Hiamo is a young digital innovations company from Wellington, the creative capital of New Zealand. Led by CEO Alex Hockley and CTO Shaika Khan, and incubated from the Mahuki innovation accelerator program at the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, Hiamo is developing creative, cutting edge technology for the culture and heritage sector and beyond.
What kind of Maker are you?
We (Alex and Shaika) are augmented reality makers. We create objects and place them in the real world using technology so that you can use your phone or tablet to see something that isn’t actually there! We use this to see objects, stories, and people from the past, effectively recreating history with futuristic technology.
How old were you when you first got involved in the Maker community?
This is our first year officially being part of the Maker community, and we are excited to join and see what other people are creating around us.
Why did you get into Making? Did anyone introduce you to your area of expertise?
Creating has always been something that excites both of us. Alex has many memories of building things with Lego as a kid, and this eventually progressed into the company Hiamo. Shaika and Alex started Hiamo after studying software engineering at Victoria University, where Alex’s final project was focussed on exploring how technology can bring history to life. Alex was inspired by the possibilities of augmented reality and pushed on to study what AR could do for our history.
What inspires you when you are working on a project?
Being able to see something which hasn’t been in a place for a very long time. Using augmented reality to see historic objects lets us understand history in a new way and get a viewpoint that hasn’t existed for many decades. We find this exciting, and it keeps us making more! We are also in an incredible spot where we can teach people about lesser-known parts of history, helping raise awareness about the stories that made New Zealand what it is today.
What advice would you give to young people who want to get involved?
The hardest step for learning something new is often the first one. Whatever it is your making or want to make, just give it a (safe) go! You’ll find yourself learning so much during the journey and making some amazing things. Augmented reality is a new area as well, but definitely an interesting one! You can create applications based on online tutorials which explain the process clearly and let you build AR experiences in your own home.
Tell us about a Maker that inspires you.
Simon Che de Boer and his team at Reality Virtual are New Zealand makers who create incredible virtual reality experiences that let you see places far away. His work has recreated Egyptian tombs, old homes, the Treaty of Waitangi, and more. We are inspired by his work as it captures the real world in a digital one like ours does, and his experiences are also incredibly realistic.