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The tech at CES 2018: The good, the bad, the mildly confusing

Tech and Innovation

Posted on January 16, 2018

5 min read

Fresh off the plane back from Las Vegas, our Chief Technology Officer Hakan Eriksson reflects on what he saw and heard at CES, the world’s largest consumer electronics show.

With Telstra working at the forefront of many different technologies, CES was a timely reminder for us to constantly think about how we can bring innovation into our customers’ lives. 2018 promises to be a big year, with 5G on the near horizon and our advancing work in areas such as IoT, big data and new technologies making great progress.

Home

The smart home is becoming smarter, and maturing from only being a network of independent smart devices to becoming a complete ecosystem – including artificial intelligence (AI) to help make your interactions with your smart home more effective.

At the same time, this means that many players that earlier had their niche in the home are now in competition, with all devices containing a microphone and a speaker, and becoming part of a meshed network.

Some companies are even starting to think about how their smart home solutions can deliver indoor coverage for 5G mobile networks.

5G

Predictably, there were still a lot of discussions around the use cases for 5G, with most ideas gravitating towards applications with short latency, and the follow-on opportunities presented by the distributed cloud and the potential for edge compute.

All across CES there were many references to 5G, with some major players making 5G the key theme of their show – and that’s not only the usual suspects like Ericsson and Qualcomm, but also companies like Intel. 4G is still going strong, with Qualcomm showing a Gigabit LTE Maserati at their stand.

Cars

Connected, driverless and electric cars have now made CES their home – separate to the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, which is the place for traditional vehicles with big muscle cars as the main attraction.

This year at CES, the latest concept cars from the big players like Toyota were shown, but also electrical and driverless “F1” cars that will take the battle of car-controlling software to the next level.

Drones and robots

Drones and robots were more impressive than ever at CES this year, coming in all shapes and sizes from palm-sized selfie stick competitors to helicopters. Drones are now also going underwater and can even catch fish for you. There was also a table tennis-playing robot that adjusted its skill level to its human opponent to make the game more interesting.

AR and VR

AR/VR and mixed reality was a bit of a disappointment. VR headsets are still big and heavy, and the resolution is still not really where it needs to be. It’s a very immersive feeling, but after a few minutes you still want to get out of the headset.

As for AR, the interaction with the applications was still quite clumsy – the best sign around the show floor that there was an AR demo going on was seeing someone trying to pinch the air in front of them in a desperate attempt to get the just-rebooted app to work.

Sight and Eye Control

A relatively new area, at least for consumer applications, is technology that can detect where you are looking. With more and more devices having integrated microphones, the devices now know when you are talking to them – but still don’t know when you are looking at them.

This technology has evolved from helping people with a disability to type by looking at the keys on the keyboard, and can now be used for better understanding how we read a web page including its ads, as well as assessing how alert a driver is.

The next step could very well be our devices at home – we will soon get tired of saying “OK Google, turn down the TV volume”, when it would feel more natural to just look at the TV and say “could you please be quiet”.

Health

The health sector was basically two segments – one focusing on all kinds of devices to monitor your health at home, mainly for those who already have an existing medical need, as well as various ways to make you sleep better.

One of the more odd devices at CES was an inflatable pillow combined with a microphone. It detected when you were snoring, then changed the shape of the pillow – with the assumption that you would stop snoring in the new position.

The other sector focused on a healthy lifestyle, mostly using different kinds of wearable devices and clothes with integrated sensors. An example was a smart helmet with built-in lights, microphone, and speakers – but also a G-force sensor that detected if you had fallen off your bike, and then called an emergency contact. There was also some connected sports underwear, which I still don’t understand.

And, of course, CES would not have been complete without the gyro-stabilised selfie stick…

image of a microprocessor chip

Viva Las Vegas – CES 2011 Here I Come

Liquid Image's Scuba Series HD dive mask

Consumer Electronics Show (CES) – Las Vegas 2011

Official Press Event for the 2011 International CES

CES showcase sneak peeks

The biggest show in Vegas? CES showcases the latest and greatest in tech

Tech and Innovation

Posted on January 10, 2018

2 min read

The Consumer Electronic Show (CES) has kicked off in Las Vegas for five days of all-you-can-eat tech and gadgetry.

Now in its 51st year, CES is expected to attract more than 180,000 visitors and will include over 4000 exhibitors across its almost 241,000sqm of show floor. CES is the biggest tradeshow of its type in the world – an annual showcase of the next generation of technology and devices.

