The following story is of a brand new business venture that as we speak is only a few days old. It may or may not be a success. We are excited to see.
What it illustrates though is how a collaborative and supportive environment like the BizDojo is the cauldron of skills and people where amazing initiatives like this one can and do explode into life - in this case literally overnight.
You can even put it into a formula (as you do): Co-location + collaboration + (coffee) = catalysed concept.
Recently, on Thursday 26th November, we had Te Papa Innovation Hub’s Acting GM Craig Caminos chat to our BizDojoers. Among many rad things, Te Papa wants to make its epic storehouse of resources more available to people - both at the museum itself and online - and inspire outsiders to develop ways to increase the use of its knowledge base. There are over 1.5 million people who go through Te Papa's doors every year... imagine the size of that educational community.
This put Dojo resident Chris Mather's mind to work. His company Point Zero produces digital experiences for mobile, web, and increasingly and especially, virtual reality. Point Zero's products cover apps, games, interactive stories and e-commerce. A recent addition to the five person company's skillset is creating immersive virtual reality experiences through the Oculus Rift or Samsung gear.
Working closely with Point Zero and increasingly collaborating with their team whilst engaging in some friendly table tennis competition over the past few weeks is recent Aussie import Neville Rodda. Neville focuses on building digital brands and businesses through storytelling and marketing – making sure that relevant search engine optimisation and content are front of mind. He has now become part of the Point Zero team as well as running his own company Sea Digital.
“What Te Papa said they'd like is a way to create an image where other people can see virtual reality without goggles, can see what another person is seeing.” Chris explains.
“Obviously, it’s very difficult for others to see the display someone's seeing through an Oculus though. That night Neville and I had a chat and wondered whether we could create a 3D hologram of what we see in the Oculus.”
They had the idea to use the reflective capabilities of perspex, set to a 45° angle against a light source to make an image appear to float in space. The next morning Chris popped up with Neville to his former haunt Victoria University and had four precise pieces of perspex created on its laser cutter. At 9.30am, placing the (effectively) upside-down pyramid with a small bit of its top cut off, on a flat screen they proved the concept and created a virtual hologram. (Note: usually a hologram is created through the interference pattern from two different light sources).
Fast forward to Friday night and the BizDojo Christmas ‘do.
While the party progressed, Chris and Neville set up their flat screen (horizontally) in the kitchen with the inverted pyramid. Neville collared fellow BizDojo resident Kevin House, the Christchurch/Wellington manager of iSite media, specialists in billboard, bus and airport advertising.
“I'm aware of what virtual reality can do,” says Kevin. “I could immediately see that this holographic image would lend itself to creative and captive spaces such as airports, train stations, shopping malls and museums.” He essentially provided an immediate validation of the idea, while being unaware of anything else similar in the market. “I was more than happy to pass on my thoughts, direct Point Zero to creative people within agencies, and connect them with others who may have use for what they've got here,” he says.
Point Zero has already taken their idea to showcase at Te Papa, and there's discussions underway of how it could be employed at the museum. Neville envisages large installations being applicable for car manufacturers, architects, advertising and media companies, cinemas and a host of others. “Holograms are another way to tell any message or story, showcase any product,” says Neville. “We would like it to be a useful technology rather than an entertainment technology. We would like that anyone can use it.”
As to protecting the IP – well, the 45° angle trick has been used for a long time. Magicians in the 1800s were able to 'show' an elephant onstage using refraction and reflection. In an instant they made the same elephant 'disappear'.
“What we do really well though is 3D modelling,” says Chris (see Point Zero's virtual reality 360° immersive journey through a bloodstream here). “The real work, the secret sauce behind what we do, and why the hologram looks 3D rather than 2D, is our modelling. Not many other people can do that.”
If I said we were excited to see where this collision leads it would be a massive understatement. Ever get that spine tingling feeling that you just witnessed the beginning of something game-changing? We have. We get it all the time.
Guest Blogger - Peter Kerr, part of the resident community at BizDojo Wellington
Response to the now launched project has been great, read some of the press coverage by clicking on the images in the slideshow below.