StretchSense opened its factory doors to external visitors for the first time in the company’s eight-year history on 22 October 2020 as it celebrated major milestones in its start-up journey, set out its vision for the future, and seeks to attract top talent.
Hon David Parker, Minister for Trade and Export Growth and industry leaders toured the factory and experienced MoCap Pro Gloves first-hand.
The R&D-led business received a several million-dollar Series A investment from Global from Day One (GD1) Fund II in 2019. This enabled the company’s expansion.
GD1 Managing Partner, Chintaka Ranatunga says StretchSense has honed the strength of its intellectual property and technological advantage and received global market recognition for technology leadership.
“We invested in StretchSense because we believed in the team, the IP and the market potential. We know that with the right capital and market presence, StretchSense could become a major technology exporter long term and create thousands of high value jobs.
“We’re delighted with the progress so far and look forward to supporting Ben and team in the future.”
Speaking at the event, StretchSense CEO and Co-Founder, Ben O’Brien said that they were well positioned to capture the market.
“We know that there is a significant need in the film, gaming and animation industries for motion capture gloves that accurately capture hands and fingers. With the help of GD1, we have developed a product to meet this need and we’re delighted with the feedback we’re already getting from the international community.
“Our vision is to build the future of human-machine interaction and we want great people to join us right now to make that happen. We believe that VR/AR will eventually replace your smartphone. When that happens, we anticipate a heightened need to interact in virtual environments and hands will be essential for this.”
StretchSense is held in high regard by the AR/VR/XR industry in New Zealand. Professor Mark Billinghurst, AR/VR expert and author of the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment (MBIE) funded New Zealand AR/VR/XR Market Report says that StretchSense is well positioned to be very successful.
“We completed a survey of the whole New Zealand industry and StretchSense was outstanding amongst the 83 Kiwi companies we identified. They are the largest employer of people working in the sector, and one of the few companies working in hardware.
“Their technology is used in the two sectors that our international experts identified as having the highest growth potential, Training and Gaming. Our sector reporting has found that by 2023, the NZ AR/VR/XR industry is projected to more than double in number of employees, and more than triple in revenue. StretchSense is well positioned to be a leader in this space.”
StretchSense key milestones to date:
- Business recovery and expansion – the company has experienced rapid growth and is looking for up to 15 new hires in software development, product, process engineering and sales adding to its 30-strong team. The company is also hiring internationally in Seattle, Los Angeles, New York, London and Berlin as it grows its presence in key markets
- Significant R&D into version two of its world-renowned MoCap Pro glove, which launched in July and is used by many top animation, gaming and film studios in the US, Europe, China and Japan
- The development and launch of Hand Engine – purpose-built software that provides an interface between StretchSense MoCap Pro gloves and the preferred software of gaming, animation and movie studios. The launch has allowed a world-first in motion capture, with the use of animator-generated pose libraries that put art direction into the driver’s seat of content creation
- The installation of a factory ‘Clean Room’ – a dust and fibre-free space – which represents just part of a significant production investment in the company’s Penrose factory to scale quality production
- The acquisition of Seattle-based animation studio MoCapNow, that has expanded StretchSense’s U.S. market presence and provided expert in-country technical support from a BAFTA and Academy Award winning team, cementing the position of the MoCap Pro glove as the leading finger tracking device in North America.