Virtual tour has minister thinking of future


A government delegation toured a state of the art dairy shed and mainline gas valve, all in the Hamilton office of virtual reality software specialist Company-X.

Minister for Local Government and Associate Minister Trade and Export Growth Nanaia Mahuta donned a virtual reality headset on October 7 to try the latest technology developed by the Company-X team.

“This is very cool,” Mahuta said as she approached the milking cluster in the simulated dairy shed.

The minister’s experience was broadcast to a high definition screen watched by list MPs Jamie Strange and Angie Warren-Clark with the Company-X augmented and virtual reality team.

Mahuta punctuated her tour of the virtual dairy shed that Company-X developed for AsureQuality with comments such as: “What am I touching?” and “Hang on, what is that?”

As Mahuta left the virtual dairy shed she said, “Well, that was amazing!”

Mahuta was then transported to a virtual model of the Te Kowhai Main Line Valve developed for natural gas transmission and distribution network owner First Gas.

The simulation provides fun and engaging risk-free training for high-risk activities, such as mainline venting, in the real world.

“Oh my gosh,” was Mahuta’s response as she walked around the virtual environment and climbed a virtual platform overlooking the gas pipes.

“Far out,” she said. “You know what?”

“It feels like you’re really up there,” Warren-Clark answered.

“Yes, it does. It’s unreal,” Mahuta replied.

“I have to say getting up on the platform and down again was great. Angie, you missed out here.”

Company-X designed and developed a virtual shipping container for biosecurity clearance systems specialist Independent Verification Services (IVS). IVS is approved by the Ministry for Primary Industries to complete container biosecurity inspections and provide national biosecurity training.

“Imagine training,” said Company-X director David Hallett. “You can’t just hide snakes in containers, it’s illegal. At the same time, you need to be trained on how to respond to a snake in a container.”

A wireless virtual reality headset allows the trainee inspector to walk around inside the simulated container, in the same way, that they would in the real world.

The simulation can recreate any biosecurity scenario, from minor to major, with no risk to the trainee inspector or the environment.

“We randomise all the different things that can happen, like poisonous spiders,” said Company-X augmented and virtual reality specialist Lance Bauerfeind.

“We can track head movements so we know where they are looking.”

Strange, a former teacher, said learning in a virtual environment was a more authentic learning experience than a textbook for most people.

“This gives me a whole new appreciation for Minecraft,” Mahuta said.

“When you look across the group of ASEAN countries and their demographic profile they are a younger population, digitally-led, and that’s what’s going to drive their economy, we’ve got to kind of figure out how we can impact in the knowledge space.

“More Minecraft then, I won’t ever doubt my son.”

Mahuta suggested Company-X develop a virtual model of parliament which members could attend from anywhere.

“We can debate from home,” she said.


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