Auckland Council opens AR/VR centre

The Garage comprises two buildings at Auckland Council’s GridAKL/Uptown innovation hub

Auckland Tourism Events and Economic Development (ATEED), an arm of the Auckland Council, has announced the opening of a new augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR) development facility, the AR/VR Garage, saying it establishes Auckland as an international AR/VR hub.

Auckland Mayor Len Brown said the the facility was the result of high-level connections forged through the first two years of Auckland’s tripartite economic alliance with Los Angeles and Guangzhou in China.Datacom has become the facility’s first corporate partner.

ATEED CEO, Brett O’Riley, said the Garage would give companies to have a global advantage from day one. “That is hugely important in this fast-paced technology sector. They can scale up much faster, connect with the big international industry players, and showcase their work to major international tech investors.”

The Garage comprises two buildings at Auckland Council’s GridAKL/Uptown innovation hub with 10 tenant companies now, and another 10 expected by the end of October. The premises have ben leased from Auckland Transport until December 2017, when the operation will move to a permanent site.

ATEED said the facility was unlike any other AR/VR facility in the world. “[It’s] a collaboration between industry, major corporates including multinationals, tertiary and research institutions, and local and central government agencies – all connected to key international players.”

It said the Garage would fuel Auckland’s growing AR/VR community that includes game developers, screen and film producers, animators, educators and digital storytellers, and help grow New Zealand’s global digital industry footprint, jobs and investment.

ATEED said the Garage included project research and development space where virtual teams from around the world could collaborate on complex innovations, as well as co-location space for Auckland’s AR/VR community.

“The facility has a rapidly increasing commercial project pipeline of more than 15 projects, some with international partners to solve globally significant challenges. A dedicated area on-site enables New Zealand AR/VR innovation to be showcased globally, and provides a high-tech focal point for investors and key international AR/VR players when visiting Auckland.”

The Garage will also be the Oceania base of the US-based VR Society, joining chapters in Beijing and Canada. The society last year secured about $US170 million of VR projects for its global members.

Jonas Hudson, VR Society board member and advisor to the AR/VR Garage, said the Oceania Chapter would be a partnership of like-minded peers with member studios including Walt Disney Studios, Pixar, Marvel, Warner Bros., Universal Studios, Sony Entertainment, Paramount, DreamWorks Animation and Virtual Reality Company.

The VR/AR Association, a New York-based organisation with satellite sites in London, Amsterdam and Singapore, is also setting up a New Zealand chapter in the AR/VR Garage, and the International Game Developers Association will also have a presence.

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