Mixed reality startup brings research and internship opportunities

Invoke was started as a Part IV project, and continues to work towards its goal of commercialising immersive mixed reality technologies.

Geoff Zink sees a lot of potential in the augmented reality (AR) space. The Part IV project that eventually led to funding through UniServices was a concept for object tracking in AR systems, and it’s this space between physical and virtual interfaces where Invoke continues to work.

The motivation comes from wanting to address the “inefficiency and abstraction” that Geoff says we’re used to dealing with when we interact with digital information. By using AR technologies as a bridge, digital information can be brought into the physical space where it can be much more intuitive. Geoff puts this in the context of learning the guitar to explain the difference technology such as this can make.

“If you think of a game like Guitar Hero - it's addictive and players get really good at using the controller, however there is hardly any crossover between this skill and actually being able to play the guitar,” he explains. ‘Now imagine a real guitar, with a real music piece digitally displayed where it is most relevant (on the fretboard) in real time using mixed reality. Practice then becomes a "transferrable skill", even if it feels like you are playing a game.”

Geoff says it was only logical that Invoke would eventually connect with the Newmarket Innovation Precinct after being involved with Uniservices from early on. Invoke has a heavy emphasis on research and development, and a relationship like this gives the team the ability to hopefully influence research activity within the university and between faculties.

Invoke has continued to engage with the university by hiring interns to work on its Portal project, which is intended to be a handheld window into virtual reality (VR) and sidestep the need for a dedicated VR headset. Geoff believes this is a much more inclusive way for people to share the experiences associated with mixed reality technology.

“We think this concept has a lot of potential for activations at public events, expos or gallery spaces,” he says. “This is a great opportunity for the interns to build industry experience with immersive technologies and take product ownership over their time in the role, which is quite a unique offering when it comes to internships.

“We had a lot more applications than we expected and were very impressed by the talent coming out of the University.”

As well as helping Invoke work towards the Portal’s development, offering internships allows Geoff and the team to encourage an interest they already see forming in other students. Looking at the graduates coming through the Faculty of Engineering and the work students are doing in the Unleash Space, Geoff believes Invoke can bridge the gap and provide some real-world applications and experience for people with these interests.