What’s your favourite…
Technology you can’t live without?
VR and AR. We not only build content for these platforms we are making tools which integrate into workflows of literally every industry in the world and become can't live without parts of daily work and home life.
Underrated or old technology?
Sky TV / Pay-per-view – Information and video is to easily accessible to be paying for a subscription to something you have to watch on a tv at home.
New Zealand tech company or individual in that space that’s doing seriously cool things?
Staples VR and the team working on our Vremedies medical VR and AR application technology.
Global tech company or individual in that space that’s doing seriously cool things?
Aliesha Staples from Staples VR.
Tech project or product you’ve had a hand in?
NZ Fire Service – www.escapemyhouse.co.nz
Shortland Street – VR Roadshow
Aria Awards – Live Stream in 360
Six60 – New Zealand's first live stream in 360 VR Video
Vremedies – Medical VR and AR application tools
Auckland City Mission – 360 video showcase of a night on the street
Tech project or product that isn’t yours, but you're envious of?
Too many to name!
What first drew you to this industry?
The unknown. I first experienced VR technology on a trip to the USA and I loved the concept of the unknown possibilities for the technology.
What do you enjoy the most about working in tech?
That every day we are challenged with something either we or no one has ever done before.
How would you describe New Zealand’s tech culture?
Our tech industry is well supported for rapid growth and there are great innovation hubs and collaborative spaces popping up everywhere which shows our ability to work together and not in hidden away spaces. We all know we need to work together to be seen on the world stage and that is really starting to show through with things such as the AR/VR Garage in Auckland and Project R down in Wellington.
Where does inspiration come from for you?
My staff and how much we all enjoy coming to work. As long they continue to enjoy it, we will keep creating.
How has tech impacted on your work? How will it impact on it in the future?
I started my career in the film industry working in the camera department, VR didn’t exist or at least not to the scale it does today so my entire career has changed and adapted as the technology has. We have moved from a rental company for the film industry into both that and a virtual and augmented production company with in-house developers, game designers, cinematographers and post-production teams all trained traditionally in 2D but upskilled into the 3D VR field. We learn a software or workflow and with the speed that this industry is developing we end up needing to learn a new workflow or software every three – six months! It's moving at a stupidly fast pace and just keeping up with the equipment needed is an expensive game.
What’s been the most concerning change that technology has made to human behaviour, in your experience?
The ability to communicate, especially in our area of VR where we take you from a situation where you interact with your peers and transport you in a “bubble” to a different place where you can't see, hear or talk to anyone else. While this is changing and we are now seeing the development of multiple person experiences, it is a troubling thought that instead of actually going somewhere to do something with someone we are now able to do all of this alone without leaving your house.
How would you describe your relationship with technology? Do you think you’re addicted to any form of it?
I personally am a tech geek but can't keep up, I spend my days researching both hardware and software and now when we buy new equipment I don’t have the time to play with the gear. This task is now passed onto my team, I try and stay away from everyday addictive tech like tablets but my phone is never far from my side. I use this not only for personal but 90 percent for ideas and notes from research and conversations I have throughout the day.
Do you think social media is a blessing or a curse?
It’s both but do the positives outweigh the negatives? Who knows.
I personally use social media as a way to stay in contact with family, friend, staff as I travel a lot and out business has a great online presence. I use Facebook as a way to closely watch my competitors and also see new trends and tech as soon as it is talked about so see social media as a must have for my work and a must have to communicate while I'm away.
Do you think technology needs more laws surrounding it, or a form of resource consent regulation?
Yes and if there isn’t something implemented soon it will be beyond control (if it isn’t already). I saw a statistic yesterday that said in the last two years, the internet has generated more information and data sharing then the rest of human history combined, now who controls this, where is it viewed and by who is a scary thought.
What needs to be done to tackle the diversity issue in tech?
I struggle with this question because I am this minority but also don’t agree to hire because of gender both male and female this should be based on who is a better fit for the role, we have four females including myself in a company of 14. I think we need to make sure the intake to universities is more diverse but we cant assume that then we will have a 50 percent mix of both to choose from when hiring it comes down the personality and drive of the individual.
What worries you the most about technology?
That is will consume us. We don’t need it but we want it ... when has equation ever worked out well in the past.
What’s your scariest prediction for the future? Will the robots kill us all?
That we will become restricted by technology in the fact we give away so much information about ourselves for free to data collection sites etc there needs to remain a level of privacy, freedom of speech, freedom of choice etc we don’t need to know everything about everything!
What will New Zealand look like as a country in 2037?
My ideal New Zealand in 2037 is a country known for its high tech industry not just lord of the rings and four sheep for every person. We are known for tourism and agriculture but I would love for places like China and the USA to look at New Zealand as a proof of concept country to solve the hard problems in tech. If you need high end VR/AR/AI, you look to New Zealand.
Idealog has been covering the most interesting people, businesses and issues from the fields of innovation, design, technology and urban development for over 12 years. And we're asking for your support so we can keep telling those stories, inspire more entrepreneurs to start their own businesses and keep pushing New Zealand forward. Give over $5 a month and you will not only be supporting New Zealand innovation, but you’ll also receive a print subscription and a copy of the new book by David Downs and Dr. Michelle Dickinson, No. 8 Recharged (while stocks last).
Idealog is part of ICG. We work with clients like Woolworths New Zealand, All Good, Huffer, Liquorland, Resene, Citta Design, TVNZ, Spark and FCB on their event activations, in-store, in-office or out-of-home signage, content creation and vehicle wraps.