5G |

5G is giving cyclists the ability to see around corners

By Gianpaolo Carraro June 7, 2021

Every single year, around 40 cyclists die on Australian roads. And with more cyclists on the roads than ever, there’s a risk that number could rise as people take to the pedals for potentially the first time.

COVID fundamentally changed the way we get around. Cars now share the road with more delivery riders, commuters and bike clubs than ever before.

In Melbourne alone, it’s estimated that the popularity of riding soared by 270% following the onset of the pandemic. But as the number of cyclists increased, so do the troubling statistics.

Because most road infrastructure is still intended for cars, cyclists can often be put in harm’s way. In the months between September and November 2020, one food delivery rider was killed every 11 days in Australia.

But it doesn’t need to be this way.

We’ve been working to connect Australia’s roads to cars for some time. We’ve got partnerships in the “Vehicle-to-Everything” (or V2X) space dating back years, but when we saw the problem of cyclist safety take the spotlight, we knew we could do more.

5G isn’t exclusively limited to smartphones, tablets and laptops. With the right tech, we can use it to keep riders safe, too by building a connected bike helmet full of safety gear.

Together with our friends at Australian cycling start-up, Arenberg, we’ve created a connected bike helmet prototype that is 5G-enabled for our most vulnerable road users.

The helmet prototype features a 5G connection, which passes video, GPS and other data up to a data processing and analytics cloud, and our V2X program which gathers data from connected cars on the roads.

Our 5G network – which now covers two-thirds of Aussie population can carry huge amounts of data at incredible speeds, making near real-time communication for vehicle safety possible.

The bike helmet prototype gathers a range of data, and meshes it together with data gleaned from connected cars around the rider, and connected infrastructure and road cameras around the city.

This information is then fed to a rider through a speaker in the helmet to provide real-time safety information, alerts and warnings.

It’s more than just giving cyclists eyes in the back of their head: it’s giving them the ability to see around corners where traffic is at a standstill, and even helps them predict the future.

One of the greatest concerns any rider has is being “doored”: where a driver or passenger opens their car door into a bike lane, causing a full-speed collision with a cyclist if not careful. Car doors swinging open can force a rider out of their lane and into the path of another vehicle, where they might not be so lucky.

When a driver or passenger opens their door, real-time video from the bike helmet is sent over 5G and analysed in a cloud platform, where the opening car door hazard is identified. The platform then pushes down an audio alert to the rider to react it time, thanks to the super low-latency connectivity offered by our 5G network.

One life lost on the roads is one life too many. As more and more people take to alternative means of transportation to tackle city congestion, climate change and general fitness, we have to use every piece of technology we can to keep them safe for the future.

Telstra News |

Our top 6 predictions for the major tech trends of 2021

By Andrew Scott January 12, 2021

The start of the decade has been challenging for many reasons, and we saw how technology played a vital part in helping us get through it. We’re already looking ahead to what advances in technology may bring in 2021.

Over 11 million Australian households and businesses now have access to the nbn network, all major smartphone brands now offer 5G handsets, and AlphaBeta reports that videoconferencing is now used by more than 60% of Australian businesses.[1]

With fast connectivity and devices in more places than ever, new services and product innovation will thrive in this decade, and we have picked some of the next technology areas that will come to the fore in 2021 that Aussies can look forward to. I know I am.

Faster and better Wi-Fi in the home

It became clear this year how critical a strong home Wi-Fi signal was for remote working, learning and video streaming.

The next generation of Wi-Fi technology will help with coverage, speeds and consistency of performance. Wi-Fi 6 has already appeared in premium devices and in 2021 we will see this technology in more mainstream devices. Many Wi-Fi 6 devices will also support Wi-Fi EasyMesh which repeats the Wi-Fi signal to boost coverage further around the home.

Together, we expect many people to update their home Wi-Fi setup next year, either through purchasing Wi-Fi Boosters to extend their coverage or at a minimum, understanding how slow Wi-Fi signal strength affects their video streaming or gaming experience.

