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  • 17 May 2020 12:42 PM | Mike Hearn (Administrator)

    New Zealand startup realityvirtual.co has just been awarded the sudden funding from American video game and software giant Epic Games, creators of the popular video game, Fortnite. The grant is just one of several large sums stemming from a whopping NZD$164 million (USD$100 million) fund for people doing amazing things with Unreal Engine.

    Aotearoa Discovered: Imagine being able to visit the most beautiful and culturally significant locations in New Zealand and elsewhere, with your friends and family, without leaving the comfort of your living room. This is what NZ-based startup realityvirtual.co makes possible. Users will be immersed in photorealistic NZ scenes, interactively exploring them together in Virtual Reality (VR)

    Project deepMIrror: In the age of covid-19, realityvirtual.co is repackaging and rapidly deploying their prior deep learning and volumetric video technologies into what can only be described as an extremely immersive one-on-one video conferencing experience. “One can describe the experience as being not too different from that of speaking between a sheet of glass, you're in their 3D space and they are in yours, you share not just eye contact but light itself. We feel this is a gift that me action immediately!” states Mr de Boer.

    realityvirtual.co is one of only two NZ companies to win such an award. “Honestly. This brought me to tears, it’s been a hard many years for us struggling to make our case heard”, realityvirtual.co’s CEO Simon De Boer says referring to years of unique pioneering research and development in 4D, 5D.

    realityvirtual.co is known for their immersive VR experiences from around the world, such as the Large Hadron Collider, and Queen Nefertari & King Tutankhamun's Tombs in Egypt. They won the prestigious Lumiere Award for best VR Educational Experience in 2020.

    Founder and CEO Simon Che de Boer, the eccentric man at the helm,  is an internationally renowned photogrammetrist and VR content creator. He has received international media recognition for the quality of his photo-realistic virtual experiences from Forbes, TechCrunch and other reputed publications featuring De Boer’s work. Many notable players of the Visual Effects (VFX) industry refer to such VR projects to demonstrate the potential of this new immersive medium.

    This round of funding will be used to improve the process of making virtual copies, and allow them to upscale, or better render existing models of places and digitize many more beautiful NZ locations, including picturesque beaches, places of natural beauty and historic buildings  including Saint Matthews Cathedral, Sir James Wallace Homestead, with a lot more is planned they are accepting suggestions from the public.

    The experiences will be distributed for free on the ubiquitous games platform STEAM. Although current travel restrictions make it difficult for people to physically come to New Zealand, they will soon be able to be in the country virtually, and see it in a way that has never been experienced before.

    The technology from realityvirtual.co relies heavily on deep learning, machine learning and the latest in mixed reality technologies. They are working closely with Epic Games, Amazon Web Services, NVIDIA and other parties, to make these technologies available to all.

    Source: http://www.realityvirtual.co/

  • 09 May 2020 9:28 AM | Mike Hearn (Administrator)

    An American billionaire who lives in New Zealand has won consent to buy land north of Auckland for new golf course ventures.

    Ric Kayne has already spent an estimated $100 million creating one of the world's top 10 golf courses and now his plans to spend another $50m-plus developing two new public courses have taken a step forward.

    In January, American publication Golf Digest released its list of the world's best non-US courses, naming Tara Iti course at Te Arai, between Pakiri and Mangawhai, as the world's second-best after Northern Ireland's Royal County Down course.

    Last week the Overseas Investment Office released approval for Te Arai Links to buy 169ha of sensitive land at Te Arai South, a beachfront site flanked by pine forests just over an hour north of Auckland. Of the 169ha, 144ha is leasehold and 25ha is freehold.

    Kayne struck a deal with Ngati Manuhiri, who bought the Mangawhai south forest as part of their commercial redress under their Treaty of Waitangi settlement.

