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Prince Charles admires Kiwi innovation, economic success

His Royal Highness has inspected a Sealegs amphibian craft, visited a Shear Brilliance wool exhibition and seen examples of technological innovation at Auckland University.

Caleb Allison
Mon, 12 Nov 2012

Prince Charles has experienced some of New Zealand's most innovative technological research during a visit to University of Auckland's Owen G Glenn building this afternoon. 

He saw five of the university's developments and their commercial applications, which were set up separately in the style of a school science fair.

He first met with Dr Mark Sagar who has created a 'live' computer-generated baby. 

Prince Charles was impressed by Dr Sagar's baby simulation, which can laugh, cry, and respond to those around it.

Dr Sagar - who has also won an Academy Award for his work with Weta Digital on the film Avatar - has developed a laboratory at the Auckland Bioengineering Institute where visitors can experience software models which enable people to see the inner workings of the brain. 

He is working with the centre for brain research to model the neural systems involved in diseases such as Huntington's Disease. 

Prince Charles observes a demonstration of a wireless power generator. (Photo: Caleb Allison)

Prince Charles then observed a small, low-cost power generator, also developed at the Bioengineering Institute. 

Researchers have developed the process by making artificial muscles made of stretchy rubber that can be made into sensors and power generators. 

The Prince watched as a female model demonstrated the power generation by walking on yellow pads. 

"They are light, form-fitting, silent energy harvesters which have excellent mechanical properties that match human muscle characteristics. 

"Ours are so compact that in the future they can easily be incorporated into clothing where they could harvest energy from the wearer's movement," biometrics laboratory head, associate professor Iain Anderson said

Prince Charles saw a wireless power generator, which can charge objects such as cell phones without the devices having to be connected to anything. 

Researchers demonstrated another wireless charging device which is designed to work with electric cars so they can power themselves. 

He also saw software developed by Dr John Rugis which offers a visual insight into the inner-workings of the earth. 

Using 3D computer-generated models, Dr Rugis showed Prince Charles a visual representation of the recent earthquakes which occurred in Canterbury. 

The Prince left the university to cheers from students who had been watching quietly as he viewed each display. 

Prince Charles and his wife, Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, have a day off tomorrow, before going to Wellington, Feilding and Christchurch. 


EARLIER: Prince Charles is gettting a first-hand look at some of New Zealand's most innovative technological developments in Auckland today.

The Prince of Wales and his wife, Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, are on their second day of a brief tour to commemorate the Queen's diamond jubilee.

They began today with a visit to the AUT Millenium Centre on the North Shore, where they met some of New Zealand's top Olympians and athletes.

They also attended a performance of Hairy Maclary at the Bruce Mason Centre in Takapuna, where they met with the show's cast and crew and author Dame Lynley Dodd, one of Camilla's favourite writers.

ABOVE: Prince of Wales and his wife, Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, were thronged by several thousand well-wishers, plus a couple of protesters, during a midday walkabout in the downtown Auckland CBD (photo: Chris Keall). 

Sealegs visit
The couple went their separate ways shortly after midday when Prince Charles travelled to the Devonport Naval Base to have a look at the amphibious vessels developed by Albany company Sealegs.

After meeting the company's CEO, David Glen, and HamiltonJet's Dave Hopkins, Prince Charles, in a business suit, was unable to cross Waitemata Harbour in a Sealegs because there was no shelter from the rain.

He came across instead in a Hamilton jetboat to the search and rescue base at Mechanics Bay.

One of New Zealand's great marine success stories, Sealegs boats are used in 35 countries for a range of uses, including the Queensland flood rescue, the Mumbai police and the Italian fire rescue service.

Prince Charles arrived at Mechanics Bay shortly after leaving Devonport, where he met staff and volunteers, and inspected the operations room.

ABOVE: Not everyone was a fan.

Wool exhibition

The couple had a brief walkabout in Lower Queen St before Prince Charles visits the Shear Brilliance wool exhibition at The Cloud on Queens Wharf and Camilla visits East Tamaki Primary School.

During the wool exhibition visit Prince Charles will see a demonstration of the fire retardant properties of wool by the New Zealand Fire Service, and inspect a number of other exhibition spaces.

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Caleb Allison
Mon, 12 Nov 2012
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Prince Charles admires Kiwi innovation, economic success