CiTi launches SA’s 1st virtual reality community

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The Cape Innovation and Technology Initiative (CiTi) has launched the first virtual reality (VR) community in South Africa at the Bandwidth Barn in Cape Town, looking to provide support to the local industry.

CiTi said the launch event earlier this week was attended by a cross section of media, graphic designers and architects, gamers and game developers, coders and venture capitalists, film, technology and innovation enthusiasts.

The community will meet one each month. The opening event saw demonstrations of VR technology, including Google Cardboard and Oculus Rift.

“Tech and innovation are no longer about isolated development or working in silos. Rather it is a catalyst bringing together industries, disciplines and mediums in our quest to innovate and create. The virtual reality community is a first in the country and we are proud to continue CiTi’s tradition of technology, innovation and inclusive growth through this new initiative,” Ian Merrington, chief executive officer (CEO) of CiTi, said in his welcome speech

Glenn Gillis, managing director of Sea Monster – a Cape Town animation studio with a VR project in full development and that has formed a partnership with AngelHub Ventures for seed funding, said it was important to balance up the possibilities offered by the new technology.

“Of course, for this to be more than just a fad, these new platforms will have to find ways to balance great creative ideas, with the realities of what the technology can deliver, with key business or social outcomes, with creating entertaining and satisfying user experiences,” he said.

Grant de Sousa and Tyrone Rubin from Virtual Reality SA spoke on the current climate of VR globally, as well as the future of VR and the potential for applications in business and entertainment.

“The overwhelming success of the launch is testament to the power and attraction of Virtual Reality,” said de Sousa. “Our message then and now is clear: to drive South Africa’s first virtual reality community forward with like-minded ambitious people through one word: passion. As a team will continue to drive the community forward as South Africans in the virtual reality space, not only as followers but, ultimately, as leaders in the virtual reality community, globally.”

Chris Vermeulen, head of enterprise development at the Bandwidth Barn, said Telkom and CiTi support the virtual reality community by providing space, broadband, skills and mentorship. Disrupt Africa reported last week the pair had signed a three-year multimillion rand innovation and technology partnership, aimed at opening up more opportunities in the digital economy for entrepreneurs and startups.

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Passionate about the vibrant tech startups scene in Africa, Tom can usually be found sniffing out the continent's most exciting new companies and entrepreneurs, funding rounds and any other developments within the growing ecosystem.

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