This year our CEO, myself and a small team of representatives from across the company are attending to meet with strategic vendors, experience new technologies, and engage with developers, suppliers and entrepreneurs on emerging technology trends.

We will also spend time with Australian media attending the show to talk about the key trends and help our customers understand what they can expect to see in the not too distant future, and why the strength of our networks will be pivotal in helping Australian consumers and businesses get the most out of them.

The key themes already emerging are smart home, augmented and virtual reality, self-driving cars, eSports, smart cities, and startups from all areas of technology.

I will be particularly keen to see the tech developments in IoT, artificial intelligence and augmented reality, especially given we are now closer to the launch of 5G.

We will be keeping you updated on what is happening at CES so please take a look at our #CES2018 updates on Instagram and Twitter.

For those who are interested in finding out more about CES, you can visit here.

image of a microprocessor chip

Viva Las Vegas – CES 2011 Here I Come

Liquid Image's Scuba Series HD dive mask

Consumer Electronics Show (CES) – Las Vegas 2011

Official Press Event for the 2011 International CES

CES showcase sneak peeks

Let’s get down to business: the top technology trends for enterprises in 2018

Tech and Innovation

Posted on November 20, 2017

4 min read

Telstra’s Chief Technology Office is looking ahead to 2018, nailing down the top five technology trends that will impact global businesses during the year. From the changing realm of cyber security, to the possibilities of real time data and team collaboration tools, businesses of all sizes will feel the effects of these technologies.

  1. Cyber security

Demand for appliance-based security services should continue to decline as software-based, hosted cyber security solutions emerge. With users connecting to internet-based applications via a variety of mobiles, tablets and laptops, we can no longer simply ring-fence corporate systems from potential attack. The need for behavioral analytics-based systems is pulling security into the realm of Big Data-based solutions. Interconnected supply chains and industry ecosystems will drive Blockchain maturity for trust and verification. Security management will follow a deep learning approach throughout the application stack to improve both quality and speed of detection and response.

 

  1. Real time analytics

The complex Enterprise is looking to visualise and make physical world decisions based on information across its entire digital footprint. Multi-channel customer interactions will drive the need to access historical data for real time decision making, while adoption of IoT will increase real-time data flows. A visual representation of this ecosystem (in a dashboard or in a VR representation) throughout the enterprise will enable real time decisions, beyond the network and application performance and across the enterprise supply chain (i.e a warehouse ERP system upgrade window is moved or changed due to weather or emergency services information in a given geography not directly connected to the enterprise). Integrated views will come due to consolidation of data environments which will include third party information integration.

 

  1. Containers and microservices

Modern webscale businesses are moving to microservices and containers for compelling reasons. Microservices are small, useful functions with a cloud API that can be combined into bigger services that might run something like Uber or Amazon. Software using this approach scales better, is easier to adapt to new business needs and allows developers to pick the best frameworks or tools for writing each microservice. Interest in microservices has coincided with the arrival of containers as an alternative to virtual machines for running multiple instances of software on a single physical server. While virtual machines each run a full image of an operating system, containers are more efficient and share the operating system so many more containers run on the same server. This suits microservices well, as each service can run in its own container and there will be many more of them than traditional applications. Enterprises are seeing the benefits of microservices and containers, and are working through the challenges of migrating to this model and adapting affected licence arrangements.

hand pointing at screen

 

  1. Digital team collaboration

Email originates from the 1970s, and while it is still very popular today, it has limitations. It doesn’t cope well when communicating with dynamically changing teams, attachments are hard to find later, and if someone leaves a company the knowledge stored in their inbox vanishes. Alternatives to email have been created by eager startups and are now becoming entrenched in enterprises, and one such alternative – Slack – is valued at over $5b. Some of the major brands are including similar experiences into their own collaboration suites, e.g. Cisco has introduced a similar product called Spark, and Microsoft has their own offering called Teams. All of these enable teams within an enterprise to send messages to other team members in ways that overcome issues with email, and are particularly suited to desk-based workers like software developers.

lightbulb with gears

 

  1. Digital twin

Most enterprises have embarked on a digitisation journey to remove manual processes, connect sensors to key pieces of equipment, collect real-time data about their systems, and automate as much as possible. Full automation is still a little way off, as many existing processes cannot be replaced with simple computer-based rules, and machine learning approaches to addressing automation are still at an early stage. The challenge is then to provide people with the optimal interface for dealing with digitised parts of the company, and the ‘digital twin’ has emerged as a useful pattern for enterprises. In this approach, the real-time data is displayed as a virtual instance of a real machine or process – its ‘digital twin’ – and the human operator monitors or manipulates this instance in a familiar way. This lowers the training effort, allows the operator to be located remotely, and provides a rapid path to value.

