Kiwi brings home Star Wars tech

Star Wars technology from a US military-industrial complex is set to create jobs in Auckland, New Zealand.

Returning New Zealander Dennis Row is basing the Asia-Pacific headquarters of US-based measurement software company Cyra Technologies in Auckland.

Row, who will head the operation, plans to create 100 jobs in the region over the next five years in sales and research.

The company, which was formed in 1993, uses laser scanning technology to measure in 3D for the construction industry and can be as accurate as 5 millimetres within 50 metres. The Cyra scanner is like a 3D camera for engineers that "brings the site to the desktop".

"By building a 3D picture on the site into the computer, designers can design more accurately and eliminate the risk of construction problems and cost overruns," Row says. Cyra has sold its laser system to companies like Chevron, Hitachi and the US Navy.

Row has begun recruiting five to 10 staff to send to Silicon Valley to train in company knowledge and learn more about the product and systems. After up to a year's tour of duty, they will return to Auckland to help develop new uses for the technology. Cyra is looking for people with skills in Computer-Aided Design (CAD), C++, Microsoft Foundation Class (MFC) and graphical user interface (GUI) design.

Row expects sales of the laser systems in the region to reach about 80 this year, 100 next year and 200 a few years from now, when around 100 staff will be employed.

Row says cost was not a driving force in setting up the Asia-Pacific operations in Auckland.

Both Australia and New Zealand have advanced survey technologies and applications, with NS also having a stable government providing support for the knowledge economy.

As for the brain drain, Row says New Zealand faces a revolving door as people leave to gain skills and then return.

"I am a New Zealander who went away and gained wonderful experience. New Zealand is a great place, but to get the benefit from our technology, I have to take some people out. But the long-term aim is to leverage it back here."

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