These two sisters are on a mission to popularise immersive technologies in Brunei

Nursheila Ziziumiza (first on the front row) and Sarinah Ziziumiza, with the other team members of Rumine Corporation

In 2018, Nursheila Ziziumiza and her younger sister Sarinah Ziziumiza, who are passionate about immersive technologies such as Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR), decided to try their luck at the BICTA (Brunei Info-Communication Technology Awards).

BICTA is an annual event co-organised by the Ministry of Transport and Infocommunications, the Authority for Info-Communications Technology Industry of Brunei Darussalam (AITI) and InfoCom Federation Brunei (IFB) to stimulate innovation and creativity in the ICT industry amongst individual, students and associations including SMEs. It aims to be the benchmark for local ICT companies and educational institutions to compete with each other and to represent Brunei in the Asia Pacific ICT Alliance (APICTA).

The sisters submitted two projects, ‘MechSim’ and ‘GoBacker’, with the BICTA.

Mechsim is a virtual assembly simulation for basic learning and training for employees and students using virtual reality and hand gesture sensors. Gobacker, on the other hand, is a crowd-sourcing platform where a community can build around innovative ideas to market them to the public.

The projects won the competition, earning the sisters a place at the APICTA.

“After this event, a company approached us to create a Safety Hazard VR for them. This was a turning point. This motivated us to start our own company in 2020,” Sarinah tells e27.

Rumine Corporation was founded by the Ziziumiza sisters. Sarinah, the CEO, also heads the Centre of Technology Enhancement Learning (CTEL) at the Institute of Brunei Technical Education (IBTE). Nursheila, the CTO, is a system engineer at E-Government National Centre (EGNC). Both are also part of the committee manager for Digital Makers Asia Pacific (DMAP), Google Developer Group (GDG), and Women Techmakers (WTM).

In a nutshell, Rumine Corporation enables businesses or industries to create customised AR, VR, Mixed Reality, Extended Reality (XR), and Applied Games (AG).

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“AR/VR and applied games technologies offer a whole new experience, and these technologies can enhance industry operations,” says Sarinah. “AR/VR and applied games-guided training and instructions, combined with remote support, provide instant access to expert knowledge for client workforces. We want to see our nation Brunei adopt such technologies.”

The company offers a customisable platform for personalised learning where users can train remotely. With the solution, more competency skills can be developed and provide cost-effective operation benefits via technology towards the green economy and social mobility.

According to Sarinah, the sisters’ experience in content and digital strategies across different areas allows them to support the full development of AR/VR products from concepts to delivery.

“Before establishing Rumine Corporation, immersive technologies were new and not widely known in Brunei,” says Sarinah. “Therefore, we began experimenting with the technology and combining our expertise. When Rumine was founded, few people were initially aware of its existence. We then joined competitions, such as CIPTA, ASEAN Korean Startup, Accelerate, Livewire and DST InnoLab, to showcase our projects.”

And then the company started drawing attention and began to grow.

With its solution, Rumine Corporation targets vocational-technical and lifelong learners. It plans to capture at least 5 per cent of Brunei’s market share. It will also expand to South Korea as its digital economy is ranked number one globally.

The startup follows different business models: The B2B model enables corporate clients to reach them for project customisation, while the B2C model focuses on e-commerce for independent learners. At the same time, the B2B2C model offers a SaaS platform where training providers can visit the platform and browse for training content.

Immersive tech industry in Brunei

Brunei has a relatively small gaming industry compared to other countries in Southeast Asia, but it is growing steadily. The industry is still in its early stages, but there are indications of positive growth and potential for further development, says Nursheila.

“Some trends and factors contribute to the growth of the gaming industry in Brunei, such as mobile gaming is the dominant gaming platform in Brunei,” notes Nursheila. “The widespread availability of smartphones and affordable mobile data plans have contributed to the growth of the mobile gaming industry.”

VR gaming is still a new market in Brunei but is growing in popularity. The country’s first VR gaming arcade was opened in 2018, and more are expected to follow.

“The Brunei government has expressed its support for developing the country’s gaming industry. It has also recognised the potential of the industry to create employment opportunities and boost the economy,” she shares.

E-sports is also a growing trend, with increasing tournaments and competitions being held in Brunei. The Brunei E-sports Association (BESA) was established in 2019 to promote and develop e-sports in the country.

Rumine Corporation seeks seed funding to develop its product and services, build a team, and expand the business. The capital can also help attract and retain talented individuals by providing them with salaries and benefits and building a strong team to execute its vision. Furthermore, the money will help it accelerate our growth and develop its products and services more quickly.

The Ziziumiza sisters’ ultimate objective is to help their nation thrive in immersive technologies. “We hope more and more people will use immersive technologies in the future, as digital innovations are growing rapidly,” Nursheila says.

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