Press Release – ProjectR
Wellington’s virtual and mixed reality centre PROJECTR will further cement the capital’s reputation as a world-leading hub of digital innovation when it opens in April.
PROJECTR has been set up on Level 2 of the six-storey NEC House owned by The Wellington Company. Its newest tenant since a major refurbishment programme was undertaken on the high-profile Taranaki Street building, PROJECTR has also benefited from significant support by The Wellington Company.
“I am proud to support PROJECTR’s establishment in one of our prime inner-city buildings, giving Wellington a fantastic opportunity to lead the world in developing new uses for virtual, augmented and mixed reality,” says The Wellington Company’s director, Ian Cassels.
The state-of-the-art centre will be progressively fitted out to offer a unique space for the nation’s top digital innovators, businesses and researchers to collaborate on developing and testing world-first applications for virtual, augmented and mixed reality. Plans include a shared workspace equipped with the latest technologies for 30 residents to use, a mixed reality room with a green screen, a gaming space and a conference venue for hosting events.
Virtual reality is a 3D computer-generated simulation of real life, which the user is immersed in digitally, whereas augmented reality superimposes digital information on the real world. Mixed reality merges reality with digital seamlessly, allowing users to interact with the digital world. The technologies are predicted to be worth NZ$205 billion (US$150b) globally in the next four years and have a wide range of applications, including in entertainment, business, medicine, education, architecture and government. “We are one of the great story-telling capitals of the world. And PROJECTR is the perfect opportunity for start-ups and established companies to collaborate to create stories using these new technologies, developing software, hardware and content,” PROJECTR centre director Jessica Manins says.
Residents at PROJECTR can seek mentoring from its pool of international experts in virtual, augmented and mixed reality, and will also be introduced to potential investors eager to fund Wellington’s thriving digital industry. “I’ve had venture capitalists and private investors approach me who are keen to invest in virtual reality in Wellington. The city has a strong internationally recognised tech reputation,” Manins says.
She says NEC House is the perfect location for PROJECTR because the central city site showcases the technologies in the capital’s creative heart and also offers easy access for people visiting the centre, including those from overseas.
The city is already home to some world-leading technology companies, including Weta Workshop, which has some staff working at its Miramar headquarters on creative possibilities for Magic Leap, an American-based mixed reality company valued at US$4.5 billion (NZ$6.1b) a year ago. In February, Wellington-founded holographic technology company 8i raised an additional NZ$37.5 million (US$27m) to fund its work, creating holograms of people for virtual and augmented reality on smartphones, after earlierattracting NZ$20 million from investors.
Wellington City Council are also proud supporting partners in the establishment of ProjectR in the city. In supporting ProjectR, the Council is helping boost and combine the skills of our AR/VR talent in one location, enabling collaboration to increase technology and product development which can be exported to the world.
As work continues towards the venue’s official opening, PROJECTR will host some industry events including New Zealand’s first mixed reality hackathon on March 17-19, sponsored by InternetNZ, which will see 50 mixed reality innovators collaborate in teams for a weekend to create applications for Microsoft HoloLens, the world’s first computerised headset that allowed users to see, hear and interact with holograms within the real world.