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HIT Lab NZ Flagship For Collaboration

31 May 2002

Embargoed until 1.30pm, Friday 31 May 2002

HIT Lab NZ Flagship For Collaboration

The Human Interface Technology Laboratory (HIT Lab) to be established at the University of Canterbury is a flagship for collaboration between universities, local and central government and the private sector, Industry New Zealand Chief Executive Neil Mackay said today.

Commenting on the Minister for Economic Development Jim Anderton’s announcement of $331,250 of government funding for HIT Lab NZ, facilitated by Industry New Zealand, Mr Mackay said the establishment of HIT Lab NZ was a ground-breaking exercise involving a unique partnership.

“On the local government side there’s the Canterbury Development Corporation which had the initial vision to get HIT Lab to Christchurch,” he said.

“On the academic side there’s the University of Canterbury where the HIT Lab will be located and where its academic staff and students will work and learn; there’s also the University of Washington, the home of the first HIT Lab, which has strongly backed the move down-under.

“And from central government, Industry New Zealand has worked alongside all the partners to help make sure HIT Lab NZ happened.”

Mr Mackay said it was also great to see a world-class New Zealander - HIT Lab director Mark Billinghurst - being attracted back to this country to do leading edge research.

HIT Lab NZ is an annex of the first HIT Lab established at the University of Washington in Seattle by Dr Tom Furness. The laboratory is a world-leader in virtual reality technology.

Human Interface Technology is the development of new interfaces to make the computer more natural, intuitive and easy to use, enhancing people’s interaction with computers. Interface refers to devices such as the monitor and the keyboard.

Mr Mackay said the certainty government backing had given HIT Lab NZ had allowed it to start recruiting New Zealand businesses for a HIT Lab consortium that will give members access to computer developments, to international networks and to latest technology.

“What’s really exciting is the reach of HIT Lab,” Mr Mackay said. “It has the potential to be incredibly influential in the development of students, researchers and a wide range of businesses and not just those in Information and Communications Technology sector.

“Growth will be exponential as the benefits of HIT Lab fan out through the economy and society.

“This is what happened with the original HIT Lab in Seattle and the state of Washington.

“It helped create new companies, new jobs, income, patents, highly trained graduates, international links and new technologies, for example the virtual retinal display (VRD) which scans images directly into the retina of the eye, doing away with the need for a monitor or a display screen.”

He said these positive spin-offs could be repeated in Christchurch and New Zealand.

Editor’s note

Industry New Zealand is the government’s economic development agency.

The funding for HIT Lab NZ came from:

- The Sector Initiatives Fund (SIF) - $281,250 (incl gst) to help with establishment

- The Major Investment Service - $50,000 (incl gst) for a feasibility study

The SIF provides support for industry projects that cannot be funded through other government assistance programmes, for example because of deadlines or criteria.

Under the SIF, priority is given to projects that:

1. Tie in with Industry New Zealand’s sector strategies

2. Are supported by key stakeholders

3. Have the potential for wide cross-industry applications or benefits.

Links

Industry New Zealand www.industrynz.govt.nz

Canterbury Development Corporation www.cdc.org.nz

University of Canterbury www.canterbury.ac.nz

HIT Lab Seattle www.hitl.washington.edu

Ends/¡K


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