Hull virtual reality firm named as partner for new Microsoft headsets

By Hull Daily Mail | Posted: 8 Jan 2018

A Hull virtual reality firm has been selected as a partner by global computer giant Microsoft, to help it develop applications for a new and groundbreaking ‘mixed reality’ headset technology.

VISR has been whittled down from 2,000 hopefuls to be named as one of 14 of Microsoft’s mixed reality partners to work on its new HoloLens headset.

The firm, based at the Enterprise Centre at the University of Hull, is also working for another Silicon Valley giant, Google.

VISR is now developing and manufacturing most of the software and hardware for the Google Cardboard virtual reality headsets, which involve placing mobile phones into cardboard headsets.

VISR also beat off competition from 20,000 other companies to be one of only 360 selected for the Microsoft Ventures accelerator programme globally, giving its team access to state-of-the-art technical know-how and facilities.

Lindsay West, who co-founded the firm in 2014 with Louis Deane, used his background at successful family firm Garthwest to launch VISR’s own cardboard VR headset.

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“Hull has been at the forefront of gaming and virtual reality technology for decades,” Mr West said.

“To have access to such resources and world-leading expertise as a start-up business has been invaluable to us and, without it, we wouldn’t be where we are today.

“As well as growing our business globally, we are passionate about repaying the university’s good will, by providing talented local people with an opportunity to make careers in our amazing industry.”

Co-founder and director Lindsay West

VISR is currently specialising in three business areas – Google cardboard, Vertx mixed-reality technology and ViSR’s gaming team.

Vertx is a tool which will allow people to see virtual objects, like VR, on top of reality as seen through Hololens or another mixed reality headset.

Before the end of this year, the company also plans to launch its first computer game, called Scrap Attack: A Botanika Story, a cartoon-based, arcade-style shooting game based as a prelude to an epic world-building game they will later develop.

Programmer William Meade using a headset

Mr West said: “Software and games development represents a credible and exciting career opportunity for the city’s young people and we want to make them realise just what they have right here on their doorstep.

“At the moment, we have fantastic talent in the city, which is being nurtured by an amazing university, but then that talent often leaves to go and work in places like the USA.

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"We want to give them a reason to stay and develop their careers here, by creating jobs, opportunities and an enviable worldwide reputation.

“There is also a need to raise the sights of some of our young people. They might not aspire to go to university but if they’re playing on their X-box and pick up a game cover which says ‘developed in Hull’, how aspirational will that be?”

Co-founder and director Louis Deane

Lindsey Nicklin took over as Enterprise Centre Manager early last year, and she says she is extremely proud of the centre’s role in supporting VISR’s rise to success.

She said: “VISR is clearly going places, and we’re all really excited to see the team put the city – and the university – on the map for gaming and other kinds of virtual innovation.

“They’re a fantastic example to other businesses of what can be achieved from relatively humble beginnings, and are one of many business success stories to emanate from the Enterprise Centre.”

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