New Academic Staff to Join the HIT Lab NZ as part of the Government’s Research and Entrepreneurship Programme
The Human Interface Technology Laboratory New Zealand (HIT Lab NZ) in the College of Engineering at the University of Canterbury (UC) has just received word of its success in a bid to add significantly to its research capacity through the NZ Ministry of Education’s Entrepreneurial Universities programme, coordinated by the Tertiary Education Commission (TEC). The research effort, entitled the Applied Immersive Gaming Initiative (AIGI), uses the motivation that games provide to engage people in tasks such as learning subjects at school, training for trades, carrying out health and safety activities, exercising or curbing addictive behaviors. It blends technological approaches such as virtual and augmented reality with social and artistic aspects to generate new applications that will help stimulate NZ’s creative industries.
The award will allow three senior international academic staff members to join the Lab, and to support ongoing efforts in the UC School of Product Design (SoPD). All three have significant experience launching and running applied, entrepreneurial research efforts at their respective current institutions. The wife and husband team of Dr Heide Lukosch and Dr Stephan Lukosch, both from Delft University of Technology (TU Delft) in the Netherlands, will join forces with Prof Andrew Phelps from the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) in the US to launch this groundbreaking initiative at UC. Rounding out the team will be existing UC staff members Prof Rob Lindeman, Director of the HIT Lab NZ, and Dr Simon Hoermann and Dr Thammathip Piumsomboon, both Lecturers in SoPD.
The AIGI will combine efforts in equal parts research and entrepreneurship to positively impact the New Zealand economy by stimulating the founding of small businesses, supporting existing organisations to incorporate immersive gaming technologies, and producing graduates ready to work.
Prof Jan Evans-Freeman, PVC of the UC College of Engineering | Te Rāngai Pūkaha, notes, “I am delighted that the Government has recognised that we are at the forefront of such cutting edge research and has supported us in this way.”
“We are so delighted to be able to attract such awesome talent to join the Lab,” says Prof Rob Lindeman, Director of the HIT Lab NZ | Hangarau Tangata, Tangata Hangarau. “This team will help solidify UC as the go-to place to engage with other creative individuals interested in applying novel gaming techniques and immersive technologies to help support people in their work, play and well-being. We are very thankful to the TEC for supporting us in this journey.”
Prof Conan Fee, Head of the UC SoPD, comments, “The depth of knowledge these world-leading experts bring will provide real-world and teaching experience of enormous value to our Applied Immersive Game Design students in the School of Product Design.”
Local Christchurch organisations are also excited about the news.
Richard Sandford, General Manager, Innovation and Business Growth, ChristchurchNZ, comments, “As a major supporter of HIT Lab NZ, ChristchurchNZ was pleased they were able to attract such high-quality talent through the support of the Tertiary Education Commission. The cutting-edge innovation being done at the Lab is a prime example of Christchurch’s market-leading tech sector, both in education and commercialisation. ChristchurchNZ are dedicated to developing and attracting talent in our city – we see this as critical to our economic development and future employment opportunities. We see this as an important step in educating the next generation of entrepreneurs, and helping them make an impact on the world stage, from right here in Christchurch, New Zealand.”
James Tan, Director of Digital Confectioners, a Christchurch game studio, notes, “As a leading Christchurch-based game development company, Digital Confectioners is always searching for creative and innovative talent to help grow our international business. I believe that this initiative will help produce and promote those vital, locally developed innovators who are so integral to our business.”
Nadia Thorne, General Manager at Christchurch game studio CerebralFix says, “We are really excited about the fantastic team that UC and the HIT Lab NZ are bringing together! We appreciate how closely they’ve worked with industry to understand the challenges we’re facing and their programme not only addresses our current knowledge-gaps but also inspires an approach to innovation that we need to stay at on the cutting-edge of technology. Well done!”
|Dr Heide Lukosch is an Associate Professor of Simulation Games at TU Delft and head of TU Delft’s Gamelab. She has 10+ years of experience researching, teaching, developing, and deploying applied games. Her research is focused on the design, implementation and evaluation of applied games to enable the decision-making and action-taking of people in complex systems and situations. Her strong entrepreneurial attitude has helped build a powerful network of game researchers and developers able to tackle difficult game-related projects.|
|Dr Stephan Lukosch is an Associate Professor in the Faculty for Technology, Policy, and Management at TU Delft, The Netherlands, and has 12+ years of experience doing research in mixed reality and applied gaming. In his research projects, Stephan explores the effect of mixed reality and applied gaming in various applied scenarios. All his research projects have been in collaboration with Dutch or European companies or organisations which also supported the research projects either in-cash or in-kind in expectation of novel, academically proven solutions.|
|Prof Andrew Phelps is the founding director of one of the leading video games programmes in the US, at both the undergraduate and graduate levels, housed within the School of Interactive Games & Media at the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) in Rochester, NY. He is also the founder of the RIT Center for Media, Arts, Games, Interaction & Creativity (MAGIC), and the associated MAGIC Spell Studios, a public-private cooperative model that links together academic research with commercial production.|