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Innovator's achievements celebrated

Lynette Hartley

Article from the University of Canterbury's Chronicle - 24/12/02

Human Interface Technology Laboratory New Zealand (HIT Lab NZ) Director Dr Mark Billinghurst is one of eight New Zealanders being celebrated as an innovation and business leader.

Mark Billinghurst
Dr Mark Billinghurst is a leading authority on augmented reality

His achievements are being celebrated at the new Carter Holt Harvey New Zealand Innovation Pavilion in the America's Cup Village where more than 80 screens provide a multimedia experience featuring Leadership Stories and Innovation Vignettes.

HIT Lab NZ is a partnership between the University of Canterbury, the University of Washington and the Canterbury Development Corporation. Dr Billinghurst is based at Canterbury.

Industry New Zealand Chief Executive Neil Mackay said Dr Billinghurst was an ideal candidate because of his phenomenal achievements and contributions to the field of virtual reality.

"He's been working overseas for eight years merging real and virtual worlds so people in different places can share the same reality and work together. It's great having achievers like Dr Billinghurst supporting innovation in the pavilion.

"To have a world-class New Zealander like Dr Billinghurst return home this year to head up a virtual reality laboratory and undertake leading-edge research is fantastic," he said.

Mr Mackay said the pavilion was set up to showcase and highlight the many achievements New Zealanders have made as successful entrepreneurs and innovators locally and globally.

Dr Billinghurst is a leading authority in the field of augmented reality. While doing his PhD at the University of Washington he developed the Magic Book, a real book with pages that come to life in the form of three-dimensional animated virtual reality scenes.

A Black Magic Book, developed by the HIT Lab, is on display at the Telecom Shed in the America's Cup Village. This book provides a three-dimensional account of the history of the cup.

Dr Billinghurst said it was an honour to be chosen to join New Zealanders like Sir Gil Simpson and Bill Gallagher, although he thought they were more deserving of the innovative leader label than he was.

Dr Billinghurst said New Zealand was a very innovative and creative country.

"It never ceases to amaze me just how many world-leading innovations come out of a country as small as New Zealand. We often don't realise that our innovations stack up just as well if not better, than other countries on the world stage."

Sir Gil Simpson is founder and Chief Executive Officer of Jade Corporation Ltd and the creator of LINC, a mainframe software development tool that has been New Zealand's most successful software export to date. Bill Gallagher is the Group CEO and Chairman of Gallagher group which has taken fencing wire around the world and is a global leader in animal management systems.

In addition to the eight innovation and business leaders, 60 companies are showcased in the pavilion.

Dr Billinghurst said he believed New Zealanders were innovative people and being geographically isolated was not a barrier to establishing business partnerships. He urged New Zealanders to think of ideas and explore their potential.

The pavilion opened on November 27 and will remain open until the America's Cup races finish in March 2003.

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