Augmented and virtual reality are pushing the boundaries across many industries - such as entertainment, health, manufacturing and tourism - but is there much opportunity for making a living in AR/VR around Auckland?
“The local capability of companies working in the AR/VR creative technology industry in Auckland is world class,” declares AR/VR Garage community manager Jono Bishop.
Jono knows this how? Because AR/VR Garage is a shared space where local creative industry start-ups do research and development with major corporates, tertiary providers and local and central government agencies. These businesses are working on solutions for many industries including medicine, industrial manufacturing, tourism and entertainment/gaming.
Tucked away in a side street of Eden Terrace, AR/VR Garage is funded by Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development (ATEED), along with sponsors Microsoft and Datacom.
“A sector focus for ATEED is creative technology and two years ago they saw an opportunity to support the AR/VR community by setting up the AR/VR Garage to facilitate the industries growth and jobs in creative technology,” explains Jono.
AR/VR Garage has room for up to 15 people. Currently 14 companies and organisations are associated with the space. Some are located in the garage, while others get involved through an associate membership that gives them access to support, resources and equipment, such as VR headsets, mixed reality headsets, AR software, game engines and VR games. Two VR Game companies currently associated with AR/VR Garage are creators of Wanderer (MTheory) and Cricket Club. The only criteria is that the businesses are involved with creative technologies.
Jono wants the AR/VR industry in Auckland to be at the forefront of the huge changes that AR/VR will bring to our daily lives.
“I am passionate about building a thriving AR/VR community as well as the technology itself and I just want people to realise that the local capability of companies working in the creative technology industry in Auckland is world class. Ultimately I see this technology having a big impact on our daily lives in the next 10 years and I am in a position to help that along,” he declares.
So how do AUT students fit into this mix? Currently AR/VR Garage’s main purpose is to support companies already working within the industry by offering cheap space, access to quality equipment and the opportunities to network. This could include student start-ups, says Jono.
“Student start-ups could definitely apply and would be exposed to quite a few opportunities that they wouldn’t otherwise have access to such as our equipment and facilities. The main thing we don’t do is fund or invest in businesses, we just support them."
However, students mainly get involved with AR/VR Garage through signing up for demo sessions and meet ups showcasing local AR/VR capability.
“Come and say hi to us. Network by attending our meet ups and register for a Demo session. The biggest thing is finding out what is around you and talking to people about what they’re doing and have done.”
Jono says companies at the Garage are often looking for highly skilled talent and will think about people they’ve come in contact with at meet ups etc before going further afield.
“We have heaps of people here who are often looking for an extra pair of hands so get in touch with me if you’re looking for experience. Also if you just need help with a small class project or need to understand more I am happy to find some time to discuss it with you. I also offer consulting support free to students who might want guidance about where to go next.”
Caption: AR/VR Garage community manager Jono Bishop right.