High-end gaming

The COVID-19 pandemic fundamentally changed the landscape of home entertainment. With the dramatic impacts to live sports, cinemas, and music events, Aussies are used to spending more time getting entertained at home, digitally.

Coupled with the introduction of powerful, next-generation games consoles from the likes of Microsoft with the Xbox Series X, there is a lot of demand being generated for rich, immersive games.

Whether you purely watch gaming streams on Twitch or YouTube, or actively play games, 2021 will be an exciting year. Cloud gaming is one of the hottest gaming trends and Microsoft has already launched its xCloud service in beta locally. We look forward to seeing this trend grow further from customer interest and other vendors in this space. One thing is for certain though, cloud gaming shows the value of having fast and reliable home and mobile networks. And as 5G continues to roll out further, this will allow Aussies to have high end gaming experiences in many more places outside of their home.

5G mmWave

Telstra 5G is already available in selected areas and is planned to grow further to 75% of Australia’s population by end of June this year[2]. But there’s another exciting 5G development happening this year: the first set of new high frequency, or “mmWave”[3] spectrum. 5G can provide incredible performance[4] over short range, so it won’t be available everywhere in the way you normally expect to find mobile coverage. It will have the most use in busy places, like inner city streets or sports stadiums.

New mmWave devices are expected to arrive this year, adding to the Telstra 5G WiFi Pro[5] we’ve already launched. There’s going to be some great examples of companies and brands leveraging the benefits of 5G mmWave which include ultra-low latency, high capacity, and very fast speeds. The other exciting thing is 5G mmWave is coming at the same time as the maturation of AI, IoT, automation, and cloud/edge technologies to create some amazing scenarios.

Social distancing goes digital

As we enter a new phase of the pandemic on the precipice of a vaccine, we all need to keep in mind that social distancing is still on until further notice. But with millions of people moving in and out of public spaces like offices, train stations and shopping malls every day, it’s impossible for COVID-safe hall monitors to keep track of everyone.

As we move back into offices we can expect to see a series of new technologies deployed around us to ensure COVID-safe guidelines are being followed.

With cameras and sensor technology evolving, you can expect the public and private sector to embrace low-impact connected technologies to monitor social distancing and even contact tracing.

We’re already working to forecast passenger numbers on trains, and using thermal cameras to detect people with fevers moving in and out of public spaces. All this information can not only serve to locate a potentially-infected person, but also work to give us all confidence we’re entering spaces that are appropriately distanced and COVID-safe.

Head-up displays (HUDs)

The original promise of Google Glass is starting to come good, but only in a range of specialist environments as this display tech has continued to mature, e.g. motorcycle helmets, vehicle windscreens, ski goggles, and smart hard hats helmets.

The use of these HUDs enables users get relevant data on their task or environment without having to interrupt the activity that they are doing. High-end augmented reality (AR) headsets have been bulky, but the technology is rapidly shrinking in size to fit into “user friendly” wearable form factors (like sunglasses and normal eyeglasses).

In the next 1-2 years, we will see more HUDs incorporated into vehicles and wearables for industrial and sporting use. Within the consumer market, industry websites report rumours that many major brands will bring smart glasses to market in a similar timeframe. Time will tell if that is true, but we are sure to see more products with smart heads up displays in the months and years ahead.

ARM-based laptops

When new laptops come out, the improvement emphasis is usually on either higher processing power or longer battery life – not both. With Apple launching its new MacBook sporting the company’s new in-house developed M1 chip, that equation has been broken.

Based on ARM-architecture, the M1-based laptops have improved dramatically in both performance and battery life. This also breaks the perception that ARM chips mean trading off performance on laptops.

As applications begin supporting the M1 chip, users will experience the benefits the new chip can bring. Throw in the mix the fact that Nvidia is acquiring ARM and we can expect to see high-end, GPU-enhanced ARM devices in the not-too-distant future – having already won the mobile chips, ARM architecture is now well and truly challenging x86 on the laptop side with more to follow.