    According to the OIO decision, Kayne plans to develop two links-style 18-hole championship level golf courses on the land, together with a clubhouse and visitor accommodation, as well as maintenance and water storage facilities. The land is now a pine plantation used for production forestry.

    Kayne has previously said he wanted to build two public courses of similar quality to Tara Iti, which he completed in the adjacent Mangawhai north forest. That was also a project in which he partnered with a local iwi – in that case Te Uri o Hau – and with Queenstown investor and golf developer John Darby.

    Former United States President Barack Obama played at Tata Iti in 2018.

    Kayne told the Herald last March: "The goal is to create a significant recreational, economic and environmental asset for Auckland and New Zealand.

    "Much of the 700ha Mangawhai south forest will be retained by Ngati Manuhiri. About 200ha is expected to be turned into a regional park in partnership with Auckland Council. That will include all the beachfront land and sensitive ecological areas.

    Kayne's Tara Iti includes major environmental enhancements such as a large-scale native revegetation programme and pest and weed control. That approach is expected to be replicated in this new project.

    The OIO decision says the benefits of allowing the business to buy the land include the creation of 40 permanent full-time roles, an increase in exports by at least $6m annually by the end of 2022, advancement of the New Zealand-Aotearoa Government Tourism Strategy and the introduction to New Zealand of at least $25m for development purposes.

    A written history of the land shows that in 1993, Carter Holt Harvey was granted a long-term Crown forest licence for the north and south forests. Commercial pine plantations were originally established there by the Forest Service.

    Public access to the forests was banned then and the privately-held pine plantations extended over the foredunes down to the high tide line of both the north and south beaches.

    In 2000 the Crown included the freehold of the north and south forests as commercial redress land for settlement of Treaty claims. Two years later, a Crown deed of settlement was reached with Te Uri o Hau to transfer the freehold ownership of the north forest to a settlement trust.

    John Darby said that a year later, the trust selected his Queenstown-headquartered landscape architects Darby Partners as its joint venture partner.

    Later, the Te Arai south forest was included in Ngati Manuhiri Treaty settlement claim.

    In 2004, a new comprehensive and sustainable land use plan for both forests was progressed with the two iwi settlement trusts. Darby said a key component of that plan was the creation and management of a coastal park extending the length of both forests either side of Te Arai Point.

    That provided for reinstatement of the foreshore's natural character and improved public beach access and recreational opportunities, balanced with the protection and enhancement of endangered shorebird habitat.

    In 2005 Darby Partners bought the lease over 754ha of the south forest on behalf of a pending joint venture with Ngati Manuhiri.

    In 2009 Ngati Manuhiri signed an agreement for settlement of historic claims, and in 2012 its settlement trust bought the freehold land at Mangawhai South. A year later, it struck a joint venture with Darby Partners to plan and fund an integrated, sustainable land use plan for better economic, cultural and environmental outcomes.

    By 2016, Auckland Council's Unitary Plan recognised the South Te Arai Special Precinct, based on the original integrated land use plan. That provides for:

    • A new 180ha coastal park for public use
    • An extensive trail network over private land, linking reserves
    • Removal of pine plantations and revegetation with native species
    • Protection and enhancement of endangered shorebird habitat
    • 60 rural residential lots
    • Visitor facilities, amenities and accommodation including public campground
    • Two championship public links-style golf courses

    The habitat of New Zealand's endangered fairy tern - or Tara Iti - is in the area. But Leigh Bull of consultancy Boffa Miskell, which consulted on plans for the land, said the terns were not where the two new golf courses were planned.

    "The golf courses in the Te Arai south forest are located away from foraging and breeding habitats of the New Zealand fairy tern/Tara Iti. East coast New Zealand fairy tern breeding sites are all located north at Waipū, Mangawhai, Te Arai Stream and south at Pakiri of the Te Arai south forest," Bull said.

