NZ virtual reality and augmented reality sector gains foothold

The New Zealand virtual reality and augmented reality (VRAR) industry sector is forecasting revenues of more than $320 million in two years.

This is the key finding of a report commissioned by the New Zealand Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality Association (NZVRARA), which is a part of the New Zealand Tech Alliance.

The sector is also called cross reality (XR) to describe the continuum of immersive technologies that blur the line between the physical and digital world, including virtual, augmented and mixed reality.

The report says more than 1100 full time equivalent staff are currently employed in the sector in New Zealand and is conservatively estimated to double in two years.

Globally, AR is predicted to be the fastest growth segment in the world with forecast global revenues of US$83 billion, the report states.

Forecast revenues for the sector compare favourably with the New Zealand games development industry, which has 2016 revenues of around $100 million, says NZTech chief executive Graeme Muller.

“The VRAR industry is expected to face skills shortage within two years, according to a NZVRARA industry survey undertaken in July this this year,” says Mueller, in a statement.

Graeme Muller - CEO, NZTech

Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employmentpolicy director Kim Connolly-Stone says the report will help government, industry and academics to identify the challenges and opportunities associated with XR and what it means for New Zealand and our growing digital economy.

“The report is critical to helping us better understand our local XR industry. For example, the report recognises our strong position in some market segments such as holographic capture, local games development and augmented reality,” says Connolly-Stone.

“The growth of our XR sector has the potential to create new high-value jobs, export opportunities and improve productivity and competitiveness through the application of these technologies across other sectors such as health, education, and entertainment.

Kim Connolly-Stone of Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment

The growth of our XR sector has the potential to create new high-value jobs, export opportunities and improve productivity and competitiveness

“Sector industry survey participants are adamant that building scale among members to provide offshore services is important to continue taking a leadership role internationally. Companies such as Auckland’s M Theory are already demonstrating their work offshore," adds Muller.

“The sector has some globally dominant market positions in holographic capture, games development, 360 degree filming such as Animation Research Ltd for the America’s Cup, and augmented reality such as Wingnut AR.

“We have researchers operating at the peak of the industry such as Victoria University and Christchurch’s HIT Lab NZ.

“A skills shortage for employee acquisition is a major concern for sector participants,” says Muller.

The NZVRARA’s student chapter is working with tertiary students into on-campus VR clubs and linking graduates to member companies for internships and employment.

“Building national capability with VR equipment and AR platforms and building expertise in immersive technologies requires assistance beyond the voluntary and ad hoc activities of the sector.

Muller says a second report exploring games and entertainment, tourism, training and education, the role of VR in Enterprises and offshore channels to market will be released later this year.

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