AFL goes augmented reality with Live Pass
Entertainment | Tech and Innovation |

Heads up! Augmented Reality debuts in official AFL app in world first for sport

By Rebecca Haagsma September 3, 2020

While most of us can’t get to a game right now, we’ve been busy dreaming up ways technology can take you closer to the action, and with Augmented Reality, we believe that AFL fans and Australia can lay claim to deploying the technology in this way for the first time ever, globally.

In case you didn’t know, Augmented Reality – or AR for short – is an incredible way to mix virtual experiences into the real world. It’s very cool, immersive and powerful technology, and while some innovative applications of it so far have been the wildly successful Pokémon Go game, viewing animals from Google, or to place furniture around your home, through our partnership with the AFL we’ve enhanced what we hope is the first of many currently static features of the app using AR.

We know from the way our fans interact with the app, that outside of streaming the game, or checking the scores and ladder, the announcement of each team’s line-up of players each week – who is in, and who is out – generates the most interest.

With that in mind, we updated the AFL Live Official app to give users a totally immersive way to view and interact with each club’s line-up for the coming round, and it’s features like these that we think will get better with 5G.

By following the prompts in the app, users simply need to find a surface and activate AR. It’s completely interactive, so users can pinch in and out to zoom in on the players, and tap on them to see their stats projected onto the virtual big screen.

AFL goes augmented reality with Live Pass

Cool, but what’s next?

This is an exciting new frontier for the way we bring sporting content to our users. It builds on a long and proud history of blending sport and technology together to bring the game, and all the peripheral aspects of it, to fans in new and better ways.

Developments using AR like this join a bunch of features fans love in the app, notably every match streamed via the app and Live Pass; speed and distance analysis for each player via the Telstra Tracker; and the brilliant (if we do say so!) AFL Stats Pro, where fans can watch individual player highlights from any match to see every involvement of their favourite player.

Sport in Australia was among the first in the world to return to play safely, and it’s that pioneering and resilient spirit that our team has taken inspiration from to develop this feature.

With AR, we see a future where Telstra Tracker allows us to watch players in real-time as they run around the field during a game to make it an entirely new experience all over again. We hope to give users the ability to isolate a player, produce real-time position replays and give you professional-grade tools from the comfort of your lounge room. Your fantasy league won’t know what hit them.

These experiences show the power of 5G as it becomes more available to our users. We’re familiar with the overwhelming speed and bandwidth benefits that comes from 5G availability, but we’re going one step further, fusing it with our innovative spirit to make experiences that have been teased for years a reality.

Stay tuned as we continue to mix sport and technology to bring better and better experiences to all footy fans.

Business and Enterprise | Tech and Innovation |

Our journey to create ethical and inclusive Indigenous advertising

By Andy McFarlane August 18, 2020

When we decided to run an ad to promote our meaningful partnership with Indigital, our team made a commitment to make it a respectful process, creating work both Indigital and Telstra could be proud of. What they learned is that making an Indigenous ad ethically presented more challenges than you’d expect – and while understanding them could be uncomfortable, it could also be deeply rewarding.

Augmented reality Indigenous education with Indigital

Telstra Purple and Microsoft partnered in 2019 to support Indigital in spreading awareness of Australia’s Indigenous culture through the Indigital Mixed Reality platform.

Indigital is a start-up founded by Cabrogal Woman, Mikaela Jade from the Dharug-speaking Nations of Sydney in 2014. The Indigital app we partnered with Mikaela Jade on is dedicated to conserving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture by creating culturally-led digital skills and language learning programs for students.

With many aspects of Indigenous culture and history including language at risk of loss, there is a responsibility to protect this heritage for future generations.

Telstra Purple and Microsoft worked with Indigital to re-platform the Indigital Mixed Reality application to make it more broadly applicable for Indigenous students (K-12) across Australia.

Together, we worked with Indigital to re-platform the Indigital App to modern augmented reality (AR) infrastructure technology, being cross-platform (Windows, iOS/Android), using Azure-based content workflow process along with AI services for data identification (image classification and identification) and in the AR detection to recognise the image of a student’s hand (so the animal or object can be rendered there).

Indigital is one plank of a wider platform of work we do to partner with and support Indigenous Australia. From our annual NATSIAA awards through to IDX and more, we’re long-time supporters of the Indigenous community.

