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Int. gathering to focus on partnering industry

International gathering to focus on partnering industry, creativity and research

High-powered scientists in human-computer interface research will gather in Christchurch next month for the Human Interface Technology Laboratory New Zealand’s (HIT Lab NZ) international Virtual Worlds Consortium at the University of Canterbury.

The consortium, on 10 and 11 February, will be opened with a keynote address by New Zealand’s Minister for Economic Development and Industry and Regional Development, the Hon Jim Anderton.

The event is themed Industry Creativity Research: Partners in Innovation. It is expected to attract 200 guests from New Zealand and around the globe who will be exploring how to create partnerships between the essential elements of successful collaboration . . . creativity, research and industry.

“Partnerships between research institutions and industry are essential to promoting a culture of innovation and to taking technology forward,” says HIT Lab director Mark Billinghurst. “They draw together those who produce new knowledge with those who know how to use it productively.” A rising star in the world of collaborative computing, Dr Carl Gutwin, will be giving a keynote address as will MIT's Associate Professor of Media Arts and Sciences Hiroshi Ishii, an expert researcher in human-computer interaction.

Dr Gutwin is currently Associate Professor of Computer Science at the University of Saskatchewan, and holds a Canada Research Chair in Next-Generation Groupware.

His research covers a variety of topics in human-computer interaction and computer-supported cooperative work including information visualisation, the usability of distortion-oriented visualisations, groupware architectures, groupware performance, and the development of discount evaluation techniques for multi-user systems.

In particular, Dr Gutwin is interested in ways that groupware systems can better support the fluid and natural interaction that is evident in face-to-face collaboration.

Associate Professor Ishii is an expert researcher in human-computer interaction who regularly collaborates on projects that blur the boundaries between a variety of arts, design, and scientific disciplines. Professor Ishii is co-director of MIT Media Lab's Things That Think (TTT) consortium, and director the Lab's Tangible Media group. Also attending the consortium will be Professor Tom Furness, Founding Director of the HIT Lab at the University of Washington and the international director of HIT Lab NZ Ltd, as well as representatives from a number of national and international companies. Consortium attendees will engage in a number of workshops on day two with topics including entertainment computing, next-generation collaboration, and the convergence of art and technology. However, day one on 10 February is open to non-consortium members and includes keynote speeches as well as demonstrations of technologies from participating companies, partner universities and the HIT Lab. In the evening there will be a virtual ARt-themed (Augmented Reality) cocktail party in the Christchurch Art Gallery.

Between 3.30 pm and 5.30 pm on day one members of the public are invited to attend a free mini open day. It is the chance to get close-up and hands-on with cutting edge technology that is shaping our future. Visitors will be able to have their body’s movements morphed onto a digital image of their favourite Lord of the Rings character and projected onto a wall, or be the among the first people to view part of a large interactive touch screen destined for the New Zealand Pavilion at this year’s World Expo 2005 in Aichi, Japan.

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