We hosted an International Workshop on XR (Extended Reality) Technologies in conjunction with the Computational Media Innovation Centre (CMIC) on 17–21 February. It was organised by our Master of Software Development Senior Lecturer Craig Anslow and was attended by 55 students (both local and international) and 5 industry professionals.
XR includes augmented reality, mixed reality, and virtual reality — the entire spectrum from the “complete real” to the “complete virtual” and everything in-between. The workshop included lectures from experts in XR from Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington, CMIC, Weta Workshop, Mozilla, several international universities, and many more. Also included as part of the week was a hands-on project that gave the 60 participants the chance to work with XR technology and HMDs (Head-Mounted Displays) like the Magic Leap 1 (AR) and Occulus Quest (VR).
Participants formed small groups and completed a practical project over about 20 hours of programming. The team who won the best prototype award for their project with Magic Leap included some of our students Abby Miller and Manasi Pagare, as well as Madhawa Perera, a researcher and PHd candidate from the Australia National University. The team built their prototype in just 2 and a half days.
“It gave me the opportunity to explore a whole world of technology and meet wonderful student partners and industry leaders right here in Wellington. I learned so much from my peers, team, and our speakers and was just thrilled to be a part of it!” Abby Miller said.
A highlight of the workshop was the keynote address by Prof. Mark Billinghurst (a world pioneer in AR research and commercialisation) and the industry panel on the Friday morning. 70 people from local organisations were also invited to attend an open-house event at the close of the workshop on Friday evening to see the students’ completed projects first-hand as well as some demos from CMIC.
The workshop was a great success, with some students interested in doing further study and industry professionals keen to invigorate the AR/VR meetup events. The workshop runs again in 2021, more details to follow later in the year. Craig Anslow believes that “2020 could be the year where we move to deployment of immersive tech in the workplace. XR technologies have proven to be a shift for organizations in terms of increasing productivity, cost-savings, and learning and development”.