Say hello to Projectr, Wellington's newest VR centre

A new VR and mixed-reality centre has launched in Wellington. That, by itself, is not news. But what is news: the fact that Projectr is being launched with the help of Victoria University of Wellington and other high-profile supporters for far more than just making immersive games.

Projectr is also supported by the Wellington City Council, Amazon, Ricoh, EY and more, and was officially opened last week by Economic Development Minister Simon Bridges. Victoria University staff and students will work with Projectr on the development of innovative research projects in virtual, augmented and mixed realities.

Victoria University Vice-Provost (Research) Professor Kate McGrath says the university-business nexus is one that is more important than ever with the dev elopement of new technologies and industries that have the potential to transform other industries. “Through this partnership, our staff and students have the opportunity to work alongside people with different skill bases and perspectives, apply their knowledge and expertise, and gain access to an extensive array of the latest commercial technology advances,” she says. “This partnership also helps in enhancing New Zealand’s capacity and capability to support social and economic growth and change, particularly important in this heightened period of technological advancement and disruption as virtual, augmented and mixed realities become pervasive technologies.”

The Taranaki Street-based centre is managed by former BizDojo regional director Jessica Manins and includes a shared workspace and access to mentors. One of the mentors is Raqi Syed, a lecturer in Victoria’s School of Design and former technical director at Weta Digital.

Swibo, a start-up created by a group of Victoria alumni, is a founding tenant at Projectr. It’ll be continuing to develop Tilt, a lightweight balance training board that allows users to play games by standing on and tilting the board, strengthening their muscles and improving their overall balance as a result.

McGrath says Projectr’s initiatives will be wide-ranging. “Our relationship with Projectr is a means to communicate and grow our capabilities and leadership in virtual, augmented and mixed realities—from content creators in design, architecture, film and media studies, to those developing technologies in engineering and computer science. This new partnership could also deliver significant opportunities for us across our research and teaching programmes.”

The first collaborative project at Projectr is already underway, and focuses on an immersive experience in the health sector.

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