Prince Charles meets researchers at University of Auckland

Press Release – University of Auckland
The Prince of Wales was given a glimpse into some of the University of Auckland’s cutting edge research when he visited the City Campus earlier today.

He was welcomed at the Owen G. Glenn building by Chancellor Roger France, Vice-Chancellor Professor Stuart McCutcheon and Dr Peter Lee, Chief Executive Officer of the University’s research and commercialisation company, Auckland UniServices Limited. He was then escorted to a series of display stations and introduced to leading University researchers.

“The University and UniServices embrace innovative thinking,” said Dr Lee. “We have hand-picked some award winning examples for HRH that also have commercial application, and we are delighted to demonstrate them to such a distinguished visitor.”

His Royal Highness spent nearly an hour watching demonstrations and talking to researchers. The first of these was a presentation by Dr Mark Sagar, Director of the Laboratory for Animate Technologies at the Auckland Bioengineering Institute and a double academy award winner for his work at Weta Workshop on such films as Avatar and King Kong.

The goal of Dr Sagar’s laboratory is to create “living” technology through interactive computational models of the face and brain.

Applications for the technology range from healthcare to entertainment and Dr Sagar is already working with the University’s Centre for Brain Research to model the neural systems involved in neurodegenerative diseases such as Huntington’s Disease.

Researchers from the University’s Biomimetics Laboratory showed His Royal Highness new technology called “Artificial Muscles” – stretchy pieces of rubber that can be made into sensors, power generators and muscle-like actuators. As part of the demonstration His Royal Highness was offered a glove with built-in finger sensors to wear. By moving a hand the wearer is able to control the position of a mouse on a computer screen.

At the third research station, Dr John Rugis from the Institute of Earth Sciences and Engineering, demonstrated 3D visualisation research which is enabling geologists to show in a dynamic visual form the timing, intensity and distribution of seismic activity beneath the earth. On display for His Royal Highness was a visualisation of activity beneath the earth in Christchurch for the seven month period after the first earthquake in 2010.

The University’s world-leading development of Inductive Power Transfer (IPT) featured in the final display. In 1986 University researchers successfully made power jump across air from one object to another by intersecting two magnetic fields. Since then this IPT has been applied to the manufacture of cars, clean room production, lighting and medical devices worldwide. Today it is at the forefront of the wireless charging of electric cars and as a result of a technology transfer with Qualcomm (a US research and development company specialising in wireless communications) last year, an electric car trial currently underway in London is showcasing University of Auckland IPT technology.

At the conclusion of the visit Chancellor Roger France said: ”It was a great honour to be able to host His Royal Highness and we are delighted he chose to visit our University.”

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