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    Kings of cool

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    AA10-Jun-Jul-2005-bullantsWhat’s better than creating a successful business? Doing it with style!

    Most companies are content to provide a useful product or service. But for a groovy few, this is not enough — they have to bring a smile to your face, tickle your fancy and leave you wanting a piece of their action. Who needs to shell out millions for a masterful marketing campaign when the core offering is so damn seductive? Sure it’s winter, but the temperature just dropped a few more degrees. Introducing… the Kings of Cool. By Catherine Kerstjens.

    RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE

    And if this sounds like a bad 1990s flashback, think again. Their product, a_rage (an acronym for augmented reality active game engine) has already busted the boundaries of existing virtual reality gaming technology — quite literally.

    “In virtual reality, you can’t see the outside world. But a_rage’s breakthrough technology makes it possible for game players to see video game objects integrated with their real world. It truly puts you ‘inside the game’ like never before,” says Joe Velikovsky, Creative Director of A-Rage.

    Inspired by sensory immersion technologies in hit movies such as ‘The Matrix’ and ‘ExistenZ’ and backed up by a partnership with world leading experts at the Wearable Computer Lab unit of the University of South Australia, the A-Rage team could soon be leading the gaming scoreboard.

    “In essence, the a_rage package is made up of a head mounted visor and a backpack that plugs into a handheld console. The design also incorporates surround-sound audio technology,” says Velikovsky.

    “We are currently seeking investment, and meeting with industry heavyweights such as Sony Computer Entertainment Inc to decide which mobile game console to make a_rage compatible with.”

    The company hopes to package the system with “five games, with short playtimes, but high replay value” at retail price of approximately $500. “After that, we’d like to see other developers port their games to the system, using our A-Rage game engine,” expands Velikovsky.

    In December of last year, A-Rage took their prototype to the Australian Game Developer’s conference in Melbourne. Here, their first demonstration game, ‘Sky Invaders’, won second prize for best professional unsigned game.

    A-Rage hopes to see its dream of playing video games outdoors a reality for game players within the next 18 months, promising to make a_rage all the rage with a new generation of gamers.

    COOL BANANNAS

    Australia can now claim its own ‘Cool Hand Luke’. Monkey Physics cofounder Luke Beard, together with his former lecturer, Brian Doidge of the Adelaide Institute of TAFE, have created a platform to stop mobile games developers monkeying around.

    “Monkey Physics creates mobile gaming engines which, along with developer kits, allow licensed game developers to make mobile games,” says Beard.

    Coming from a background where both played games for fun, Beard and Doidge decided to tackle the mobile phone game industry, believing that they could do better than many of the industry gorillas. Their intention to invigorate the industry with bigger and more exciting games was initially received with scepticism, but the results spoke for themselves.

    “We found a way to break up game content, which meant that users could download a game bit by bit. This solved a significant problem because most mobile phones are unable to download large amounts of content in one hit,” explains Beard. “This also meant game developers and designers could be more ambitious with the programs they create.”

    The links that they have developed with international telecommunications companies, together with the additional support that their company can offer games developers — from testing and handset advice, to commercialisation assistance — creates a complete package to gaming developers.

    Recognition for the Monkey Physics pair has followed.

    Awarded a Federal commercialisation grant, and the Heinsohn- Deer Commemorative Award for their work in the graduate Entrepreneurial program at Adelaide University Research Park, Beard and Doidge are paving the way for games beyond the calibre of ‘Snake’ and ‘Tetris’.

    Monkey Physics are taking mobile phone games beyond the play room and onto the next level.

    NATURE’S CALL

    Changing the world from the bottom up has become a motto for Natural Event founders Hamish Skermer and Simon Ellis.

    “We have developed a portable toilet system that benefits the environment and also economically matches the options currently available on the market — without pumping waste products into our bays,” says Skermer.

    Together, the Melbourne-based duo represent a unique force in the portable toilet industry. Ellis brings his landscape architecture skills to the company, while Skermer adds an environmental science background. But it is their mutual love of music to which the Natural Event phenomenon owes its origins.

    Skermer set-up the successful Folk, Rhythm and Life festival on his parent’s property in El Dorado, Victoria, ten years ago. But in 2000 a council order prohibiting their waste handling procedures looked set to close the festival down.

    “We literally had to jump 28 steps forward to prove our belief that waste is not a problem, but a resource,” recalls Skermer. “By exercising great tenacity we were able to take what was perhaps a fateful incident and turn it into an opportunity to become world leaders in the field.”

    The toilet is a flat-pack, modular design, which is easily erected onsite.

    “Our toilet has more than five times the transportability of our competitors. We are able to fit eighty-plus toilets onto a truck, rather than fifteen. And despite this, ours is still the roomiest cubicle on the market!” says Ellis.

    The toilet’s composting chamber can handle an indefinite amount of waste without blockage. The chamber is replaceable, allowing the treatment process to take place within. The waste takes six to ten months to break down. It can then be used as a soil conditioner and fertiliser. Customers are able to opt for an on-site treatment or have the waste removed following the event.