    "There is no New Zealand fairy tern breeding at Poutawa Stream. The Te Arai stream at Te Arai North is also a well-known post-breeding flock site for east coast birds, which is not the case for the Poutawa Stream at Te Arai South. New Zealand fairy tern have been reported foraging at Spectacle and, to a lesser extent, Slipper lakes during their post-breeding period from December to March but not at Tomarata Lake," Bull said.


    By: Anne Gibson

    Property editor, NZ Herald


  • 06 May 2020 11:52 AM | Mike Hearn (Administrator)

    Latest datacenter region affirms Microsoft’s commitment to enable digital transformation while accelerating innovation and growth in Aotearoa  

    Auckland, New Zealand, 6 May 2020 – Microsoft Corp. today announced plans to establish its first datacenter region in New Zealand, a major  milestone toward delivering enterprise-grade cloud services in the country. The New Zealand datacenter region will be the latest addition to Microsoft’s global datacenter footprint, which totals more than any other cloud provider at 60 regions announced, with Microsoft Azure available in over 140 countries around the world. 

    With the development of this new datacenter region, Microsoft aims to fuel new growth that will accelerate digital transformation opportunities across New ZealandThe company will also continue its investments in new solutions that support both New Zealand and Microsoft’s sustainability goals. In addition, Microsoft will add support for educational skilling programs to increase future employability opportunities for the people of New Zealand. 

    “This significant investment in New Zealand’s digital infrastructure is a testament to the remarkable spirit of New Zealand’s innovation and reflects how we’re pushing the boundaries of what is possible as a nation,” said Vanessa Sorenson, general manager, Microsoft New Zealand. “The Fletcher School’s Digital Evolution Index characterises New Zealand as a ‘standout nation’ demonstrating to the world what the future might look like. I’m confident this investment will help accelerate our digital evolution.”   

    Accelerating digital transformation in New Zealand 

    Through the development of the new region, public and privatesector entities, large enterprises, and small and medium-size businesses will be able to use scalable, highly available and resilient public cloud services, while also helping companies meet their data residency, security and compliance needs.  

    Customers will have access to Microsoft’s cloud services, including: 

    • Microsoft Azure  an ever-expanding set of cloud services that offers computing, networking, databases, analytics, AI and Internet of Things (IoT) services.  
    • Microsoft 365  the world’s productivity cloud, featuring best-of-breed productivity apps delivered as part of an open platform for business processes with email, collaboration, conferencing, enterprise social networking and business intelligence.  
    • Dynamics 365 and Power Platform  intelligent business applications that enable organisations to grow, evolve and transform to meet the needs of customers and capture new opportunities. 
    • Built-ITrust and Security  an industry-leading portfolio of government and industry certifications and world-class security as well as a commitment from Microsoft to store customer data at rest in New Zealand. 

    While this new region will deliver local access to cloud services, New Zealand customers and partners are already benefitting from Microsoft’s global scale cloud services.  

    Read more.

    Source: Microsoft

  • 28 Apr 2020 9:59 AM | Mike Hearn (Administrator)

    StretchSense expands, acquiring renowned animation studio MocapNow to
    bring Hollywood the cutting edge hand motion capture it’s been desperately
    seeking.

    StretchSense, creators of the world’s first stretch sensor motion capture glove, today announced the acquisition of Seattle animation heavyweight MocapNow via a share swap completing several months of negotiation.

    The acquisition cements the position of the company’s product, the MoCap Pro Glove, as the leading finger tracking device in North America.

    The MoCap Pro Glove is used by studios developing AAA rated games, feature films and new VR experiences to capture detailed finger movements that convey the fine nuance of an actor’s performance. While various hand mocap solutions have been around for a long time, there has not been a satisfactory solution to the problem of capturing a high level of accuracy without threatening
    the pipeline or increasing the complexity of a busy shoot.

    A massive spike in demand for in-home entertainment is placing pressure on studios to create more and better content. There is a strong need for expert motion capture support packaged with a production-ready hand capture product for studios navigating the post-COVID-19 world.

