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The weird, wacky and wonderful world of CES 2020

Tech and Innovation

Posted on January 15, 2020

7 min read

The world of the future is put on display at the annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2020. But sprinkled amongst the life-changing apps, bots and gadgets is a smattering of the truly weird and wonderful. Here are our favourite oddities from the show floor this year.

The weird

A robot you can hug

It’s only a matter of time before the robotic future stops cleaning your floor and starts climbing onto your couch for a hug. The Lovot is that future.

This cute (???) little bot has eyes and expressions you can customise, and rolls around your house just being a friendly little companion. It has a soft body that makes it great for cuddles and arms that can be used to convey a range of expressions and actions. You can even put clothes on it, which isn’t at all creepy or weird.

The company that makes it says it should be nice to cuddle, given that its interior electronics creates a warmth similar to a puppy that has been sunning itself.

Wearables for your dog

If you’re not getting in enough steps per day, it’s a fair bet your dog isn’t either. That’s why Inupathy invented a wearable for your woofer.

It features a heart rate monitor and built-in LED display. More interestingly, it claims to be able to track your dog’s mood. The mood is inferred from the heart rate of your dog compared to its movement levels and is reflected via the built-in display for the owner to see. Could be good!

It’s not a huge surprise that this device exists, especially given that the pet tech market is now worth $565 million per year, according to research.

A breeze for your brain

I know that when I go running, my head feels like it’s on fire by kilometre number five. At that point, I’m racing just to get back into my air conditioning. But with Feher’s new concept, I might not have to suffer for much longer.

They showcased a concept at CES that puts air conditioning in a baseball cap. And unlike other AC units, it doesn’t rely on a refrigerant (like coolant) to lower your temp. Instead, they’re using thermoelectric energy to reduce your temperature by around 10-15 degrees C lower than the ambient. Nifty!

A smart cat litter box

A note to technology companies: not everything needs to be “smart” into the future. I’m looking at you, LuluPet. The company has made the world’s first smart cat litter box that can monitor your cat’s health via its…output.

If we’re making cat litter boxes smart, can we make one that empties itself, so I don’t have to deal with that?

Shared city skateboards

As if vandals didn’t have enough fun throwing shared e-bikes and e-scooters into local trees and rivers, soon they may be able to do the same to shared e-skateboards. A new company called Walnut Technology wants to put its Spectra X boards on the streets of the world for anyone and everyone to share.

Last time I checked, however, skating isn’t like riding a bike at all, is it?

The lazy future

Pixar’s Wall-E tried to show us the dangers of being idle drones that get carried through life, but that won’t stop the boffins at Segway from creating the future of city-based mobility.

The S-Pod is a self-balancing chair on wheels that lets you zip around the city at almost 40km/h at full-speed. At least you’ll be comfortable in-between your meetings?

Mercedes made a scaly Ava-car

James Cameron’s Avatar is a distant memory at this point, but that won’t stop Mercedes-Benz from creating a concept car inspired by the film.

It’s called the Vision AVTR, and on top of a wild design and an all-electric power plant, it has…scales. 33 “bionic flaps” to be precise, that Mercedes says will be used to “communicate to people outside the car”. What’s wrong with a wave or even a gentle toot of the horn?

The wonderful

The folding laptop is real

You might have seen folding phones in 2019, but 2020 might just be the year of the folding laptop.

Intel showed off its “horseshoe bend” concept at CES, and it’s everything you want from the laptop of the future: all killer folding OLED screen, no filler keyboards.

The (real?) keyless keyboard

Do you ever wish your phone keyboard could be less cramped? Don’t you just want to space out and let your hands run across the keys like mine are writing this? The Samsung SelfieType concept is here to save you.

Simply boot up the SelfieType app, turn your phone sideways and let your front-facing camera act as the virtual keyboard on the desk.

Sure, you might look weird using it, but it’s in our pick for wonderful gadgets.

A fingerprinted external SSD

Another entrant from Samsung is the T7 Touch SSD: an external hard drive that’s not only incredibly fast and portable, but also has security baked in thanks to an on-board fingerprint reader.

