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HIT Lab eyeMagic Launch

Hon Jim Anderton
Minister of Economic Development

HIT Lab eyeMagic Launch

2.00PM Wednesday, 26 November 2003

SPEECH NOTES.

- HITLab Director Mark Billinghurst
- Author Gavin Bishop
- Invited guests

I first saw the possibilities of HITLab’s virtual reality and human interface technology before the Innovate conference in March last year.
- I was able to return and officially open Hit Lab in February this year.

Since then the Lab has grown considerably.
- It has doubled in size.
- More than ten faculty members at Canterbury University are associated with the Lab.
- The number of projects in the Lab have tripled this year.
- The Lab’s industry consortium has grown from 7 to 15 members.
- An office has opened at the Christchurch Polytechnic Institute of Technology.
- Its technology has been deployed at two science museums, Te Manawa in Palmerston North and Science Works in Melbourne.

The technology has begun to go out to the world from here, too.
In July, its technology was on display in San Diego at SIGGRAPH the world’s largest graphics conference.
- In November it was at the Association of Science and Technology Centres conference in Minneapolis, Minnesota - an event attended by representatives of over 400 science museums from around the globe.

This is a fantastic record over a few short months.
- It is taking New Zealand innovation to the world.

The Government has been pleased to support HitLab.
Information Technology and Communications is a crucial sector for our economy.
- Alongside biotech and the creative industries, it is a sector that offers the potential of very rapid growth.
- It also helps other sectors to grow rapidly.

We need far more high value industries in New Zealand.
- We need to sell far more high value products to the world.

You might have heard that I’ve participated in some public debate with members of our wood industry this week.
- That is an industry with two camps.
- One of those camps wants to keep exporting cheap, low value logs to the world.
- The far-sighted part of the industry wants to process the logs into high-value products, worth up to thirty times as much as a raw log.
- The jobs and the value of the processing would stay in New Zealand.

We can compare the IT and communications industry to see why it’s so important to our economy.
- A raw log is worth about $70 a square metre.
- Process it into kitset housing or furniture, and it’s worth $3000 a square metre.
- The cellphone handset manufacturer Nokia used to be a forestry company exporting logs.
- Now it manufactures cellphones – [SHOW PHONE]
- It’s latest products are worth not $70, not $3000, but $700,000 a square metre.

That is why I get excited about the development of high value new industries.

We’re here today to launch Giant Jimmy Jones eyeMagic.
- It is leading-edge technology.
- It is the first time a children’s picture book has ever been transformed into virtual content using the Lab’s technology.

The best thing about it is that it is the result of partnerships to develop New Zealand creativity.
- The technology is creative.
- The content of the book is creative.
- This innovation results from art and science coming together.
- Creative New Zealand and the Ministry of Research, Science and Technology worked together to bring us to this point.
- They set up the ‘Smash Palace Collaborations Fund’, which funded this project.

It shows the potential from students working together across various disciplines - psychology, fine arts, engineering and computer science.
- And most importantly, it transforms those ideas from acamdeic theory into productive output.

A huge new range of educational opportunities will be opened up if we can transform children’s reading.
- This is innovation with real potential for our authors and artists.
- It highlights the importance and possibilities technology provides in New Zealand.

New Zealanders have always been leaders in making innovative technological advances.
- This project is another pioneering example.

I am pleased to encourage this development here in Canterbury.
- I want to thank all those involved for making this opportunity possible.
- We can all be proud of your success to date.

If I can paraphrase another children’s author…
Oh the places you go, and the things you will see.
Now we can read, with virtual reality.
We can read short words.
And Mississippi.
We can read with our eyes shut.
That’s very hard to do.
Now we’ve made one.
Let’s go on and make two.

I wish you all the best for the success of this project.

Ends

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