    Just as the combination of peanut butter and chocolate puts all other food pairings to shame, MocapNow’s hands-on game and film animation expertise combined with the MoCap Pro Glove’s unique, cutting-edge technology is a match made in heaven.

    Relationship Manager Ander Bergstrom: “ The challenge of digital performance is capturing and expressing the gesture and essence of the performer. StretchSense has met that challenge head on with their incredibly expressive and sensitive glove solution and I am proud to be part of this amazing team.”

    With a portfolio that includes some of the best and most important video games of the past decade along with several BAFTAs and Academy Awards, MocapNow’s Ander Bergstrom and CJ Markham have worked with every hand motion capture solution available and both are excited to be teaming up with the best in the market.

    Solutions Architect CJ Markham says “T he hand capture solution I’ve dreamt about for years is finally here. I’m excited to join the team that is bringing it to the world.”

    With the acquisition complete, the focus for StretchSense now is to expand its reach in North America, and provide its customers with close technical support with the help from its newly established team in Seattle.

    StretchSense CEO Ben O’Brien says “ I am super excited to have the MocapNow team on board. CJ and Ander are legends in the industry and as well as being great to work with, their decades of experience will directly improve our products and help our customers to create some truly amazing content.”

    https://stretchsense.com/



  • 22 Apr 2020 2:42 PM | Mike Hearn (Administrator)

    IRVINE, Calif., April 21, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Protempo US Limited, a global consumer electronics distributor announced the completed acquisition of Outdoor Tech, a leading ruggedized consumer electronic and helmet audio company.  The Outdoor Tech brand will contribute tremendous value to the Protempo product offering, providing for high-margin quality goods to be offered through Protempo's expansive sales and distribution network. 

    Gerry Fay, Protempo US CEO stated, "I have long been an admirer of the Outdoor Tech Brand.  Their product design skills and unique brand has allowed them to quickly grow within both the consumer electronic and outdoor industry.  There is much opportunity ahead for Outdoor Tech, particularly when combined with Protempo's vast resources and omnichannel network.  We believe we are well positioned to develop Outdoor Tech into one of the largest action electronic brands globally."

    Both US corporate headquarters, which are conveniently located in Southern California, have already begun to diligently work on a seamless transition and integration of their operations.  In addition to added sales support, Protempo offers customer service, fulfillment and reverse logistic services.  Protempo's additional resources will help the Outdoor Tech brand continue to flourish and gain market share.

    "We are so excited to be part of the Protempo Family.  Outdoor Tech has been searching for the right partner to expand their sales and distribution reach for their high-quality helmet audio kits, earbuds, headphones, speakers, power banks, chargers and cables.  We have been successful at designing and producing unique consumer electronics in support of a healthy and active lifestyle.  The acquisition by Protempo will allow the Outdoor Tech brand to flourish within Protempo's global network," said Charlie Gugliuzza, Outdoor Tech's CEO.

    About Protempo
    Founded in 2004, Protempo works with leading brands worldwide combining a single, integrated technology platform with global logistics infrastructure and an international sales force based in every major market to offer complete management of reverse logistics, refurbishment, remarketing and distribution of consumer electronics.  Protempo delivers tailored customer solutions through a broad product and services portfolio.  For more information, visit www.protempo.com .

    About Outdoor Tech
    Founded in 2010, Outdoor Tech® is an outdoor designer brand creating accessories for an action-filled lifestyle.  Packing the world's most complete line of Bluetooth audio and power built for reveling in the open air and on the road, Outdoor Tech proves there is a way to stay connected but not tethered.  For more on Outdoor Tech and the rest of its line including rugged portable power and the iconic Yowie® Logo apparel collection, visit www.outdoortech.com .

    SOURCE Protempo US Limited

    Related Links

    https://www.protempo.com/

  • 14 Apr 2020 5:12 PM | Mike Hearn (Administrator)

    International flights are still landing and taking off at Auckland Airport, but it’s cargo space in the belly of planes rather than passengers that’s providing a vital economic connection.