For too long, external hard drives have relied on software to push security to these devices, but with the T7 Touch, the security paranoid (read: me) might now have a reason to breathe easier.

A robot vacuum, but with arms

iRobot – makers of the Roomba – want to put arms on a cleaning robot in the future. It’s that simple. Using machine learning and pattern identification, the new Roomba could do things like clean your dishes or fold your washing. It’d probably do a better job than I would at both.

Headphones that track your blood pressure

Smart devices that track your steps or your workouts are good, but the number of people who have already had their lives saved by smartwatches that can read irregular heart rates make them truly worth having. That’s why I’m all for any gadget – like Valencell’s new wireless headphone concept – that can measure your blood pressure. Just don’t tell me about spikes while I’m listening to Rage Against The Machine.

A mirror that lets you try on a new ‘do

This isn’t one for your home, it’s for your local salon. CareOS wants to make your local barber’s mirror smarter, giving it the ability for you to try on new hairstyles before you get the chop. Anything to stop me from getting a hideous cut is something I’m behind.

And everything in-between

We went to CES this year and showed off not only a new world-exclusive tough phone, but also shared our plans and progress for 5G in 2020 and the future of our home entertainment offerings.

How tough is the Tough Max 3?

Devices

Posted on January 14, 2020

4 min read

The Tough Max is back, and it’s tougher than ever. But how tough is tough? We put it to the test in our studio to find out.

What is it?

It’s not only Tough by name, it’s tough by nature. Our new Tough Max 3 has military-grade IP68 water and dust resistance and an immersion rating of 1.5 metres for 30 minutes. It has huge battery power – almost a third bigger than the Tough Max 2 – and packs all the mod-cons, including fingerprint sensor, USB-C charging and NFC.

The Tough Max 3 is available from today for $499 outright, and on our 24- or 36-month repayment options on our new plans at an extra $20.79 or $13.86 per month (plus plan costs) respectively.

And right now, you have the chance to win a ute that’s as tough as your new phone! For a limited time, when you add the Telstra Tough Max 3 to any month-to-month mobile plan, you could win an Isuzu D-Max valued at $51,990! Terms and conditions apply*.

How tough is tough?

This bad-boy is tough as nails. We took it to our studio to get hands-on and to put it through its paces, and it truly does what it says on the tin.

Normally, I’d be terrified to drop any of the devices we get through our studio, with their shiny design and glass-on-glass construction. What we found with the Tough Max 3, however, is that it definitely deserves its name!

To capture our video, we had to drop the Tough Max 3 on the studio floor over, and over, and over again. And after we did that, we then started dropping it into a tank of water!

After about five hours of dropping the Tough Max 3, we ended up doing more damage to our studio floor than we did to our phone. Truly incredible stuff.

Telstra Tough Max 3

To continue putting it through its paces, we threw dust at the device which simply wipes off, and we then dropped it in water, just to make sure it was extra clean! And still, it persisted, with an incredibly bright screen and long-lasting battery to boot. That’s because the Tough Max 3 can sit in up to 1.5m of water for up to 30 minutes, thanks to its IP68 water resistance.

And to make sure your rugged phone stays pretty for longer, it comes with a tempered glass screen protector in the box so you don’t have to buy one.

Telstra Tough Max 3

We also tested the Tough Max 3 wearing gloves, as many of its users will. The problem with a lot of phones is that you can’t use it when you get your hands covered or even dirty, but the Tough Max 3 has a fantastic feature that allows you to unlock it just by looking at it: no additional interaction required. Other devices require you to swipe up once your face is recognised, but the Tough Max 3 knows its knitting when it comes to unlocking in the field.

The Tough Max 3 isn’t your ordinary phone. It’s an extraordinary device that’s designed to stand up to extraordinary stuff.

Check out the video to see it in action.

