Turning vision into reality

06 Jul 2018 - 16:25:09 in Achievement
Faculty of Engineering’s Associate Professor Taehyun Rhee has been recognised at the KiwiNet Research Commercialisation Awards 2018 for his innovative and collaborative work in the worlds of virtual and augmented reality.

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Associate Professor Rhee was awarded the Research Entrepreneur Award at the awards event last night, recognising his ability to focus on innovation that meets business or industry needs, and to form strong academic and business collaborations.

“I’m grateful for the recognition and excited by the credibility it offers to the work I’ve been doing. I hope it will help me to initiate new relationships and projects,” he says.

Associate Professor Rhee joined Victoria University of Wellington in 2012 after 17 years working in research and development for Samsung. He is based in the School of Engineering and Computer Science and is Deputy Director and research Director of the Computational Media Innovation Centre (CMIC).

He played a major role in forming the CMIC, which aims to attract world-leading academics to New Zealand to foster cutting-edge research and university-led innovation and entrepreneurship.

“Our goal is to utilise university research to strengthen New Zealand’s capability in interactive media such as virtual reality/augmented reality—as well as films and computer games.”

He says the CMIC will develop extensive links with international gaming and anime organisations—and incubate potential start-ups from early concept research through to market-ready products.

Dr Rhee has first-hand experience of the struggles that these future start-ups may face, having formed his own, DreamFlux, six months ago with the help of Viclink. DreamFlux provides mixed reality technology that enables real-time lighting and shading to seamlessly blend virtual objects into film so that users can interact with that object including picking it up and moving it. The technology has already been used in a virtual tour project with Wellington International Airport, Singapore Airlines and Wrestler to create an experience that is first-of-its-kind anywhere in the world.

He also pioneered Victoria University’s Computer Graphics Programme—which offers students the opportunity to gain unprecedented insights into the inner technologies of the creative industries—after talking with Weta Digital about their skillset requirements. “We now have more than 10 interns at Weta, and many of the University’s past students are currently working for the world-leading visual effects company,” says Associate Professor Rhee. “It’s great to think that they’ve been contributing to some of the biggest blockbuster movies we’ve seen in the past few years.”

Dr Rod Badcock, Deputy Director of Victoria University’s Robinson Research Institute, was also a KiwiNet finalist for his high-speed train travel project, which aims to develop new technology that will transform train networks across Asia and Europe. This project is being carried out in conjunction with Beijing Jiaotong University and several research and business partners in China.