    In the next four weeks, around 80 new flights of freight-only passenger planes are scheduled to land at Auckland Airport, in addition to the 20 dedicated freighters each week.

    Flying with limited crew, the belly hold is filled with priority cargo, including medical supplies, pharmaceuticals and parcels coming into New Zealand and respiratory equipment and fresh produce heading back out overseas.

    Air has been the transport of choice for high value, time-critical goods. From gifts, airmail and online shopping orders, through to precious metals and gems, artworks and horses. Before the widespread outbreak of COVID-19, 86% of New Zealand’s airfreight came through Auckland Airport.

    This isn’t just about businesses in Auckland benefiting, said Scott Tasker, General Manager Aeronautical Commercial.

    “The impact of well-functioning cargo connections flows right out into heartland New Zealand. Keeping our air cargo connections going to key international markets is really important and crucial for New Zealand’s economic fortunes – now and as the country works to rebuild from the impact of COVID-19.”

    With the drastic fall in passenger numbers, airlines scrambled to reduce flights in order to preserve cashflow, he said.

    “Those reductions have resulted in a massive cut in cargo capacity, from 25,000 tonnes in April 2019 to 15,500 tonnes in April 2020. If you take an average widebody plane, there’d generally have been around 320 passengers and 15 tonnes of cargo on board.

    “There’s been a demand and supply issue, which has seen airfreight rates increase, but airlines have been quick at adapting to the changing market. What we’re seeing is our key airline partners converting to cargo-only flights using passenger aircraft or flights with limited numbers of passengers,” he said.

    Currently Air New Zealand, Air China, Cathay Pacific, China Eastern Airlines, China Southern Airlines, Fiji Airways, Hainan Airlines and Korean Air are operating passenger aircraft with cargo-only loads to and from Auckland Airport.

    Mr Tasker said maintaining bilateral airfreight connections to New Zealand would be an important part of our economic recovery.

    “If we look back at figures from a couple of years ago, air freight accounted for $1 in every $5 of trade for New Zealand. At that time the average value of goods transported by sea was around $1,200 per metric tonne. In comparison, the value of air freighted exports was $87,000 per metric tonne.”

    He said New Zealand’s airfreight exports are weighted towards primary products – seafood, fruit and prepared foods – products still being produced by an industry considered essential under the Level 4 alert.

    “Air cargo connections mean high value products can be delivered into markets where they can attract premium prices and enable producers to capture demand opportunities.

    “A great example of this would be the export of fresh crayfish into the Chinese market. It’s a consumer group who values fresh, natural products and are prepared to pay a premium meaning seafood companies can potentially make better margins without lifting their quota.

    “And it’s something you’ll see repeated across a range of products. Fresh milk can be worth four times as much as the same volume of whole milk powder and twice as much as UHT. Only 1% of New Zealand’s beef and lamb exports travels by air, despite earning $10 per kilogram more than sea freighted product. Shifting a further 1% more onto airfreight would add $90 million to export earnings.

    “If you go back to the example of the average widebody plane, annually it would deliver $200m in tourism value but $260m in export cargo. As a country, we’ve talked for a long time about moving from a commodity-based economy to one that delivers high-value or value-added products and airfreight is a critical part of that shift.”

    Key cargo statistics:

    • 80% of airfreight to and from New Zealand is carried in the belly-hold of passenger aircraft, with the remaining 20% being carried by cargo-only air freighters
    • 20% of airfreight capacity provided by four air cargo-only operators
    • 86% of airfreight operates from Auckland International Airport.

    • Source: https://corporate.aucklandairport.co.nz/

  • 01 Apr 2020 11:17 AM | Mike Hearn (Administrator)

    The world's second-largest retailer has New Zealand clearance from an arm of the state to make its debut in this country with its first giant store.