Telstra Tough Max 3

(*THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW: Competition conditions apply, see www.telstratoughmax3.com for full T&C’s and details on how to enter. Open to AU residents 18+ only. Purchase device by 30/3/20. Enter by 11:59pm AEST 27/4/20. Retain receipt/s. Draw: S5, Erina Plaza, 210 Central Caost Hwy, Erina, NSW, 2250 at 12pm (noon) AEST on 4/5/20. Winner at 222.telstratoughmax3.com 18/5/20. Prize: 1x 2019 model White Isuzu 4×4 LS-T Crew Cab Ute D-Max auto valued up to $51,990. Promoter: ZTE Australia (ABN 64 110 578 428) of 128 Exhibition St, Melbourne VIC 3000. Permits: NSW, LTPS/19/40535. ACT, TP19/04787. SA, T19/2052.)

Our predictions for 2020 and the decade beyond

Tech and Innovation

Posted on January 7, 2020

9 min read

The 2010s represented an explosion of technology we never thought we’d see. HD video in everyone’s pocket; gigabit-plus speeds in the palm of our hands and more machines connected to the internet than ever before. The 2020s are set to build on this foundation of incredible technology, and you won’t believe what’s coming next.

It’s hard to look forward 10 years and nail down exactly what’s going to happen. In 2010, for example, we didn’t know that 4G would bring with it a wave of video applications that would surpass our wildest entertainment and connectivity dreams.

As such, we want to take a look forward at what’s coming for 2020 – which we can be more certain about – and ahead into the new decade we’ve just entered. Here’s what’s next.

