bfd2a75a3bac290dc1071ac836009338f3994706Spearhead Interactive is planning on exporting its cutting edge products to clients in Japan and Brazil to build upon its success in this country.

The company, which was formed with the help of a DigitalCity Fellowship, has positioned itself at the forefront of developments in real-time 3D and Virtual Reality (VR) software and is using technology from the world of gaming to develop applications for businesses, educators and governments to use.

Software developed by Spearhead ranges from interactive assembly and operational guides for products and components, through to digital replicas of buildings and environments.

DigitalCity, which is based at Teesside University and funded by the European Regional Development Fund, offers Fellows up to £4,000 to cover their living costs while they develop a business product or idea and also provides expert mentoring and support, as well as access to state-of the-art equipment.

Spearhead founders Dan Riley and Paul Li lead a team of developers based at a business incubator in the Victoria Building at Teesside University.

Dan recently visited the Tokyo Games Show to demonstrate Spearhead’s software to a public audience, in conjunction with the Virtualizer, an omni-directional treadmill built by Austrian company Cyberith and also attended meetings with the Tokyo Metropolitan Government regarding expanding the business into Japan.

The software developed by Spearhead and the novel use of the technology used to create it has attracted interest from a games console manufacturer and several large Japanese-based firms including Sony and Samsung who are all set to release their own VR hardware in 2015.

Dan has also just returned from a visit to Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro for a series of meetings to discuss potential applications of Spearhead’s work in the South American country, with a particular focus on the 2016 Olympic Games alongside architects, smart-city developers, construction companies and businesses involved in the oil and gas sectors.

Thanks to the Enterprise Europe Network (EEN) North East which is led by Teesside University, he was also put in contact with EEN representatives in Brazil to discuss potential opportunities to develop new markets in the country.

He said: ‘For virtual reality, we believe there are four key elements to creating a virtual digital experience which replicates the way we interact with the real-world; the presence within the virtual world, the ability to move around it, the ability to interact with it and the ability to feel it.

‘To achieve all of this we are working with some of the most hi tech equipment around from headsets and treadmills, to body and finger tracking systems alongside haptic feedback suits and exo-skeletons. We’re also conducting R&D into environmental stimulation such as heat lamps and fans.

‘VR is simply another way to access and experience real-time 3D software, which we’re already developing for PC, Mac and mobile devices. The main focus of the technology is to provide access to data in the context in which it would typically exist. Using 3D you are able to better convey ideas, by integrating data you are able to better understand the concepts, and by using real-time technologies, user are able to better experience these ideas.

‘We’re certainly operating at a very high level in this field and with digital, we have a global reach, so it’s fantastic that our work has already been positively received abroad.’

Spearhead, which has been named as one of the Top 100 UK Start-ups by and was shortlisted as one of the Top 10 tech companies in Europe at the 2013 Thinking Digital awards, has carried out data visualisation work for companies ranging from small SMEs through to global brands firms including a marine engine guide for MAN engines and components, a 3D conference guide for the Design It, Build It conference and most recently a 3D animation for Sedgefield’s NETPark, in collaboration with Pharos Creative, another company founded by former DigitalCity Fellows.

Michael Ryding, Director at DigitalCity, said: ‘Spearhead are carrying out truly innovative work and are operating at the forefront of their field.

‘The potential applications for VR are almost limitless and Spearhead is doing a brilliant job of exploring different ways in which the technology can be used.

‘It come as no surprise that there has been such interest from abroad in what they are doing.

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