Virtual reality alive in south

    Invercargill man Paul Cousins wants to see Invercargill become a digital mecca, with his idea earning him a position as a finalist in the TSB Good Stuff People's Choice Awards.

    CHEESE-ROLLS and oysters may be some of the things the south is well-known for, but an Invercargill man believes the region could become a globally renowned digital mecca.

    Paul Cousins was announced as the South Island’s only finalist in the TSB Good Stuff People’s Choice Awards this week.

    While the six finalists’ ideas ranged from protecting native trees to preventing water wastage, his idea aimed to help struggling tourism operators through virtual reality.

    It would help New Zealand stand out on the digital market and gain global attention as the world’s borders opened again.

    “Until then, you can virtually explore it through this portal.”

    There was a lack of competition with virtual reality platform applications, he said.

    “If we put this product into a store that is empty, while there is a huge surge in demand, we can go straight to the top of the algorithm.”

    A potential for rapid acceleration most excited him.

    The virtual experience would not detract from the real experience, nor replace it, but would aim to excite potential customers to buy a ticket to the real thing.

    “When you stand on the edge of that platform to bungy jump off, you will shake.”

    A move to Invercargill in recent years prompted him to see the potential in the south.

    His business, Funder Games, was in the process of creating a name for itself, but Mr Cousins said developing projects was challenging.

    “It was a little bit touch-and-go to see if I can make it through to a point where I can start generating money from these projects.”

    However, he believed the Invercargill game-developer start-up had a lot of potential.

    His pitch for the competition went back quite a way, and was multi-faceted.

    “This is the problem with Covid-19; people can’t necessarily come to New Zealand.”

    The second key point was the world was moving from 2-D into one which was more interactive.

    Website visits and watching others enjoy tourism opportunities did not necessarily translate to sales, he said.

    “So what we’re proposing is allowing people to experience a simulation of that experience, first-hand – they are more likely to purchase a ticket.

    “This is the next generation of a booking system.”

    It was straight-forward to build the platform and businesses would have an opportunity to have an affordable mini-game made.

    “It’s not something they can build themselves. We’re effectively cutting the cost of a game-developing project like this right down to something that can be anywhere from free, to as complex as the customer might want.”

    He said it was a completely unique way of marketing.

    However, he said community support was needed for success.

    “We all have friends and family in places like Queenstown that have been heavily impacted.”

    Beyond that, he said it offered an ability to make the south a mecca for digital workers.

    “I realised that Invercargill is a hotspot to attract digital workers from around the globe to work here.”

    Voting for the competition closes on July 12, and the winner will be announced in August.