Top 10 trends for 2020

  • 5G hits the mainstream: Most major smartphone manufacturers this time next year will have at least one 5G handset available for sale. Industry experts are predicting that most major smartphone brands will offer a 5G device in 2020. In fact, Telstra already has tens of thousands of customers using one of six 5G devices available in the Australian market. This is just the beginning and 2020 will see more 5G network coverage and 5G devices.
  • The rise of private mobile networks: Using mobile networks for industrial connectivity can provide robust, low latency communications and high throughputs where required, as well as an upgrade path to 5G. Telstra has already been deploying private LTE networks for mining customers, such as South32’s Cannington mine in Queensland and the Roy Hill mine in Western Australia. Overseas, other industrial segments are seeing the same advantages, and I would expect to see the same pattern reflected here in Australia. For example, both Siemens and Bosch have applied for spectrum in Germany that would allow them to run private networks in their manufacturing plants.
  • The final frontier of networking: Here’s one you might not have heard about: did you know that we’re seeing satellites in low-earth orbit (LEO) to provide internet to remote areas? It’s true! As LEO comes of age, some select remote and offshore locations will begin to use it for low-latency, moderate-speed broadband in 2020. Recently we have seen launches of LEO satellites for broadband internet by the likes of Starlink and OneWeb, and announcements from Project Kuiper to eventually do similar. SpaceNews has reported Starlink will begin offering its service to consumers in 2020, although focused in the USA. Once the capability is available, it is going to unlock many new applications, whether it’s better broadband internet communications to passenger aircraft and ships or flooding an island or area with mobile coverage. At the same time, Iridium – the original LEO communications company – has now upgraded all its constellation to support broadband Internet capability, ideal for remote and offshore locations.
  • From self-checkout to automated checkout: Amazon Go shows what is possible when you fit-out a small supermarket or convenience store with sufficient cameras to track every time goods are taken or removed from the shelves, allowing shoppers to collect goods and then leave the supermarket without manual checking of all the goods. Other supermarkets and convenience chains are now looking for similar technology to Amazon Go and many alternatives have appeared. Startups like AiFi, Zippin and Standard Cognition are offering similar propositions. Given the high convenience of such offerings, it is just a short matter of time before Australian convenience stores see this as a way to attract customers. We are already offering express cashless supermarkets as well as supermarkets that have express-only checkouts.
  • Your smartphone camera learns new tricks: Your smartphone camera can snap great pics. Now what about if it was an Internet of Things sensor? Don’t laugh: it’s becoming a viable alternative to specialist sensor deployments, and it’s already in your pocket. In the first generation of Internet of Things (IoT) deployments, specialist sensor technologies were used to solve specific problems, for example, motion sensors, parking sensors, or heart rate sensors. However, it’s turned out that cameras can be used in place of those sensors and more, and with the continuing improvement in Artificial Intelligence, a camera that has been deployed can be used for additional sensing purposes once in the field. Telstra has done tests to show that a simple Raspberry Pi can be trained up to classify whether a desk is occupied or not, and has been able to use AI-equipped cameras to measure river height for tracking water flows. Enterprises will increasingly consider and select a camera-based solution over a specialist sensor for their IoT solutions.
  • Ultra-wideband become the coolest new chips you’ve never heard of: There will be more devices supporting the new Ultra-wideband (UWB) technology, which can be used within a short-range for accurately and quickly measuring distances to other UWB-equipped devices. We have used UWB in our work with Transurban to make roadside workers safer, by understanding their precise position on the side of the road without relying on GPS. While UWB has been a niche, industrial technology to date, I expect the inclusion in 2020 smartphones to give it a boost in the same way that iBeacon gave Bluetooth Low Energy a boost. It might be used to know who is in front of the television and change the profile of shows accordingly, or know whether you are immediately in front of your smart door lock and unlock the door for you. If it gets customer traction, I expect it to appear in many smartphones and other devices over the next 10 years.
  • Smartphones get weird again: For a while there, it seemed that every new smartphone looked the same – a rectangle with a glass front. Perhaps there was a notch or cut-out for cameras on the front also. However, the reduction in differentiation of smartphone form-factors has spurred innovation to find new ways to stand out from the crowd. This year, we have started seeing pop-up and flip-around cameras from various smartphone makers to increase the screen real-estate to be used for pixels. Also supporting the quest for more pixels has been Samsung with its foldable smartphones, providing a mini-tablet that folds in half to fit in the pocket. The Motorola Razr is back again with a foldable screen inside a flip-phone. More than a gimmick, these foldable phones have created a genuinely useful proposition where your screen size isn’t limited by the size of your pocket or bag. It’s also worth mentioning Google’s Project Soli has created the radar chip in the Google Pixel 4, which has the potential to open up new ways to interact with smartphones beyond touch or speech. When a phone is on a table, this technology may allow fine-grained gestures in the air to control it. It’s so amazing and fun to see this burst of innovation.
  • 4G becomes the self-driving/connected car network: Connected cars have been around for a few years, offering maps for turn-by-turn navigation, embedded infotainment, or even remote concierge services. However, the connection to the car is being used to make driving safer. In Europe, 2020 model Volvo cars warn each other of where roads are slippery or if a Volvo nearby has turned on its hazard signals. This was initially limited to Scandinavian countries, and is likely to progress to more markets next year. In the self-driving world, Alphabet’s Waymo vehicles are currently operating in some states around America at level 4 autonomy, which means no one is sitting behind the steering wheel. We’ll see other automotive brands mass-producing similar autonomous vehicle innovations next year.
  • Electric micromobility goes global: Micromobility is the concept that people will use short-range, single passenger, powered transport options like e-bikes, e-skateboards and e-scooters for short last-mile trips to/from public transport like buses or trains. Electric bikes (e-bikes) have relatively consistent rules for use across Australia, however, the rules about e-scooters are highly dependent on the state, city and whether a trial is currently underway. Even these guidelines may change, as different trials are proposed or underway, so the cities and states involved are now in a position to be able to set clear regulations that safely enable the technology for the public.

Top 11 trends for the decade

Step into the future with us as we ponder what will be possible with technology in 2030!

  • The death of the password: we’re already seeing the beginning of the end for passwords, which will decline over the decade. (Hooray!);
  • Telcos go open source:  open source adoption in the telco industry accelerates innovation and enables standardisation and commodification of much of the telco hardware stack. We’re already doing it!;
  • Next-generation wireless: the introduction of 6G and Wi-Fi 7 later in the decade based on typical standards organisation timeframes;
  • More secure Internet of Things (IoT):  cybersecurity solutions to come packaged with IoT connectivity to address risks of connecting up everything;
  • IoT goes battery-free: monitoring and positioning devices can be left in the field for as long as the sensors last;
  • Brain-machine interfaces: research such as Elon Musk’s Neuralink enables people to interact with machines without moving a muscle;
  • The rise of quantum computers: viable quantum computers for solving real-world useful problems will emerge, but will probably not be readily available to members of the public;
  • Bio-computers: systems of biologically derived molecules (such as DNA and proteins) to perform computational calculations involving storing, retrieving, and processing data;
  • Connected aerial vehicles will take flight: Remotely piloted drones for imagery, sensing, delivery and even transport applications become commonplace;
  • Driverless cars will finally arrive: true automated features will appear in mid-range vehicles such as speed zone aware cruise control and automated highway driving, and remote driving will become possible in certain areas, and
  • AR headsets will see the light: the rise of smart eyewear will finally displace screens in the pocket.

