Training fire wardens and farmers may not seem like the norm for a Waikato based IT company, but with the acquisition of virtual reality expert Pepper Creative, Company-X has opened up a world of unlimited possibilities.
Company-X is an innovative software specialist based in Hamilton. Its acquisition of Pepper Creative, also based in Hamilton, adds new, and highly specialised, capabilities and grows the team to more than 50.
"If you can dream it, you can build it in virtual reality," director David Hallett says.
Pepper Creative founder Lance Bauerfeind and his team have earned a reputation for their work using virtual and augmented reality for advanced scenario-based industry training, real-time maintenance solutions and content for sales and marketing.
Hallett said this was the next step for Company-X after cementing themselves as one of the dominant IT companies in the Waikato, and New Zealand.
"Virtual reality, and augmented reality is in a really sweet spot at the moment and people are realising the value of what they can do with it now," Hallett said.
"We had started building our own capabilities, but when we became aware that there were others available like Lance's it was a well considered opportunity."
Virtual Reality headsets have jumped to the forefront of technology since 2010, with the most well known ones such as the Oculus Rift and Vive used for gaming consoles like the Playstation 4.
Company-X's team design, develop and test bespoke software solutions for its clients. Clients range from large, multinational businesses headquartered overseas, to small and medium sized enterprises in New Zealand.
Hamilton City Council has also began using a virtual reality headset to illustrate what future suburbs like Peacocke could look like and allow the public more of an image to provide feedback on.
Hallett said Company-X could now use virtual reality to help train other industrial roles, such as fire wardens. Farmers could learn how to operate specialist farm machinery.
"We will be able to build virtual scenarios for basically anything, if you can dream it you can build it in virtual reality."
"We can train fire wardens on how to tackle and exit a building that is on fire, rather than lighting a building on fire you can just make it all virtual."
"It's still all risky in the virtual world, but it removes that added danger."
Bauerfeind is joining Hallett and fellow Company-X director Jeremy Hughes on the Company-X management team and is excited about the opportunities that this will bring for his talented staff.
"Pepper Creative and Company-X share some fundamentals that really confirm to me that this decision is the right one," said Bauerfeind.
"We both listen to our client's blue-sky ideas and help form them into a tangible project."
"And, just like Company-X, we have been at the forefront of using advanced technologies to bring those ideas to life. Also, we both foster innovative software experts keen to advance their careers, who have so much knowledge and commitment to share."
A number of Pepper Creative's recent projects that piqued Company-X's interest have been in the training and education space.
Hallett said the recent display of technology at Waikato TechWeek19 showed the success of the region.
"The other TechWeeks around the country were quite metropolitan focused, where for us our TechWeeks were rural based. The level of engagement for us was really good from the community and a positive sign for the future."