INDEPENDENT NEWS

Virtual Reality Helps Preserve NZ’s Ecosystem

Published: Tue 19 May 2020 01:58 PM
HAMILTON, NEW ZEALAND: Cutting edge technology designed to simulate biosecurity threats has emerged from the collaboration of two Hamilton companies.
A pioneering virtual reality shipping container packed with simulated biosecurity risk scenarios is helping preserve New Zealand’s ecosystem and way of living.
Independent Verification Services (IVS) in Hamilton has launched a new virtual reality (VR) simulation built by Hamilton software specialist Company-X. The Ministry of Primary Industries has approved the technology to be used in biosecurity refresher training for Accredited Persons (APs).
The project was led by Company-X augmented and virtual reality specialist Lance Bauerfeind, with project manager Dilan Prasad and augmented and virtual reality generalist Wonkee Kim.
Using virtual reality to assess frontline staff dealing with imported goods was a New Zealand first, said IVS chief executive Peter Webb.
“It’s the first training course that is not undertaken in a classroom, using a written examination-style assessment. Instead, it offers an online course with a virtual reality assessment that lets trainees demonstrate their practical knowledge and skills.”
The technology provides trainees with a realistic environment to properly assess their abilities to detect and respond to biosecurity threats such as foreign insects and vegetation.
A wireless virtual reality headset allows the person to walk around the simulated container externally and internally, in the same way that they would in the real world.
“The virtual reality tool is the closest and more realistic assessment of skills,” Webb said. “It replicates real-life situations that may be encountered on the job.
“We randomise all the different things that can happen, like poisonous spiders,” Bauerfeind said. “We can trick head movements so we know where they are looking.”
“We chose to work with the team at Company-X due to their experience and capability. The fact that they are based here in the Waikato, was also a bonus,” Webb said.
“Lance, Dilan and Wonkee are passionate, dedicated and great at project planning, always delivering on time. It was awesome to bounce ideas with the team, get suggestions for improvement. This is one of the only, if not the first, use of VR for assessment and we are very proud to be offering this exclusively, enabling trainees to demonstrate their practical skills for the job rather than their memory.”
The project, Webb said, was the first step in what could be a transformational journey for the biosecurity industry in New Zealand. It uses virtual reality to train staff dealing with biosecurity contamination immediately post-border in the most realistic way.
“This technology has the potential to be used to educate all New Zealanders to identify and respond to biosecurity risks,” he said.
“IVS believes virtual reality could be instrumental to achieving a biosecurity team of 4.7 million, where all New Zealanders are aware of the importance of biosecurity and involved in pest and disease management, as set out in the Government’s Biosecurity 2025 strategy.
About Company-X
Company-X offers Silicon Valley level software savvy delivered with a Kiwi can-do attitude.
Founded in 2012 by software specialists David Hallett and Jeremy Hughes, Company-X immediately won contracts with New Zealand government departments and a Silicon Valley multinational.
The team has grown to more than 50 New Zealand-based software specialists, with only the best and brightest passing the Company-X interview and assessment process.
The Company-X team prides itself with experience in a wide range of technologies and languages and loves challenging problems.
Company-X is the Australasian reseller of RealWear head mounted tablets.
Company-X ranked on the Deloitte Technology Fast 500™ Asia Pacific, a list of the fastest growing technology companies in Asia Pacific, in 2017, 2018 and 2019.Company-X has won many awards:The Independent Software Vendor Award at the Reseller News Innovation Awards 2019 after building a hands free auditing application developed for AsureQuality.The Service Excellence and Global Operator awards at the Westpac Waikato Business Awards in 2018.Services Exporter of the Year category at the Air New Zealand Cargo ExportNZ Awards 2017.Homegrown Innovators Independent Software Vendor Award at the Reseller News ICT Awards 2017.The Roading Asset Management Innovation Award at the Road Infrastructure Management Forum in 2017 for the One Network Road Classification Performance Measures Reporting Tool.

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