The New Zealand VR/AR Association (NZVRARA) has released a study on the New Zealand VR/AR ecosystem, Virtual Gets Real: The Explosion of Cross Reality in New Zealand, saying the term cross reality (XR) is increasingly being used to refer to the virtual-to-reality continuum of immersive technologies including augmented and mixed reality.
NZVRARA chairman, Michael Greg said the study sought to “provide an early benchmark of the size and scale of the cross reality sector, encompassing those who create and provide product and service solutions across all types of virtual, mixed and augmented reality and to better understand those who can make use of it.”
The report estimates the number of full-time employees in the sector will double from 1100 today within two years by which time cross reality will be contributing $324m to the economy. The report says industry participants have identified filling these roles as an important issue facing the VR community.
It recommends undertaking annual independent sector surveys to collect headcount, revenue and other key metrics “so that actual and forecast growth can be measured and appropriate actions taken to build a sustainable local industry.”
The report, authored by Michael Gregg, “celebrates the wider VR sector and highlights some of its domestic organisations, individuals and early achievements to date … reports on data and developments across the globe and locally, celebrates the broad activity across the main centres, Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch and in local R&D and adoption by the architecture industry as an example of broader business benefit.”
It is the first to two reports. The second, Going Next Level and due out in November, will include an independent assessment of the value of the domestic cross reality sector and its benefit to New Zealand’s economy – both as a sector in its own right, and through productivity gains from the adoption of these new immersive technologies within enterprises.
It will cover the use of VR/AR in games and entertainment, tourism, training and education, the role of VR in enterprises. Offshore channels to market will be considered as well as the potential for New Zealand to act as a global testbed.
The report concludes with a list of risks and opportunities and strategic recommendations to address each of these.
The preparation of both reports is being supported by the Ministry for Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE). The first report was also sponsored by Callaghan Innovation, Jasmax and ATEED, WREDA, and ChristchurchNZ (formally CDC) with support from Blackeye VR and NZTech.
Cross reality – not new
While the term cross reality might have taken on a new meaning, it is not a new concept. Back in 2009, Readwrite reported on Joseph Paradiso, associate professor and director of the Responsive Environments Group at MIT Media Laboratory who “showed some demos of what his lab is up to, focusing mostly on what is termed ‘Cross Reality’. This is when sensor/actuator networks meet online virtual worlds.”
Cross reality, the report said “is about connecting “location-specific 3D animated constructs” in virtual worlds to in-building sensor installations.