Teesside software firm explores Far East and South American markets

New export opportunities are opening up from Spearhead Interactive, which specialises in 3D and virtual reality technology

The Spearhead team: front, from left, Dan Riley and Paul Li with, back, from left, Ken Turner, Andy Bell and Ian Wells
The Spearhead team: front, from left, Dan Riley and Paul Li with, back, from left, Ken Turner, Andy Bell and Ian Wells

A Teesside software firm that integrates 3D Computer Aided Design with data that can help make businesses more efficient is on the verge of exporting its products to the Far East and South America.

The Middlesbrough-based Spearhead Interactive, which provides everything from operational guides to digital replicas of buildings and environments, wants to build on its UK successes by introducing its products to clients in Japan and Brazil.

Formed with the help of a DigitalCity Fellowship, Spearhead has positioned itself at the forefront of developments in real-time 3D and Virtual Reality software, and is using technology from the world of gaming to develop applications for businesses, educators and governments.

New opportunities arose for the firm after one of its co-founders, Dan Riley, visited the Tokyo Games Show to demonstrate the software to a public audience,

While there, he also attended meetings with the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, with a view to expanding the business into Japan.

A games console manufacturer in the country and several large firms, including Sony and Samsung, have likewise expressed an interest in the technology.

Mr Riley has also recently returned from meetings in Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. during which he discussed potential applications of Spearhead’s work. One major focus is the 2016 Olympic Games, through which opportunities could arise to work alongside architects, smart-city developers, construction companies and businesses in the oil and gas sectors.

The Enterprise Europe Network North East, led by Teesside University, has also put Spearhead in contact with EEN representatives in Brazil to discuss potential new markets.

Mr Riley 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.

“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.”

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. It also provides expert mentoring, support and access to state-of the-art equipment.

DigitalCity director Michael Ryding, 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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