Here’s to the next techade!

Tech of the decade: how the 2010s changed sport and entertainment

Tech and Innovation Entertainment

Posted on December 24, 2019

4 min read

The 2010s haven’t just changed the way we talk. They’ve changed what we talk about. Everyone now has a show; a channel; a niche that’s specifically catered to thanks to an explosion in content.

This piece is part one of a three-part series on how technology shaped the last decade of our lives. You can read more about the tech of the decade here.

In 2010, Netflix – then a DVD postal business – was already the last word in streaming, with nine million users streaming content over the ‘net, and it’s only grown since then. And as 4G enabled video streaming to smartphones on the go, the reach became pervasive. The 2018 Internet Phenomena Report from Sandvine showed that Netflix consumed 15% of the global internet bandwidth sending HD content around the world.

Of course, Netflix isn’t the only streaming service standing as we flip the calendar over to 2020. It’s now joined by more macro- and micro-services than we can count. Research from the Swinburne University of Technology found that Aussie consumers have seven major heavyweight streaming services to contend with. Telsyte meanwhile found that 43% of Australian households currently have at least one streaming service in the home.

Streaming moved from the movie and TV industry onto music with its disruptive effects changing the way artists release music for their fans. Mixtapes now reign supreme as so-called “album-artists” are left grappling with a medium not suited to their style of release. Curiously, the 2010s brought with it the rise of streaming, the death of the compact disc and the resurgence of vinyl as one of the primary consumption methods for music, going to show that the classics never really die.

Sports have also been affected by the scale of change brought forth by the 2010s. When we gazed forward at the miraculous 2020s way back at the start of the decade, we imagined a future of entertainment that was very different to what eventually materialised.

In 2010, for example, we heralded the arrival of the 3D HD television. With several pairs of proprietary glasses bundled with every set, sports fans crowded around to watch sports broadcasts leap out of the TV and into the living room. Literally.

Sports broadcasters in Australia and around the world experimented with 3D broadcasts, with golf; ice hockey, and even extreme sports. Australian broadcasters sent the State of Origin 3D in 2010, as well as the FIFA World Cup with promises of additional content to follow.

But as 3D TV sales flagged, viewership fell and the cost of licensing additional channel spectrum added up, the eye-popping experiment was abandoned in favour of the content wars. Sports channels are now carved up and offered to users on a subscription basis so that viewers can get the best of exactly what they want.

Offerings like Kayo and even our Live Pass channels mean that fans can get closer to the action than ever before with high-resolution streams dripping with data at a much lower cost. And thanks to the proliferation of fast 4G and even 5G networks from Telstra, you can see your favourite team in more places than ever.

Innovations in technology such as the commoditisation of the smartphone and the dramatic reduction the cost of sensor gear means that sport is more high-tech than ever. Cricket now comes with cameras and sensors that map every angle of a ground; soccer comes with goal-line technology for pinpoint accurate scoring; the NFL comes with an array of gadgets designed to improve the flow of play.

The future of sport is looking bright thanks to our 5G network, too. We’re currently developing a VR sports experience that can transport multiple users (able to interact with each other) inside a live sports event. Live entertainment experiences can also benefit from 5G thanks to real-time augmented reality services for fans. Imagine an AFL game where the crowd can track their favourite athletes and get the stats and trivia that sports fans thrive on, live through a mixed reality experience.