[1] https://alphabeta.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/200922_australias-digital-resilience_report.pdf

[2] Australia’s best 5G now in more places (telstra.com.au)

[3] mmWave 5G: what you need to know (telstra.com.au)

[4] We’ve smashed another speed record with mmWave 5G (telstra.com.au)

[5] Telstra 5G Wi-Fi

Telstra News |

We’re evolving how we think about innovation

By Kim Krogh Andersen October 9, 2020

This year has been one of the biggest in technology and digitisation adoption for Australians and businesses, Telstra included. In a period of six months, we have seen the global response to COVID-19 accelerating change that otherwise would have taken years. Our response to these challenges, and both the risks and opportunities they bring, has driven a change in how we approach innovation.

While we have always been at the forefront of telecommunications innovation in Australia, we are seeing an increased need for a coordinated response from network operators, wider industry, academia, government and other technology partners to truly deliver the best products and services that Australians want.

We are investing heavily into 5G. 5G delivers an exponential leap in network speed and capacity in a period where the demand for data and a frictionless customer experience is exploding. The true power of 5G however is that it is arriving at the same time a number of other transformative technologies are maturing. They include IoT, cloud and edge computing, AI, SD-WAN, cyber security and many others. These technologies have far reaching implications for every industry. In many ways, we are entering the fourth industrial revolution as we enter the new decade.

This creates opportunities for businesses and governments to fundamentally transform their business systems and processes. These opportunities cover everything from monitoring logistics and supply chains, land and water use management, object recognition and video analytics, autonomous vehicles and drones, and enhanced medical and cancer research.

The potential applications of these technologies are too numerous to list, and too large for one organisation to develop on its own. Our innovation focus is on how we put these transformative technologies into the hands of the smartest people across different industries, provide them access to the resources they need to learn about them, and create the best environment in which to build and test their vision.

We have started this transformation journey already. We have had a long history in driving and investing in several incubation initiatives including Telstra Labs and muru-D. Here, we’ve developed industry-leading technologies like the Telstra Data Hub, Cellular Vehicle to Anything (C-V2X), Low Altitude Airspace Management (LAAM), etc. We have also helped startup founders take their early ventures and helped them grow across a range of industries.

This year, we developed a Telstra-wide Innovation Strategy that reflects our ambitions in the current economic climate and helps drive innovation fostering external partnerships. We also know we can’t do this alone, so we will continue to partner with technology leaders, industry bodies, educational institutes – to further educate our staff and also to help create a healthy talent pipeline – and work very closely with our enterprise customers and all levels of Government.

I have highlighted some of the transformation and change we are driving this year with many more exciting announcements to come.

Emerging technology at Telstra Labs

Telstra Labs’ goal is to explore and validate emerging deep technologies that have the potential to radically transform our economy and society; 5G, AI, IoT, xR, smart cities, autonomous machines, and wireless power are some of the things we are looking at. Recently, we have partnered with the Queensland Department of Transport and Main Roads to deliver the next stage of the Ipswich Connected Vehicle Pilot program that will see 500 vehicles being retrofitted with C-V2X to enable communication with the road network infrastructure systems, in order to alert the driver to potentially hazardous situations.

We also continue to advance drone technology. Our Low Altitude Aviation Management (LAAM) program trials have continued into 2020 and are testing technology to enable both manned and unmanned aircraft to fly in low altitude airspace by providing a system that manages the registration, identification, mission planning, mission approvals and declaration of location of recreational drones and commercial UAVs.

