Expert says NZ has a potential gold mine of virtual reality innovation - "if we play our cards right."
Brett Telfer is the Head of AR/VR Garage - a collaborative R&D facility launched in Auckland by ATEED just over a year ago. "We are talking to various people about developing world-leading innovation labs with adjacent apartments with VR/AR capability, as well as theme park functionality here in New Zealand," he says.
When launched, the VR/AR Garage was "world-leading", says Telfer, ahead of anything in New York, Melbourne and many other international cities. "The next iteration needs to be industry-led but must be supported by central government," he says. "There are countries round the world - Korea, Israel, Australia, Taiwan - who have profited from such government backing. The rise and rise of VR/AR is almost a no-lose investment for governments."
"We need early investment in globally significant infrastructure, allowing us to build R&D environments here attractive to global investment and effective for multinational proof of concept and prototyping. We have to move away from governments waiting for individual companies to succeed by themselves and then taking the political credit for it."
New Zealand's success so far - and the AR/VR Garage's approach - is to assess and identify "international movers and shakers" in the new industry, understanding the problems they face, solving them and encouraging economic development here through partnerships and collaborations.
"It's a substantially different approach to the way business has been done in New Zealand for the last 30 years - where Kiwis figure out what we do very well , make something and try to sell it to the world against strong competition. We are now talking to major players who already have the infrastructure and reach to take things to the world," he says.
"If we do that and if we get the right government support, then we can leverage the revolution of the VR/AR industry to become digital masters of our own fate."
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Our technology geek Lee is an accomplished, non-fiction, best-selling author and huge supporter of new tech on Kickstarter. From robotics to AI, 3D printing to VR and AR – for business and for fun, Lee loves seeing the future today.