Digital twin technology


Uber is a trademark of Uber Technologies, Inc.
Cisco is a trademark of Cisco Technology. Inc.
Slack is a trademark of Slack Technologies, Inc.

Tags: technology, trends,

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Seeing the future: what the experts are telling us

Tech and Innovation

Posted on August 1, 2017

3 min read

Recently we hosted the 10th Telstra Technology Day in Melbourne – an internal Telstra event where we invite global industry representatives to discuss some of the most important technology trends and how they will impact our business.

Here are a few interesting points from the discussion:

The Machines are Coming

  • The Network can play an important role in offloading the compute power from the connected devices to the Cloud.
  • All devices will be connected, from a power tool to a wind turbine, in order for the industry to gather data of their usage to generate insight about the product and its consumers.
  • Security is a main challenge, which in turn puts requirements on the network, end-to-end.

A New Reality

  • VR company Meta has thrown out monitors on desks for all its 140 employees, and instead everyone wears AR headsets to see as many virtual monitors as they need.
  • In the next three years, a typical AR headset will shrink from helmet size to a smaller, more appealing size. These devices will have a high impact on the PC and mobile industries and start replacing those devices (or at least replacing/complementing their screens) within 10 years.

Cyber Trust

  • With 500,000 new threats released on the internet every day, traditional anti-virus software doesn’t work anymore. Instead you need Machine Intelligence using math-based technology to predict and stop an attack, before something bad is happening.
  • Cyber risk management is not a problem to be fixed, it’s a condition to be managed.
  • The security industry is very fragmented and that requires a common platform for execution and a good Service Organisation for Operation. Open Source can provide the former and organisations like Telstra the latter.

Industry 4.0 and AI

  • With more connected devices than humans, and an increased compute power among all these devices, we are moving from human scale (all decisions made by human brain) to machine scale.
  • This revolution started in manufacturing but now there are no industries that are free from this disruption.
  • Our customers have an appetite to make better use of sensor data to improve and automate decision making.

The Future of Computing

  • The computing power needed for the AI challenges of the future requires a new kind of computer. Our classical computers just can’t scale to that level without overheating.
  • By way of illustration, a classical computer looking for a phone number would look at the directory list entry by entry to find a match, while a quantum computer would look at all entries in the directory in parallel.
  • The global race is on to be the first to achieve a 50 qubit computer, which will outperform a classical computer with 14 billion transistors. Today we are at a few qubits, and they have to operate at just above 0 Kelvin (-254 Celsius), and the computer is stable only for a few seconds.
  • It will likely up to a decade before we have a practical quantum computer, which in turn will require programming skills that are very different from the ones used for classical computers.

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Smarter Cars: How this technology will make roads safer

Tech and Innovation

Posted on July 26, 2017

2 min read

Telstra has successfully conducted the first Australian trial of Vehicle-to-Pedestrian technology on a South Australian road using the mobile network.

In 2016, there were 1,292 deaths on Australia’s roads – of which 212 involved pedestrians or cyclists. Add to that the fact that the number of vehicles on our roads is only increasing, with a greater number of cars and more commuters taking the healthy option and cycling to work.

As Australia moves towards a society of driverless cars, Telstra is investing in developing technology that will make road users safer by helping cars communicate with the things around them.

It’s called Vehicle-to-Pedestrian technology and we think that it can help reduce the number of accidents by alerting road users to imminent danger, facilitating real-time communication over the mobile network.

We have just carried out the first Australian trial of this technology in South Australia, in partnership with Cohda Wireless and the South Australian Government.

Following on from our V2I (Vehicle-to-Infrastructure) trial in October last year and a V2V (Vehicle to FVehicle) trial this February, we can now demonstrate how vehicles can interact directly with pedestrians’ and cyclists’ mobile phones providing early-warning collision detection and alerts via an application installed on their mobiles.

We tested the technology using some common scenarios that occur every day in Australia – a car and a cyclist approaching a blind corner, a car reversing out of a driveway, and a car approaching a pedestrian crossing.

The trial was supported by the South Australian Government’s Future Mobility Lab Fund, which is designed to boost local testing, research and development of connected and autonomous vehicle technologies.

With more testing planned, the full rollout and commercialisation of the technology is still a little way off – however the strength of Telstra’s 4G network and future 5G network will allow for further innovation and faster adoption of technologies such as this, ultimately helping make our roads a safer place everyone.

Tags: innovation, IoT,

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