How can you train a new doctor, straight out of med school, how to carry out a high-pressure surgery without the risk that comes with letting them loose on someone's aunty Nancy? How can you train an engineer, fresh on the job, how to operate heavy machinery for building megastructures or how to carry out processes on an oil rig without directly placing them in the situation and hoping they don't cock it up. A lot of these hazardous, high-pressure situations can't be accurately simulated and the only way employees can accurately learn is through trial and error, putting themselves and others at risk. New Zealand has over 6000 work related injuries every year - generally due to poor or insufficient training. I had the opportunity to have a chat to Henry Lane, managing director of Corvecto, the company providing the solution - virtual reality training.
Natalie: Tell us about Corvecto and what you guys are about
Henry: Corvecto are an international provider of commercial Virtual & Augmented Reality solutions specialized around training, health, safety, design and operations.
Our training platform facilitates organisations of all sizes to simulate scenarios for their employees that are complex, dangerous, costly or even impossible to replicate in a physical environment, where trainees are free to experiment and learn whilst experiencing the consequence of mistakes without suffering physical affliction. The platform generates an auditable track record of each individual user's performance and competence to millimeters of metric precision.
Our design platform allows any organisation to replicate or design physical spatial environments to their liking not just for the purpose of testing conceptual designs. More importantly, the platform allows for immersive user testing, so organisations can leverage the skills of our partners at Assurity, who use the platform with their Insights Team and their own CROWD platform to generate incredibly comprehensive user reports for what, how and why users respond to prospective environments - from retail and traffic management, to informational and customer-facing services.
Natalie: Where did the inspiration for Corvecto come from?
Henry: Our team has spent many years designing and developing digital engagement media for the world's top tier entertainment companies - Disney, DreamWorks, Sony and so on. We've leveraged skills such as video game development, user psychology and theory of gamification, whilst combining it with our more 'serious' orientated experiences like developing applications for stroke rehabilitation and health and safety training.
This combination was a perfect fit for Virtual & Augmented Realities - allowing us to bring to life truly immersive objective-led experiences which have a major impact on improving a users ability to comprehend, retain and utilize training material in an extremely safe environment. This has lead to markedly better training for organisations with a significant reduction in their operational costs.
Natalie: How have you managed to grow Corvecto’s presence in the market?
Henry: Corvecto's growth has been the result of having a highly skilled team, combined with amazing partners and innovative clients. Computer Concepts Limited and SPARK have been extremely supportive in helping us to get visibility with their client base, providing opportunities to get us in front of leaders in multiple industry sectors.
As a result we've been working with the country's leading commercial innovators such as Fulton Hogan, Meridian Energy and WYMA Solutions through to Government organisations like New Zealand Customs Service and the Ministry of Business Innovation & Employment - together with each we've found unique and valuable new ways for implementing these exponential technologies to achieve challenging objectives.
The regional community in Christchurch including groups such as ChristchurchNZ, the EPIC Innovation Campus, Memia and Ministry of awesome to name only a few have also worked wonders at ensuring that we're connected with like-minded individuals seeking to disrupt out-dated business models and practices to ensure that New Zealand continues to punch above their weight as a world leader in this space, and our video game developer neighbors like CerebralFix and Stickmen Studios have been powerful allies when we need additional support in delivering projects of significant scale.
Natalie: How long do you think it will take for virtual and augmented reality training to become mainstream globally and what challenges do you think it will face along the way?
Henry: The industry for virtual reality training is already growing at a rapid pace given that the technology is now considered by most to be consumer ready. There's still significant room for improvement, but with it's current capabilities at its current cost it's no longer limited to extremely specialist situations and those who can afford it. We're now rolling out into sectors of pharmaceuticals, construction, electrical, forestry, medical, industrial, manufacturing etc - there really isn't anywhere that this technology isn't heading, and with a $400 billion dollar global industry around training alone, the number of opportunities are just mind blowing.
Augmented Reality currently has a slightly more difficult path ahead of it given some of the limitations around the state of the technology - still a little bit behind being ready in a truly 'value-adding' form rather than a clever gimmick, however while we wait for advancements to the head-worn devices like Microsoft Hololens, we are seeing excellent steps by the likes of Apple and Google who are making impressive 2D augmented reality applications extremely accessible to the general public through their flagship phone offerings.
Natalie: What are the biggest challenges in the industry you’ve had to overcome?
Henry: Initial adoption of the technology. The trick with these emerging technologies is that it's incredibly difficult to visualize what they are or what they're capable of until you've actually tried it in person - otherwise it's not unlike attempting to describe a television to someone who's only ever experienced radio. That problem is compounded by those who've tried the low end mobile virtual reality units after hearing all the hype, but coming away disappointed from a lackluster experience whilst considering themselves to have now 'tried out Virtual Reality' already, so they miss out on the exceptional experiences that are available on some of the more evolved headsets.
Natalie: What’s next for Corvecto? How will you continue to grow and expand?
We'll continue to focus on the growth of our platforms for scale whilst supported by our organically growing development pipelines.
Natalie: If you had to give one piece of advice to an up and coming entrepreneur with a dream to see change, what would it be?
Henry: Find others who share your vision and can help you achieve it - collaboration has proven to be one of our country's most powerful tools, so make sure you're using it to the fullest extent possible.
Natalie: Corvecto has created a solution that minimizes the risk of injury for New Zealanders in hazardous or high-intensity jobs (that sound is the sound of ACC staff members cheering), and provides more efficient, cost-effective training methods for employers to train their employees with (that sound is the sound of corporate legal counsel's cheering). I know I will personally sleep a lot better at night knowing I have a lower chance of falling prey to a scalpel happy resident-in-training my next trip to the hospital, or that I have a lower chance of being hit by a first time forklift driver the next time I walk past a construction site, all thanks to the good work of the team at Corvecto. These innovative Kiwis have implemented amazing technology that will revolutionalize workplaces for employers and employees for generations to come.