    Dr Robert Van de Graaf, an independent Geoscientist who wrote the standards for waterless composting toilets for Australia and New Zealand, has enthusiastically endorsed their product. They are also finalists in this year’s Next Big Things awards.

    “We would like to be recognised as a flagship company and a prime example of funky green economics,” says Skermer.

    The Natural Event port-a-loo is already being used at large events such as the annual Falls Festival in Lorne, Victoria. Skermer and Ellis also recognise the potential usefulness of their product during natural disasters.

    With a growing number of fans and groupies behind it already, the Natural Event port-a-loo looks set to be a sell-out: sitting room only.

    KART WHEEL

    Wheeling and dealing is all in a day’s work for Andrew Foley, CEO of Flatout Events, and owner of Orana Kart. “The Orana Kart is an exciting twin-engine endurance-racing machine built to sustain the rigours of up to 24-hour non-stop racing and the unforgiving demands of kart hire conditions,” says Foley.

    Developed within the quiet and rural setting of the Orana Region in central New South Wales, which became its unlikely namesake, the Orana Kart is now revving and raring to go.

    Backed with support from the Austrade Tradestart program, the New South Wales Department of State and Regional Development and the Dubbo City Development Corporation, the state-of-the-kart technology looks set to make a global impact.

    “The Middle East and the USA are primary target markets for the Orana Kart,” says Foley. “Endurance go-kart racing is a budding sport in Australia, but one with a very long history across the Northern Hemisphere. The Orana Kart is positioned to be highly competitive from both performance and pricing perspectives,” he said.

    The Orana Kart’s export potential stems from the kart’s many unique attributes. Australian-designed and constructed alloy chassis and rotational-mould pods, adjustable pedal lengths and a 4-piston caliper brake are just some of the features that roll off the tongue.

    Stability, strength and staying power make the Orana Kart a potential champion in any market.

    BUILDING BLOCKS

    The process of building and designing a house looks set to become child’s play, courtesy of Time Development’s ‘Time 2000’ project. And thankfully there’s no allen key involved!

    “The modular building solution will be manufactured like a motor vehicle and its components will be changeable and removable, enabling numerous design and use permutations within a standardised building system,” says Stephen Donovan, Director of Time Developments.

    The building modules are fitted for distribution through standardised shipping networks — in a box no bigger than a shipping container.

    “The ‘Time 2000’ Mobile Smart House doubles in size when erected on site. What’s more, a six-storey building can be assembled in a matter of days,” says Donovan.

    Its size makes delivery easy and its unique lock-fast foundation system enables immediate installation of the building, in almost any location. The interior possibilities allow every homeowner to exercise their flair for design. Foldout components are also available, allowing universal space to vary over the course of a day — forming a home, office, or both.

    “International experts have identified property’s high fixed costs, low utilisation rates and the need to address environmental concerns, as the main challenges currently facing the property industry,” says Donovan. “We envisage the creation of more sustainable buildings which will enable greater realisation of capital, human and natural resources”.

    The applications run into the infinite, with hotel, office, residential, and education sectors being key target markets. Donovan also recognises the important contribution ‘Time 2000’ could make towards emergency relief situations and third world development — providing solid, not make-shift, shelter.

    The ‘Time 2000’ project provides the final piece to the DIY puzzle: a container that contains all of our dreams yet does nothing to block our imagination.

    FREE DIMENSIONS

    Originating out of Perth, Dynamic Digital Depth (DDD) isn’t looking through rose coloured glasses. Nor is it looking through those daggy red and blue cellophane cutout glasses that enabled the original 3-D technology. Like a superhero in disguise, DDD is bringing glasses-free 3-D to the mass market.

    With its corporate headquarters now in Santa Monica and serious innovation taking place at the Bentley Technology Park in Perth, the world is definitely in DDD’s sights, and our sight may never be the same.

    “From the beginning, the commercial potential of glasses-free 3D and the power and portability of DDD’s software applications and high quality content conversion capabilities across a variety of 3D capable displays has garnered the attention of the investment community,” says Dr. Julien Flack, DDD’s Chief Technology Officer.

    DDD has undergone a few name changes since it began life in 1993. Early successes saw the company strike up a partnership with IMAX 3D, converting the movie ‘Everest’ to 3D for cinema-goers internationally. In 2001, they sold their first glasses-free 3D display to Disney Imagineering.

    DDD and the Sharp Corporation of Japan recently entered into a signifi cant partnership that will see DDD’s TriDef DVD Player packaged for use with Sharp’s Actius RD3D and AL3D notebook computers.

    “Our TriDef DVD Player technology enables consumers to enjoy any DVD video in glasses-free 3D on compatible displays. Any video content can be instantly converted to 3D during playback using our patented image analysis techniques,” says Flack. “Combined with the new generation of cost-effective 2D/3D switchable LCD displays developed by global consumer electronics companies, DDD promises to make true glasses-free 3D viewing a mainstream activity on PCs, mobile devices, and television.”

    DDD is a big name, commanding serious partnerships and big attention on the Alternative Investment Market (AIM) in London, where it is listed. But it hasn’t forgotten the little man, for its dream will soon become a reality, not a 3D illusion.

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