The HITLabUS model as described above was successfully exported to New Zealand during the past year to form the HITLabNZ. As a result there are now in New Zealand several government and industry projects underway and a Virtual Worlds Consortium of ten companies that are linked to the 50 companies in the US Consortium. The NZ government has recognized that the HITLabUS model is viable and can have incredible impact in helping NZ have a presence in the world and become one of the leaders in this important field of human interface technology and virtual reality. The director of the HITLabNZ is Dr. Mark Billinghurst, who was one of Prof. Furness’ students at the University of Washington.
In recent discussions with the IDA, we have explored the idea of forming a HITLab in Singapore that will also import the HITLabUS model and form a partnership with the HITLabUS and other HITLabs being organized. Such a partnership has been encouraged by a longstanding colleaguial relationship between Prof. Tom Furness at University of Washington, Prof. Mark Billinghurst at the University of Canterbury, Prof. Adrian Cheok at the National University of Singapore, and Prof. Bruce Thomas at the University of South Australia. These faculty have been working together through the aegis of the HITLabUS and now desire to extend this relationship to grow other HITLabs then combined these into a meta HITLab in the Asia Pacific region.
Discussed below are features of the HITLabSG and a process and plan for its establishment.
4.0 HITLab Singapore: Mission & Objectives
We propose to organize a HITLab in Singapore with a mission to develop and transition new media and human interface technology that will empower people working with computing and communication machines.
The key objectives of the HITLabSG are the following:
Create a world center of excellence for human interface technology.
Provide multi-disciplinary project-based learning environment for students.
Transition technology to promote economic development of Singapore.
Open new doors for creativity and the arts.
Work toward a federation of HITLabs in Singapore, New Zealand, Mexico, Australia and the USA to form a HITLab Asia Pacific.
In keeping with these objectives HITLabSG will develop and transistion those technologies that will:
Recapture lost world citizens (e.g. who are lost to productive lives due to disabilities or illiteracy.)
4.1 Strategy for forming the HITLabSG (Phase 1)
We propose to take a two step process in establishing the HITLab in Singapore. The first step or phase is to work together with the three partners (NUS, IDA and UW) to define a working agreement and operational plan for the HITLabSG. The second step is to execute that plan, open the HITLabSG, and begin operations.
Specifically, in Phase 1 we propose to accomplish the following:
Establish a Memorandum of Agreement between the three partners (NUS, IDA and UW) regarding the guiding principles for a HITLabSG.
Form an organizational entity and charter that will fulfill the agreement between partners above. It is proposed that this entity will be a company limited by liability (i.e. HITLab Singapore Pte Ltd.) that is fully owned by the three partners, with a board of directors representing the three partners and other stakeholders in industry, government and Singapore Institutions of Higher Learning as appropriate.
The Entity, in turn, organizes a research center at the National University of Singapore.
The research center identifies project scope and deliverables as part of the research activities in start-up phase 1. (see Appendix E)
4.1.1 Management of the Entity during Phase 1
During the start up phase we propose the following management structure:
The Entity will have a board of directors comprising representatives from the UW (HITLabUS, NUS and IDA).
It is proposed that Prof. Tom Furness be appointed to Chair the Board, assisted by Dr. Adrian Cheok as deputy Chairman.
The Entity’s board shall have overall responsibility for the Entity’s activities.
The Board may contract the services of Pacific Edge Technologies, NZ and perhaps other organizations to provide management consulting services to the Entity, as required and agreed by IDA in the grant approval for Phase 1.
4.1.2 Operation of the Entity in Phase 1:
The Board of the Entity (e.g. HITLab Singapore Pte Ltd.) will appoint a senior manager who has a good knowledge of the Singapore/Global Infocomm industry environment and industry experience to manage the operations of the Entity. (IDA will assist in recruiting this manager.)
The primary duties and obligations of the senior manager are as follows:
Develop industry networks and generate industry collaborations from it funded research.
Administer and channel the Entity’s resources for research.
Administer operational matters in accordance with the Entity’s charter.
The senior manager reports to the Entity Board of Directors.
4.1.3 Project Scope and Deliverables in Phase 1:
The Entity, through its operating location at the NUS, will begin a research project at the commencement of Phase 1. With the approval of IDA, Dr Adrian Cheok will organize the research agenda and lead the Entity’s research work as outlined in Appendix E. This research will address digital exchange, digital convergence and digital entertainment technologies of strategic interest to the IDA. This research will be funded via a grant from the IDA. The outcomes of the research will then be measured according to a set of deliverables within the Phase 1 project period as specified in the project proposal herein.
The Entity will formulate plans for Phase 2 including the following deliverables:
The Entity will identify at least one project ready for commencement at the beginning of Phase 2. It is intended that this project will involve international collaborations with the other HITLabs in the US and New Zealand and/or other parties along with a plan to manage international intellectual property.
The Entity will organize a Virtual Worlds Consortium in Singapore and begin recruiting industrial and other members. The Consortium will be patterned after the Consortia in the US and NZ. As part of the official launch of the HITLabSG in phase 2, the first Virtual Worlds Consortium meeting will be held in Singapore. Also in phase 2, reciprocal membership in the HITLabUS and HITLabNZ consortia will be provided to HITLabSG industrial members.
Roles and responsibilities of the partners in Phase 1
NUS will contribute research expertise, NUS University facilities and manpower in the form of research students.
HIT Lab US will provide research and management expertise and initial use of the HIT Lab processes, branding, and expertise in setting up the lab for Phase 2 and provide association with the Virtual Worlds Consortium after the execution of phase 2.
IDA will contribute seed funding in the form of grant award (subject to satisfactory evaluation of the joint proposal by HIT Lab US and NUS Mixed Reality Lab).
NUS Mixed Reality Lab and HIT Lab US will execute the project according terms and conditions of grant approval.
4.1.5 Funding for Phase 1
Table 2 shows the funding plan (in US Dollars) for Phase 1.
The IDA will provide a grant to the Entity that will be used for the pre-approved items in the schedule above. The Entity will account for the spending to IDA along with a declaration of meeting the defined above. Further funding of the HITLabSG into Phase 2 will be conditional upon meeting the deliverables of Phase 1.