Commercialising technology innovation

Our most recently commercialised incubated product is the Telstra Data Hub, developed in partnership with Microsoft. It is designed to facilitate complex data sharing and permission scenarios, while alleviating the need to create multiple, bespoke point-to-point integrations required between systems. In less than a year, the product evolved from a project incubated inside Telstra Labs into an enterprise offering solving the specialised data needs of government and industry decision makers. Some of the projects underway include optimising rural water management with the Queensland government, developing digital farming solutions with Charles Sturt University, and Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute where we are collaborating on a data sharing and analytics ecosystem focused on understanding sudden cardiac death in young people.

muru-D

muru-D, our vehicle for engagement with the start-up ecosystem is also changing. Launched in 2013 and backed by Telstra, muru-D became one of the first and largest startup accelerators in Australia. The mission of muru-D was to support emerging entrepreneurial talent and businesses in Australia and Asia-Pacific, while helping provide pathways to success.

The local ecosystem has now greatly changed and there are now many start-up accelerators from venture capitalists, global accelerators, university and government partnerships to help early stage companies develop their initial product.

As part of Telstra’s annual innovation strategy review the decision was made this year to evolve muru-D and its structure and goals, to refocus on the current innovation environment.

We will use muru-D to provide start-ups with access to our core technologies and work selectively with more mature start-ups on partnerships with Telstra as either a supplier to us or as a go-to-market partner, including consuming and building new ecosystems around our network APIs.

Moving forward, muru-D will become Telstra’s vehicle for partnering with start-up accelerators, universities and other participants in the Australian start-up ecosystem. We will use muru-D to provide start-ups with access to our core technologies and work selectively with more mature start-ups on partnerships with Telstra as either a supplier to us or as a go-to-market partner, including consuming and building new ecosystems around our network APIs. muru-D will no longer be taking applications for future accelerator programs. And to support managing the existing muru-D portfolio, we have engaged international firm Pinsent Masons to take over the day-to-day administration of our portfolio investments.

We now want to help scale the next innovation opportunity by working closely with the current ecosystem as well as our strategic partners and universities. We are very proud to see what muru-D has become, the network of founders and mentors we’ve had the privilege to work with, its successes along the way, and where we can take the initiative moving forward.

Melbourne Connect

We’re committed to playing our part in building a pipeline of technology talent in Australia. So, we’re partnering with a number of universities to equip graduates with the skills and adaptability they need to succeed in our rapidly changing global environment. Our latest partnership is a $5M investment in the Telstra Creator Space (fabrication lab) at University of Melbourne’s new Melbourne Connect technology and innovation precinct and 10 scholarships in STEM that focus on diversity and inclusion. We have initiated a number of student technology projects focused on 5G, Network Enablers and Power Systems, and we have built a joint pipeline of future R&D projects for 2021.

We have also begun a student placement program, with two female technologists receiving the Telstra Technology and Innovation Masters Scholarships for 2020 and joining Telstra in the summer on Network Engineering and Cybersecurity Internships.

Microsoft Strategic Alliance

Recently, we extended our long-standing partnership with Microsoft to:

  • harness IoT, Edge, AI and digital twin capability to develop important new industry solutions in areas such as asset tracking, supply chain management, telematics and smart spaces;
  • leverage Azure as preferred cloud for Telstra’s ongoing internal digital transformation;
  • explore and pursue technology and data-driven solutions to advance our sustainability and climate commitments; and
  • build ground-breaking, nationally important solutions that leverage the Telstra Data Hub.

Our combined goal is to deliver more innovative products for Australians that will increase customer experience and engagement, solve business challenges, and drive a new level of technology leadership. It is a great opportunity to drive further digital innovation to strengthen the Australian economy, and to build a sustainable, connected future so everyone can thrive

We anticipate that our relationships and engagements with our partners in government, industry and academia will continue to expand in scope as well as investment. Our ambition is to make Telstra a more open organisation, where the smartest minds can work with us to bring new technologies to life, in face-to-face and virtual environments, and even on a machine to machine basis.

The market is changing rapidly and we will continue to evolve to meet the demands of a changing environment. As Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau highlighted at the 2018 World Economic Forum, “The pace of change has never been this fast, yet it will never be this slow again.”