Work towards making the North East a national centre for the emerging Virtual Reality industry has received a major boost with the installation of high-powered state-of-the-art computing equipment in the facility at the centre of this drive.
Three Fujitsu Celsius M730 Power workstations with several high-end NVIDIA graphics cards have been installed at the VRTGO Labs in Gateshead’s Baltimore House, thanks to the Fujitsu Select Expert Partnership that RMT Accountants & Business Advisors has with the Japanese technology giant.
The workstations are available for the growing number of VR businesses using the Gateshead facility to use to demonstrate their development projects to potential customers, funders and industry bodies.
The first request to use the workstations came within 30 minutes of them going live, with virtual/augmented reality developer Vector76 looking to use them immediately for a client demonstration, and it is hoped that the new equipment will now encourage more firms operating in the VR sector to locate their operations in the region.
Members of RMT’s specialist technology and accounting teams are spending a day every month at the Gateshead facility in order to provide start-up VR firms located there with pro bono advice on the financial structures they need to put in place as their operations grow.
Both Fujitsu and RMT have already signed up as sponsors for the VRTGO 2015 conference, which takes place at the BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art on 12 November.
The event, which aims to build on the success of last year’s first VRTGO conference, will explore the future of VR for both entertainment and serious applications, and has already attracted a growing list of high-profile VR industry pioneers.
Martin Lea, technology consultant at RMT Accountants & Business Advisors, says: “The North East’s knowledge economy has boomed over the last decade, and we’re rightly regarded as a centre of technological excellence across a wide range of disciplines.
“The virtual reality industry looks set to be the next technology sector to take off as equipment such as the Oculus Rift and Sony’s Project Morpheus headsets moving into the mainstream, and there’s every opportunity for the North East to build a similarly strong position in this sector as it has in the gaming industry through the likes of Eutechnyx, Ubisoft Reflections and Double 11.
“While the uses of virtual reality in the gaming sector are becoming fairly well known, the range of commercial applications that it could be applied to, and the cost-saving and business benefits of doing so, are really only just beginning to be explored.
“For example, car dealerships don’t have the space or capital required to showcase every available model that they offer across all their ranges, but using fully immersive environments located on site, they could build cars to customers’ exact specifications and give them the chance to experience what driving their desired model would actually be like.”
Carri Cunliffe, organiser of the VRTGO 2015 conference, adds: ” VR is a fast-growing sector and has great roots in the North East in the main due to our games industry heritage and strong technology courses at our universities.
” VRTGO Labs is the first facility of its type in the UK and is connecting VR knowledge and buyers, and helping strengthen the regions VR companies.
“The support from RMT and Fujitsu shows is helping the VR community and shows their belief in this cutting edge sector.”
RMT director Stephen Slater, who heads up the firm’s technology team, adds: “We’ve long worked with start-up and early stage technology firms around the region, many of which have gone on to establish themselves as national and international leaders in their fields, and the relationships we’ve built have been very beneficial for everyone involved.
“Making our expertise readily available to these nascent VR companies means they can get on with the business of growing their operations without having to worry that they’re not fulfilling their financial obligations, and with developments in the VR now gaining real momentum, we fully expect to see many of them move on to bigger and better things very quickly.”
For further information on the VRTGO 2015 conference, visit http://vrtgo.co.uk/