Tech of the decade: looking forward, looking back

Tech and Innovation

Posted on December 24, 2019

9 min read

We’ve come a long way in 10 years. We’ve seen networks come and others go, celebrating our connectivity milestones along the way. Here’s our highlight reel from our decade in tech.

This piece is part one of a three-part series on how technology shaped the last decade of our lives. You can read more about the tech of the decade here.

Data hungry

At the beginning of the decade, we couldn’t predict the explosive demand for data, and how we’d always be able to keep up with new and incredible technologies. But in the first 12 months of our 4G network, we connected a massive 500,000 devices, and were more than up to the task of servicing them with all the data they needed!

When we launched our AMPS (or 1G) network in April 1987 it took until late 1992 before we reached the half a million customer milestone. When we launched our GSM (or 2G) network in 1993 it took us two years to reach the 100,000 customer milestone – so the pace has certainly picked up!

This year we wanted to make life even easier for our data-hungry customers, by eliminating excess data charges on all of our new plans. It’s a bright future for mobile data in the years to come!

Need for speed

We’re currently celebrating the incredible speeds we’re getting on the first consumer 5G devices to land in Australia, but the journey to such raw power came in leaps and bounds over the last decade.

In 2010, it was common for Australians to be connected to a theoretical maximum speed of 1.5Mbps on their home internet connections, with little to no need for big data caps on the go unless they were serious business users.

But as we released our billion-dollar NextG network, we realised that this was all about to change. The convergent smartphones of the early 2010s meant that more could be done on the go, and we knew we had the network for the job.

In 2015, we crossed an incredible milestone that still feels shocking to read: we crossed 1Gbps of theoretical maximum speed over 4G, pushing the limits of LTE further than ever before. We successfully tested 1Gbps speed capability by aggregating together 100MHz of Telstra’s spectrum holdings across five separate 4G channels integrated on our commercial end to end network.

The changing face of usage

In 2007, if you told someone you could beam high-definition, live sport from the other side of the world to a supercomputer in your pocket, they’d tell you to dream on. 10 years later, in 2017, the biggest spike on our network came from the Floyd Mayweather – Conor McGregor bout!

In 2017 Australians used around 40 per cent more data on the Telstra mobile network than the previous year, with the day of the Mayweather-McGregor bout topping the list for data usage in a 24-hour period.

What we have seen is that data usage has been growing consistently and rapidly throughout the year.  All our top data days were in the second half of the year and the biggest data day in the first few months of the year is just an average day now.

And in 2019, the records kept tumbling. Gaming smash hit Fortnite redefined how people used our network this year. Read more about our big data spikes of the year here.

A wild, connected future: predictions for 2030

10 years ago, we had no idea that video would be the biggest driver of internet traffic. We didn’t know that connected devices would number in the billions. We didn’t know that we’d all be working from home. And we definitely didn’t know that we’d be five-minutes-to-midnight when it came to global climate change.

As we look forward into the next decade, we boldly predict where we’ll be 10 years from now.

Plugging In

While many futurists predict the literal rise of flying cars by 2030, the more significant change will be how the four-wheeled future is powered.

A number of countries have already announced plans to ban the purchase of new vehicles powered by internal combustion engines (ICEs) by the year 2030. Denmark, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, the Netherlands and Sweden will all ban the sale of new gasoline- or diesel-powered vehicles from 2030, while Barcelona, Brussels, Cape Town, Hainan, Heidelberg, London and Los Angeles have all announced similar plans. Other countries have announced de-ICEing plans including Costa Rica, France, Norway, Sri Lanka and the United Kingdom within the next two decades.

2019-20 was the year the electric car went from being a pipe dream to a reality, and already in 2020 we’re staring down the headlights of major manufacturers jumping on board to create more affordable models. Some of the largest manufacturers even want up to 40% of their sales to be made up by EVs by 2030.

No matter what the new cars of the future look like, it’s going to be an electrified ride.

The New Colony

Since we crawled out of the caves, we’ve been developing new ways to build our homes to shelter us from the elements. As the cost of labour and materials continues to rise throughout the 2020s, we’ll be harnessing new ways to construct environmentally sound homes by 2030. This means harnessing the power of robotics and 3D printing to quickly “print” homes in as little as 24 hours.

