Things were looking bleak for StretchSense in July last year, as the Auckland startup was put into voluntary liquidation, and 140 of its 185 staff were let go.
The move was forced by the collapse of a US$92 million ($131m) investment deal with Japanese online retailer Start Today.
The Start Today deal was the result of a collaboration on a high-tech product called the Zozo suit which was packed with sensors to give the wearer exact body measurements - the better to order clothing. Or that was the idea. In the event, the Japanese retailer pulled the plug.
StretchSense founder chief executive Ben O'Brien told the Herald that letting go of the staff was one of the hardest things he's had to do in his career.
Crown agency NZVIF, Auckland University's commercialisation arm Uniservices and other investors were left out of pocket.
But there was brighter news in September 2019, when local venture capital firm GD1 bought StretchSense's intellectual property for an undisclosed sum, and took on O'Brien and around 30 of his staff for a new company called Sensor Ltd (which maintains the StretchSense brand and trades under that name).
And in April this year, the reborn StretchSense bought a two-person Seattle company called MoCapNow, maker of the MoCap Glove - a close relative to StretchSense's original project before it over-extended into the ZoZo.
MoCap is short for motion-capture, or using sensors on a real-life actor to turn their movements into animations or special effects for a movie or game.
Anyone who's seen a Lord of the Rings making-of with Andy Serkis (aka Gollum) leaping around a green screen in sensor-studded, wetsuit-like apparel knows mo-cap is old hat.
But O'Brien says while there are good solutions for body and face, hands have been a weak point, requiring extra animation after the fact.
The StretchSense boss says there are now a couple of dozen customers using the MoCap Clove and his company's Hand Engine software as "beta" clients who are providing feedback as the products are developed.
He won't name them but says they include film studios - some of them "indie" - plus "AAA" game makers.
O'Brien is now looking to hire 15 new staff - and already starting to think big again.
"We're building the future of human-machine interaction," he says, pitching a future where keyboards and keypad in favour of voice controls, implants, twirling the air with smart gloves.
StretchSense's comeback has been sufficiently successful for it to regain show-pony status. Trade Minister David Parker visited its Penrose office today for a tour, with media in tow.
Next year, StretchSense will look to do Series B and the ambition there is to raise around $20 million to support further growth.
With the company's immediate track record, it might need some more runs on the board before it can go to the market for that amount, but it appears to at least be heading in the right direction again.
O'Brien prefers not to say who he's voting for.
But in terms of the key areas for his company - venture capital and R&D policies - there's not much daylight between Labour and National.
The Government recently revamped NZVIF as NZ Growth Capital Partners, which now has the NZ Super Fund looking over its shoulder, and providing most of the backing, for its new $300m Elevate fund.
National would keep Crown venture capital funding at $300m but divide it into three $100m funds, which it says would add more focus. Like the current Elevate, it would seek matching co-investment from private VCs.
And while Labour (favouring a universal R&D tax break) and National (who favoured maintaining around $300m a year in direct grants to selected companies) were butting heads over research and development funding last cycle, this election there's no challenge to what's become the R&D tax break status quo.