    The Overseas Investment Office has just announced it has given consent for Costco Wholesale New Zealand to buy land at Massey's Westgate in Auckland where the retailer will open its first store.

    Costco, second only to Walmart globally, needed state consent here because the land it is buying is classified as sensitive. It applied to buy a freehold interest in 2.7ha of land at the corner of Maki St and Gunton Dr at Westgate near the Harvey Norman store.

    It also needed consent because it plans to establish a business in this country where the expenditure involved exceeded $100m - the land purchase and the development of the giant new store with its fuel station, food court, pharmacy, hearing aid sales centre, etc.

    READ  MORE

    Source: NZ Herald

  • 06 Mar 2020 5:00 PM | Rebecca Caroe (Administrator)

    The investment by major United States company Merck and Co in FarmIQ, is an endorsement of the technology that Pāmu has been championing since the inception of the agri-tech company, Pāmu Chief Executive Steven Carden says.

    “This latest investment from a global player in animal health and welfare confirms the vision we had when FarmIQ was started, which was to enable greater productivity by joining up the whole agriculture data ecosystem,” Mr Carden said.

    Pāmu holds a 30% shareholding in FarmIQ and is one of its original shareholders and biggest customers. The company has actively championed changes such as the Health and Safety module widely used by FarmIQ customers.

    “Merck’s investment in FarmIQ through their MSD Animal Health subsidiary company is an acknowledgement that the global ag sector is looking for innovative solutions for the challenges we face, and the fact they have realised the huge potential and uniqueness of the FarmIQ platform, and are prepared to invest in the company, is something all New Zealanders can be proud of.

    Read More

  • 03 Mar 2020 4:51 PM | Rebecca Caroe (Administrator)

    FarmIQ today announced MSD Animal Health, a division of NYSE listed Merck & Co., Inc. became a minority investor. MSD Animal Health joins FarmIQ’s existing shareholders Farmlands, Silver Fern Farms, Pamu Farms NZ, and Veterinary Enterprises Group who have also invested new capital into FarmIQ.

    FarmIQ Chief Executive Darryn Pegram said,

    “The new capital will be used to fuel FarmIQ’s domestic growth and to invest in its world-leading software. The investment is an exciting development for FarmIQ, and signals MSD Animal Health’s ongoing commitment to New Zealand agriculture and their focus on accelerating traceability in livestock to improve animal health.

    “We believe MSD Animal Health‘s investment confirms the considerable potential of the FarmIQ application and its world leading capability” said Mr Pegram. “We also believe it is a fantastic endorsement of the original FarmIQ Primary Growth Partnership “PGP” partners who foresaw the value of individual animal records for productivity and traceability as well as creating value from provenance. We hope the many supporters of FarmIQ over the years take justifiable pride in this endorsement. By connecting the power of FarmIQ’s open software platform and the range of MSD Animal Health’s products, including the Allflex Livestock Intelligence range of animal health monitoring solutions the companies are well placed to create new value for farmers the world over.”

    Read more

  • 02 Mar 2020 4:41 PM | Rebecca Caroe (Administrator)

    Boutique Kiwi dairy company Lewis Road Creamery has hit the shelves in United States in a deal worth up to US$5 million (NZ$8m) in its first year.

    The company has been pursuing a slow push into the United Since for the last 18 months, first appearing in California's premium organic grocer chain Erewhon and specialty supermarket Central Markets in Texas. Sales took off, with the Lewis Road brand selling twice twice as fast as it did in New Zealand, founder Peter Cullinane said.

    As a result the company caught the attention of Whole Foods Markets, a large US supermarket chain specialising in natural and organic food. The butter is now in 271 Whole Foods stores across 37 states.

    Cullinane says the deal is proof of concept for an idea that he founded the creamery on: That New Zealand should be exporting finished branded products rather than commodities for the lowest possible price.

    Read more