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Wellington get ready, virtual reality complex could be on its way

07 Sep 2016

Wellington is going to be the home of a proposed national virtual and augmented reality complex.

Jessica Manins, the newly-appointed centre director, says the complex titled ‘ProjectR’ will bring together the nation’s top businesses and researchers to develop and test world-first uses for virtual and augmented reality.

With Virtual Reality, the user is immersed in a 3D computer-generated simulation of real life.

Manins says both technologies have a huge range of applications, including entertainment, business, medicine, education, architecture and government.

Discussions about ProjectR are ongoing with industry groups, tertiary institutions and businesses. A feasibility study has also begun which includes developing designs for the state-of-the-art complex.

“We want to make sure it’s fully collaborative and that we’ve talked to all the right people before firmer decisions on structure and capability are made,” says Manins.

Currently, the goal is to have the complex’s full facilities in place by early next year.

Manins has spent almost a decade with online talent startup StarNow, so is familiar with the development process, developers, project management and strategic business skills that are needed to bring ProjectR to life.

“This new national virtual and augmented reality centre will boost the capital’s reputation as an internationally acclaimed hub of digital innovation,” she says.

“It will cement the film and gaming industries in Wellington, foster global partnerships, attract overseas talent and create jobs,” explains Manins.

She adds that the need to develop such a centre is highlighted in July by the report, ‘Unleashing New Zealand’s Potential – Faster’, which contains comments by Spark’s managing director Simon Moutter on accelerating New Zealand’s technological progress.

Linc Gasking, co-founder and chief executive of virtual reality company 8i, is in full support of the centre.  

"Wellington is already a hub for visual effects talent and technology startups,” he says.

“ProjectR would be a welcomed addition to help cement the city as a global centre of innovation for the next digital frontier.”

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