Retail, Innovation and Manufacturing reporter for the NZ Herald

NZ opens international virtual reality hub

Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce opens the Augmented Reality/Virtual Reality Garage in Auckland on Friday.
Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce opens the Augmented Reality/Virtual Reality Garage in Auckland on Friday.

One of New Zealand's rapidly developing industries, augmented and virtual reality, has found a home in Auckland's city fringe.

In a spacey warehouse on Eden Terrace, the augmented reality/virtual reality "AR/VR Garage" has been set up, with rooms full of headgear, consoles, screens and space to play.

The building will be a hub for technology companies and individuals looking to create projects using the equipment, and is part of Auckland Councils GridAKL innovation precinct. The council has invested an initial $20 million across ten years for the precinct.

Home to the likes of game developers, screen and film producers, animators, educators and digital storytellers, it will also help to grow New Zealand's footprint and entice jobs and investment.

Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development chief executive Brett O'Riley said the Garage would provide research and development space for teams around the world to collaborate, and a dedicated area to showcase New Zealand AR/VR innovation.

"The Garage enables companies to have a global advantage from day one, and that is hugely important in this fast-paced technology sector," O'Riley said.

"They can scale up much faster, connect with the big international industry players, and showcase their work to major international tech investors," he said.

"While the Garage is a great boost for Auckland's world-leading screen, digital and creative content industries, VR is becoming a crucial enabling platform for a whole range of sectors, including skills training and education. The future is definitely now."

The AR/VR Garage is part of a global group, the VR Society, and will be the Oceania base for the organisation. The Society last year secured more than US$170 million for its global members.

The facility already has a rapidly increasing commercial pipeline with more than 15 projects, some of which already have international partners and working to solve global challenges.

The innovation hub already has ten tenant companies, and will have another ten by the end of October.

Partners of the facility have enabled its tenants to have subsidies access to technology and tools, connect with potential working partners and source local and international contracts.

The AR/VR Garage was officially opened by Minister for Science and Innovation Steven Joyce, and Auckland Mayor Len Brown.

- NZ Herald

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