“I leveraged my partners. I made some moves and did some things and came up with it." see more
Source: Times Colonist
Author: Andrew Duffy
Daytona 500 deal revs Victoria simulator maker’s engine
When the drivers line up along the grid for the Daytona 500 on Feb. 18, there will be one Victoria man — and his inner seven year-old — likely to be more excited and nervous than anyone around the Daytona International Speedway.
Robert Stanners, chief executive of VRX Simulators, has waited 45 years to see his name on the hood of a NASCAR race car, and that day he’ll see it splashed across the 00 Camaro driven by Jeffrey Earnhardt.
It will be a big moment for Stanners, who fell in love with motorsport as a seven- year-old watching the cartoon Speed Racer on TV — VRX stands for Virtual Racer X and Racer X was his favourite Speed Racer character — but it will also splash the company name in front of a massive television audience.
But Stanners seems to look at the partnership with Earnhardt as more of an imperative, and the right thing to do for the sport, than a chance to catch some limelight.
“I could not sit back and allow there not to be an Earnhardt in [the Daytona 500],” said Stanners, a fan of the sport and of one of the most famous racing families in NASCAR. “There’s been an Earnhardt in that race for 39 years.”
Earnhardt lost his ride late last year, but StarCom Racing came up with a car and VRX stepped in as the sponsor.
Stanners, who has always wanted his own racing team, had already been working with the young Earnhardt — grandson to legend Dale Earnhardt Sr. and nephew to Dale Earnhardt Jr. VRX provided a training simulator for the young driver who wanted track-like training without the high cost and high risk of running laps in a million-dollar vehicle.
But to keep an Earnhardt in the Daytona 500 this year required a $7.5 million sponsorship commitment.
“I didn’t have that,” Stanners said with a laugh. But he did have big-name and big-money partners.
“I leveraged my partners. I made some moves and did some things and came up with it, and last week they announced Canada’s first ever fully sponsored NASCAR team,” he said.
Stanners wouldn’t elaborate on the moves, or the partners involved, but he does have a stable of big ones behind him.
VRX, which started with Stanners’ vision for racing and aircraft simulators for the home market and commercial use in 2003, has since worked with Microsoft, Intel, Ericsson, Toyota, Cineplex and T-Mobile, to name a few.
His work will get international exposure Feb. 18 at the Daytona 500. VRX will also ship demonstration products to the race site.
VRX got its first major boost in 2006 when it partnered with Microsoft’s Forza Motorsport to create a hardware environment to experience the video game.
“They wanted to build the best motorsports game ever, we partnered to create that user experience and that kick-started VRX,” Stanners said.
After selling one in 2003, they sold 30 to 35 in 2006. The units range from about $12,000 US to well over $400,000 US. “We rode the coattails of Microsoft,” he said.
VRX has started talks with NASCAR about improving the experience for spectators — think seats and headgear that let fans ride along with any driver — and about programs to draw in young people through getting them behind the wheel and into the virtual environment of the driver.
“We are about to do things that could change the experience side and kickstart new technology and ways to ignite the motorsports industry,” said Stanners.
He is also working with Cineplex to manufacture simulators for its Playdium and Rec Room concepts that are being installed across Canada.
But sitting in his office/manufacturing space in the industrial park in North Saanich, Stanners is adamant that all of the growth and expansion (he expects to double his staffing to 34 from 17 and require new space within the year) will have broader applications in education, safety and mobility.
He said VRX is a means to an end and he hopes it continues to put him in position to meet and partner with some of the heaviest hitters in the world, the ones who can make huge impacts.
An admitted idealist, Stanners wants to push people to use technology to keep improving the world.
And he promises the next two years will lead up to a big event “that will shake the world” when he announces VRX World.
“We are planning, building and designing VRX World now,” he said, noting they will make the announcement of what that entails at the start of 2020.
His excitement is noticeable as he holds court and you can still see the inner seven-year-old who fell in love with things that go fast. “I’m in a dream, and it really just got started,” he said.
Feb 18, 2018 will mark the ﬁrst race as a primary sponsor for VRX in the Monster Energy NASCA Cup... see more
VRX Simulators & Jeffrey Earnhardt Team Up to Continue the Earnhardt Legacy
In a bold move that brings innovative VR technology deeper into NASCAR, Canadian-based VRX has signed a sponsorship deal with Jeffery Earnhardt, grandson of legendary driver Dale Earnhardt and nephew of Dale Earnhardt, Jr.
“I am excited to carry on the Earnhardt name, not only in NASCAR, but in the DAYTONA 500,” says Earnhardt. “I am grateful to have an awesome partner like VRX Simulators come on board, to help keep this tradition going. VRX is one of the world’s best simulator companies and I am proud to represent them!”
The 60th running of the DAYTONA 500 at Daytona International Speedway on February 18th, 2018 will mark the ﬁrst race as a primary sponsor for VRX in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series.