The world’s first community of 3D printed homes has been unveiled in Mexico this year which allows families to live in high-quality, low-cost housing faster than ever before. The printer that made the homes is 10 metres in length and extrudes a quick-dry concrete mixture. Currently it can’t work in adverse conditions, but as the technology improves and becomes more reliable over the next 10 years, it’s set to revolutionise everything from low-cost housing through to disaster relief efforts.

And as NASA and the European Space Agency prepare to launch a moon colony in the second-half of the coming decade, they’re looking to take 3D printed structures to an extraterrestrial level. Next stop, Mars?

Automation nation

Automation is the process of replacing human workers for advanced robotics in the global workforce. It’s something that has already put millions of humans out of work, and it’s not slowing down.

CEDA research shows that more than five million jobs – representing almost 40 per cent of the jobs that exist today – will likely be disrupted by technology in the next decade.

But it’s not all doom and gloom. Research from McKinsey and Company indicates that the number of jobs that the internet has disrupted and disappeared is lower than the number of jobs that the rise of the internet has created from new innovations and new industries. It’s around 2.6 jobs created for everyone that was rendered obsolete.

As new industries emerge throughout the 2020s, old industries will evolve and reengineer themselves to create a connected workforce of the future. Furthermore, we see a future whereby automated robots will work alongside human operators to create greater efficiencies in the workforce.

Research from PriceWaterhouseCoopers shows that the connected workforce of 2030 will look vastly different to the workforce of today thanks to technology. These changes will fundamentally reshape the way we engage with work and how we interact with our cities. Connectivity and environmental concerns will drive future workers to stay home rather than commute to an office. 5G will allow for near-instant communication, making high-resolution video chat more pervasive and useful than ever.

Employers may even implement rewards for workers who choose to work flexibly instead of commuting, as it falls in line with a broader organisational environmental policy.

Absolute connectivity

At the end of 2018, it was estimated that over seven billion devices were connected to the internet. When you think of the word “devices”, it’s easy to get caught up and think that we’re just talking about smartphones, tablets and laptops. The reality is, in fact, more pervasive than you think.

When we talk about devices, we’re talking about solar-powered sensors, automated terminals and even vending machines that can tell a company when it needs to be refilled. The machine-to-machine internet is alive and well already, and by 2030 it’s going to be absolutely everywhere.

Research predicts that by 2030, over 100 billion devices – including consumer smartphones, sensors and smart machines – will be hooked up to the modern internet.

Think of everything in your life right now, right down to the clothes you’re wearing. It’s more than likely that by 2030, there will be an internet-connected version on the shelves, waiting for you to use.

Think about a coat that was connected to the internet that could ventilate itself based on changing weather conditions, all the while playing your favourite music through bone-conduction audio in the collar. Think about how businesses will be able to streamline their workflow once every device on their network is reporting its status for effective workforce management. The possibilities are endless, and some haven’t even been discovered yet.

Thankfully, we’ll already have widespread 5G coverage by 2030 with more latency and capacity available on the network than ever before. We’ll also have a more mature dedicated Internet of Things network to compliment the leading one we already have.

The Sinkernet

On our current climate trajectories, the world will experience an ocean level rise of 15cm by 2030 – potentially higher if our behaviour gets worse. Technology built from the 1990s and into the 2010s was constructed on existing coastlines and often without thought to how it would be future-proofed against catastrophic climate shift.

We boast the largest undersea cable network in all of Asia, and we’re proud to maintain it into the future. Scientists warn, however, that land-based cable networks aren’t built to withstand the same kind of conditions as their underwater cohorts. If left unchecked, internet landing stations that connect oceanic cables into countries could be under threat due to climate change. And it’s not just connectivity that would be threatened. Research shows that facilities currently on dry land – including data centres, points of presence and other landing stations – run the risk of being underwater by 2030.

We’re already planning to make our network more resilient to climate threats, and calling on our leaders to heed the warnings from scientists about the potentially devastating impacts of climate change in the next 10 years.