New Report Forecasts Strong Virtual Reality Sector Growth
New Report Forecasts Strong Virtual Reality Sector Growth for New Zealand
The NZVRARA (The New Zealand VR/AR Association Inc.) has today released the first of two studies commissioned on the New Zealand VR/AR Ecosystem.
The report, titled ‘VIRTUAL GETS REAL: The Explosion of Cross Reality in New Zealand’ profiles a rapidly growing local industry that will contribute to New Zealand’s Digital Nation with annual revenues of NZ$324M and employ 2,200 people in 2019.
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Cross Reality (XR) is increasingly being used to refer to the virtual-to-reality continuum of immersive technologies including augmented and mixed reality.
Authored by Michael Gregg for the New Zealand VR/AR Association, VIRTUAL GETS REAL celebrates the wider VR sector and highlights some of its domestic organisations, individuals and early achievements to date. It reports on data and developments across the globe and locally, celebrates the broad activity across the main centres, Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch and in local R&D and adoption by the architecture industry as an example of broader business benefit.
The report has calculated that over 1100 fulltime employees are currently working in the sector in New Zealand, and that this is estimated to double within two years. NZVRARA members and industry participants have identified that filling these roles is an important issue facing the VR community. The report recommends undertaking annual independent sector surveys to collect headcount, revenue and other key metrics, so that actual and forecast growth can be measured and appropriate actions taken to build a sustainable local industry.
A second report, GOING NEXT LEVEL, is already underway. It will include an independent assessment of the value of the domestic cross reality sector and its benefit to New Zealand’s economy – both as a sector in its own right, and through productivity gains from the adoption of these new immersive technologies within enterprises. In addition, the second title will cover the use of VR/AR in games & entertainment, tourism, training & education, the role of VR in Enterprises. Offshore channels to market will be considered as well as the potential for New Zealand to act as a global testbed.
The preparation of both reports is supported by the Ministry for Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE). The first report was also sponsored by Callaghan Innovation, Jasmax and ATEED, WREDA, and ChristchurchNZ (formally CDC). Additional support was provided by Blackeye VR and NZTech.
VIRTUAL GETS REAL acknowledges the ‘gap of disappointment’ which has forced a downward revision of global analysts’ bullish predictions for virtual reality, and highlights the new technology releases and discounting that is fuelling a second wave of growth.
Sector participants who provide production and content creation services are adamant that building scale amongst members to provide an internationally competitive offshore offering is important. New Zealand has some service providers, such as Auckland-based Staples VR, who is already expanding into other markets including Australia and the United Kingdom.
The report recognised New Zealand’s strong positions in some market segments such as holographic capture led by New Zealand company 8i, local games development such as Weta Workshop’s partnership with Magic Leap, and augmented reality through companies such as M Theory and Wingnut AR who delivered the AR showcase at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) earlier this year.
New Zealand has researchers operating at the peak of the industry including Victoria University’s Taehyun Rhee who chairs SIGGRAPH Asia’s VR programme and Christchurch’s HIT Lab NZ which is a global market leader in academic education and research in AR and VR since its formation in 2002. In Auckland, the AR/VR Garage is a catalyst in driving international R&D collaboration and in Wellington, PROJECTR® is supporting collaborative R&D between universities and that city’s startup community.
The report raises issues such as the pending skills shortage stating that building national capability in the use of VR equipment and AR platforms and building expertise in immersive technologies requires assistance beyond the voluntary and ad hoc activities of the sector such as the NZVRARA’s Student Chapter which is channelling tertiary students into on-campus VR clubs and linking graduates to member companies for internships and employment to accelerate skills development.
The report makes a number of other recommendations including that the cross reality and games development communities will benefit from greater alignment; continued growth in immersive screen sector support will enhance New Zealand’s strong leadership in story-telling and content creation; and that there is a need for tailored business education, training and support for sector startups.
NZVRARA Executive Director, Courteney Lomas is excited about sharing the report. “VIRTUAL GETS REAL will help the NZVRARA to promote our amazing new technologies and solutions to the rest of New Zealand and to prospective clients of our member companies from around the world. It also sets out some challenges for us to work on collectively to make sure we succeed as best as we can in this exciting new industry,” says Ms Lomas.
The NZVRARA was formed in September 2016 to champion, support and grow innovation in the virtual, augmented and mixed reality sectors throughout New Zealand. Its objectives include promoting collaboration, education, R&D and economic development for the benefit of its 100+ sector members.