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Consortium attracts techno-experts

27 January 2005

Consortium attracts techno-experts from around the world

More than 200 scientists and educationalists in human-computer interface research have registered for next month’s Human Interface Technology Laboratory New Zealand’s (HIT Lab NZ) international Virtual Worlds Consortium in Christchurch, New Zealand.

The consortium, on February 10 and 11, will be opened by New Zealand's Minister for Economic Development the Hon Jim Anderton who will give one of the keynote addresses.

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

Topics for discussion include how academics can help industry invent the future, mixed reality gaming, artists and technologies in collaboration, and the next generation Internet and enhanced applications.

Latest technologies and applications being developed at the HIT Lab will be showcased during the consortium. The Lab’s post graduates students, who come from around the world to study at the internationally-acclaimed facility, will be on hand to demonstrate and explain.

Keynote speakers include MIT’s Associate Professor of Media Arts and Sciences Hiroshi Ishii, 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.

A rising star in the world of collaborative computing, Dr Carl Gutwin, will also be giving one of the keynote addresses.

Dr Gutwin's research covers a variety of topics in human-computer interaction and computer-supported cooperative work. In particular, he is interested in ways that groupware systems can better support the fluid and natural interaction that is evident in face-to-face collaboration. A visionary grounded in hard science, his doctoral research is now a standard reference for others in this burgeoning field. Dr Gutwin is currently Associate Professor of Computer Science at the University of Saskatchewan, and holds a Canada Research Chair in Next-Generation Groupware.

Professor Tom Furness, Founding Director of the HIT Lab at the University of Washington and the international director of HIT Lab NZ Ltd, and HIT Lab NZ Director Dr Mark Billinghurst will also give keynote addresses.

Day one on 10 February is open to non-consortium members and includes the 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 cocktail party in the stunning new Christchurch Art Gallery.

Day two on 11 February is for consortium members only, and includes workshops and student presentations plus a dinner in the evening.

HIT Lab NZ is a leading-edge human-computer interface research centre hosted at the University of Canterbury in Christchurch, New Zealand. The Lab is a partner of the world-leading HIT Lab US based at the University of Washington in Seattle, and shares its goals of developing revolutionary interfaces that transform the way people interact with computers.

For more information on the Consortium visit the HIT Lab NZ website at


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