“I’m very proud to partner with Jeffery Earnhardt,” says VRX CEO, Robert Stanners Jr. “This partnership will bring NASCAR to an even more advanced level – and allow fans to experience the thrill of racing through our simulators.”
VRX has developed and deployed VR Motorsports technology for years, with a focus on NASCAR simulations and set-ups for the past seven. Aligning VRX Simulators with StarCom car #00 and rubber-on-the-road racing, brings the innovation training technology of VRX to an even larger audience who will have the chance to experience true race training.
"The Daytona 500 will be a big milestone for both of us and with everything we have planned for the next year, Jeffrey will play a key role in how VRX technology impacts NASCAR and online racing in amazing ways for years to come.”
Tune into FOX, Sunday February 18 at 2:30pm ET to catch the DAYTONA 500 at Daytona International Speedway. For more information on VRX Simulators visit www.vrx.ca.
There were robots and rockets and a talking glove, oh my! see more
Source: Times Colonist
Author: Michael Reid
Around Town: Geeking out at Discover Tectoria
There were robots and rockets and a talking glove, oh my!
It wasn’t just super-cool technological crowd-pleasers like these that made Discover Tectoria, the high-tech showcase that packed them into Crystal Garden on Friday, such a blast.
As one visitor remarked, almost as impressive as the high-tech doodads was that there were so many We’re Hiring signs displayed by dozens of local technology companies that participated.
While this family-friendly event did to some extent have the feel of a hiring fair, it was a predominantly educational and entertaining showcase for the region’s thriving tech sector.
“What is Tectoria, anyway?” was one question overheard from those not already in the know about the catchy moniker created by VIATEC (Victoria Innovation, Advanced Technology and Entrepreneurship Council) in 2011.
To quote its playful slogan, Tectoria, the umbrella title for the capital region’s tech sector, is “home to 100 killer whales and 1,500 killer apps.”
To describe the products and opportunites on view as mind-blowing would be putting it mildly, whether you were marvelling over the fun and games or the scientific applications.
Popular draws included Victoria Hand Project’s low-cost 3D-printed prostheses, used in developing countries where amputees have limited access to prosthetic care.
Another eye-catcher was Tango, the revolutionary glove designed to overcome the communications barrier between deaf and hearing individuals by using a glove equipped with sensors and a microcontroller.
A user’s hand gestures correspond to phrases or letters that, via Bluetooth, appear on a smartphone screen in a text format that can be output as a digitized voice.
Kamel Hamdan, Alaa Dawod and Abdul-Rahman Saleh head the development team for the University of Victoria project, working in association with Coast Capital Savings’ Innovation Centre.
Other highlights included LimbicMedia’s interactive blinking-light installation; VRX Ventures’ massive racing simulator; and the Holografx station’s Instagram photo booth.
“We’re creating a new prototype, our biggest screen at 49 inches,” said Anamaria Medina, a Colombia-raised electrical engineer who works at the Esquimalt-based company.
The tech firm develops innovative holographic tools used to showcase products, services and company logos, she said.
“We did the Instagram photo booth because this is what teenagers do now,” she said, pointing to giant hashtags and other social media tools.
Matthew McCormack said he joined a capacity crowd for an afternoon seminar on Victoria’s video game sector in the Innovation Theatre to learn about employment opportunities.
“I want to know how to get into the video game arts. What’s the best route to get my first job, to skip over working at the grocery store and get right to where I want to be working?” the Claremont student said.
McCormack, an avid gamer who plays Rainbow Six, a first-person shooter, and the futuristic vehicular soccer game Rocket League, learned being a fan isn’t necessarily enough.
“It’s a highly competitive industry. We don’t just hire you if you’re really into games,” said Eric Jordan, CEO of Codename Entertainment, with a smile.
“You’ve got to be really good at art, or marketing, or businesss or programming, depending on what we’re hiring you for.”
Jordan offered the crowd some pointers, including VIATEC’s Student Video Game Work Experience Program, which gives students a chance to work in a gaming studio.
Moderator James Hursthouse of DigiBC got a few laughs when he asked if “there is something in the water here” to explain why so many tech types come to Victoria.
“I think it’s where people want to live,” said Magda Rajkowski of Kano Apps. “It’s beautiful here, and there’s a lot of creativity.”
Even before you entered Victoria Conference Centre, it was hard to miss UVic Centre for Aerospace Research’s sleek carbon fibre-and-fibreglass drone parked outside.
“This is our workhorse, an aircraft designed to carry payloads, conduct research for companies or collaborators who want to test equipment,” explained operations manager Eldad Alber.
One software developer, for example, asked the team to design wings that would be flexible based on their software designed for such a purpose.
“Hopefully we’ll get more students interested in aerospace,” said Alber. “A master’s program for aeronautics is going to be available soon, so it would be nice to see more exposure and people applying for it.”