Indigital is an important initiative, and one you can hear Mikaela Jade talk about in an interview with Adam Spencer for our Behind the Mic podcast series.

Advertising ethically

To get the message out about Indigital’s app, the team wanted to produce a print ad featuring Indigenous voices.

But producing a respectful piece of advertising for this initiative was immediately challenging due to underrepresentation and the industry’s misunderstanding of how to collaborate ethically with the Indigenous community.

We were challenged right out of the gate and immediately needed to think differently about how to produce the content.

When we looked to use stock imagery for the ad, we realised there were no guarantees that the work had been produced ethically. There was no guarantee that the talent in the photographs had been paid for their appearance, or that the images were captured by an Indigenous photographer.

Stock imagery also meant we couldn’t guarantee that the sites captured were done so with the permission of local Indigenous groups. And ultimately, much of the “Indigenous”-themed stock imagery available played on degrading stereotypes.

We needed to source other imagery, but this presented more challenges. Producing a tokenistic piece of iconography to promote the app – such as a “traditional” Indigenous dot painting, for example – would have been deeply offensive. These paintings go far beyond mere visual appeal, bearing deep meaning and often serving to convey stories and messages. Only certain artists are able to produce dot paintings, The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and Indigenous Cultural and Intellectual Property Laws prevent others from doing so.

Instead, we sought to be as ethical as possible, and engage an Indigenous photographer to produce new imagery, while ensuring that the ad would be produced with respect to the requirements of Indigenous culture. Ultimately, we were unable to find an Indigenous photographer, as none are represented inside the existing advertising system.

Even seeking to pay Indigenous creators for their time and works presented cultural challenges, as many Aboriginal businesses are set up not purely for profit, but to benefit the community around them. We approached this project accordingly, looking to represent the Indigenous community responsibly and respectfully for the benefit of the community.

Indigital Ad

Download our ad.

Producing this content challenged us to think differently about how to engage ethically with Indigenous communities. By producing the ad in the same-old way would have disrespectfully run roughshod over tens of thousands of years of culture.

We urge all of our industry colleagues to join us in thinking differently about producing this sort of content in the future to ensure that Australia’s First Nations people are accorded the treatment and respect they deserve.

Working with Telstra on the advertising campaign was a fantastic experience for the Indigital team. We were able to learn about the process involved in national advertising campaigns, and felt very supported by the Telstra marketing team in providing advice and suggestions to provide authenticity to the campaign. It was a learning experience for both companies and a collegiate approach that I would encourage other organisations to achieve. 

– Mikaela Jade, Founder & CEO of Indigital

The future of gaming at CES 2020
Devices | Entertainment | Tech and Innovation |

Games of the future at CES 2020

By Luke Hopewell February 3, 2020

The game has changed. This year’s CES showed off new form factors and wild new ways to play. Here are the three trends we saw and loved.

Games on your face

The next frontier of gaming isn’t so much native 4K or even 8K support. The game is now much bigger, more mobile and more immersive.

A number of manufacturers at this year’s CES shunned occlusive and bulky VR headsets and instead showed off gaming via Augmented Reality glasses.

Panasonic, for example, showed off a pair of steampunk glasses, while a company called Nreal showed off AR glasses that plug into your phone for gaming support.

We can’t wait to see if this takes off in 2020!

PC gaming goes more portable

Nintendo’s Switch revolutionised mobile gaming with a nifty handheld that also becomes a fully-fledged console for your TV. Now that the console has experienced incredible success, other manufacturers want to get in on the portable form factor, specifically for PC gaming.

Alienware showed off an incredible concept at CES called the UFO: a handheld gaming PC with an 8-inch screen and detachable controllers for fully-portable mobile gaming.

It’s not going into production just yet, but Alienware says that its designers have already invested thousands of hours making handheld PC gaming feel just right, and we think they’re onto something!

If you still want your gaming to feature a keyboard and mouse, your experience is set to get way more portable in the future.

Gaming rigs typically pack in an incredible discrete graphics card (or GPU), but all this graphic performance sacrifices portability. If you’re looking for a laptop that can do what a desktop gaming rig does but still can slip inside a backpack, you’ll love the new Lenovo Legion external GPU.

An eGPU outsources the job of intensive graphics processing to an external box that plugs into your laptop when you want to game. This way you can have a thin and light laptop during the day while still having a fast gaming computer when you need it!

Having it all

Of course, you don’t always have to choose your platform. What if you wanted PC gaming and console gaming in the one box? With Origin’s Big O machine, the dream is a reality.

Originally outed as a concept last year, Origin is now flogging its incredible custom gaming PC that crams a console of your choosing into the one impressive gaming box that sits on your desktop. That makes it the perfect gaming PC – if we can even call it that now – to sit alongside the TV in your lounge room.

Unfortunately, you do have to make a choice between having an Xbox or PlayStation version in the same machine, as the two still don’t get along under the same roof. But with the monstrous machine starting at $2499, you can probably still afford to pick up another for cheap.

Maybe even with our Xbox All Access deal?

Telstra Purple
Business and Enterprise | Small Business | Telstra Vantage™ |

Meet the new enterprise: better together with Telstra Purple

By Michael Ebeid AM September 4, 2019

Telstra Purple

Over the last six and a half years we’ve been growing our capabilities and strengths with eight acquisitions. Today, we are bringing these acquisitions together to form Telstra Purple.

What is Telstra Purple?

Customers are increasingly looking to us to help transform their businesses, technology and operational processes, building on the connectivity backbone we are well known for both here in Australia and internationally.

That’s why Purple brings together the combined might of a number of Telstra Enterprise’s recent acquisitions and our existing technology services arms into one unified organisation.

We’re combining VMTech, MSC, Readify, Kloud, Bridgepoint, O2, NSC, and Company85 to deliver new and innovative technology to businesses in Australia, the region and the world.

Telstra Purple includes capabilities such as network, data centre, security, cloud, augmented reality, workplace & mobility, data and analytics and design services and brings together more than 1500 people working on over 8000 projects per year around the world.

Through Telstra Purple, we will be able to provide more services and solutions than ever. We’re operating in Australia, Singapore, Hong Kong and the UK to deliver our services to every corner of the globe.

Some of the customers we’re working on include a network solution for QANTAS; an augmented reality initiative to support Indigenous culture with Indigital; IoT solutions for Kennards; network automation and security for a major bank, and mixed reality projects designed to increase student engagement levels at the University of Queensland.

Why Purple?

Our ambition is to build a connected future that allows everyone to thrive, because we believe it is people who give purpose to our technology.

Through Telstra Purple, we want to better address the needs of our customers by bringing our numerous acquisitions and technology services capabilities together under the one banner, while still maintaining the unique spirit and culture of each.

We’re not about to unpick what has made each of them so successful in the past just so we can integrate them into the Telstra brand. It’s these differences that make each of our acquired entities so powerful. Building on their differences and strengths allows us to move forward as one agile team.

We’re better together, and we’re excited for our customers to see us in action.

Message sticks meet mixed reality with Indigital, Telstra Purple and Microsoft

Telstra Purple and Microsoft recently partnered to support Indigital to preserve the Indigenous culture of Australia through the Indigital Mixed Reality platform.

Indigital is a start-up dedicated to preserving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture by creating culturally-led digital skills and language learning programs for students.

2019 is the year of Indigenous languages and with many aspects of Indigenous culture and history including language at risk of loss there is a responsibility to preserve and protect this heritage for future generations.

Telstra Purple and Microsoft worked with Indigital to re-platform the Indigital Mixed Reality application to make it more broadly applicable for Indigenous students (K-12) across Australia.

Together, we worked with Indigital to re-platform the Indigital App to modern augmented reality (AR) infrastructure technology, being cross platform, using Azure-based content workflow process along with AI services for data identification (image classification and identification) and in the AR detection to recognise the image of a student’s hand (so the animal or object can be rendered there).

This platform has been automated through custom APIs – when students upload Paint3D, Minecraft: Education Edition and Powerpoint creations, the content is transformed into Mixed Reality.

The platform was launched on 2019’s International Day of the World’s Indigenous People at the UN in New York with a special Mixed Reality message from two Aunties of the Darug people from the Darug Nation.

Using a traditional message stick as the Mixed Reality experience trigger, the Aunties were recreated in 3D by Indigenous Virtual Reality Artist Brett Leavy and then AI-enabled so the public could ask them questions about their culture. Message sticks have played an important part in communication between Indigenous groups across Australia for thousands of years.

Mikeala and Tatham Oddie attended the UN event in New York and showcased the new Indigital Mixed Reality platform and spoke about the need to use technology to preserve language and culture.