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Tag: trends

Virtual reality: the future of content

Tech and Innovation

Posted on January 18, 2018

4 min read

The blend between our virtual existence and the physical world has become a normal part of our lives. We are living life through a screen already, so the jump into virtual reality (VR) is not as large a leap as one would expect.

With all of the big tech players pushing hard in the VR race, it’s only a matter of years until we see people sitting next to us on the train with their headsets on. Technology is moving at such a rapid pace in the VR industry, product releases are coming thick and fast, and everyone is trying to be the first past the post to bring a full VR experience into a simple, comfortable, standalone device.

The future of VR

The future of the headset will be one where augmented reality (AR) is the minimum and one can transition into VR or “full immersion” with ease. Microsoft has termed this mixed reality (MR), and with the advent of inside-out tracking has lead the way in making standalone headsets that enable not only looking around the virtual world, but also walking around too.

The ‘full’ VR experience will continue to expand with the release of haptic clothing and gloves, allowing for virtual touch to be included into the development of the VR experience. As VR developers start to utilise these haptic touch devices, the beauty of MR will come into its own and the physical-virtual blend will be truly immersive.

The reason why VR development is moving at such a rapid pace is because of the synergy between hardware and software development. All of the large players are releasing their own platforms to view VR content – and as it stands now, the pathway to content is quite sporadic and device-dependent. This will likely change, with the first company to create a great customer experience at all touch points going a long way to being the ‘Netflix of VR’.

But this will most likely have a shelf life as technology advances, and smart device manufacturers start to adapt their offerings into the MR space. One thing that won’t change is the need for a super-fast network to deliver the content and experience – however it is offered.

Taking VR into the mainstream

Virtual Reality at CES 2018

As VR becomes more mainstream, it will move from the ‘gamer’ space via film-making, and eventually into advertising and public relations (PR). The marriage between VR and PR is quite a simple one, as it makes a lot more financial sense to create a PR activation that can then be taken into the virtual world and experienced by the masses.

No longer is a PR or advertising opportunity going to be bound by the laws of physics or geography; in the near future, utilising AR, ads will be able to be generated into each of our mixed reality experiences for both our entertainment and the company’s ROI.

“Surfing” the web will move from being a nice analogy into reality, with companies like Web VR already playing with the idea of virtual websites. VR for websites has always been what we’ve imagined the best user experience on the Internet to be, and this will enable mass adoption of VR – bringing with it new rules for UX design and web design alike.

The virtual desktop will enable people to work in even tighter spaces, with an unlimited number of screens and at a larger scale than ever before. Productivity will increase, and people will truly be able to immerse themselves in their work.

VR will invade many different industries from both a consumer and enterprise perspective regardless of history. There are already no limits to where someone can take their experience inside the virtual world – and as technology keeps advancing, the limits to how VR can interact with the physical world keep expanding.

There are a few questions that will arise as VR is widely adopted: will one company be able to truly “own” VR? How will ethics become a part of VR development practices? How will VR start to affect us as humans – as we start to interact more with the virtual world, is it inevitable that our physical interactions will decline?

360 video: Tech trends for 2018 that will change your everyday life

Tech and Innovation

Posted on December 12, 2017

1 min read

Hot off the technology presses at Telstra’s Chief Technology Office – meet the five trends that will change your everyday life next year, including everything from the mass adoption of voice assistance, to cheering on the newest category of athletes and the tech toys your kids actually want for Christmas.

If you prefer listening to our tech trends on the go, listen to our in-depth podcast on the 2018 tech trends here:

 

Tags: technology, trends,

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,

Digital inclusion: Understanding Australia’s digital divide

Sustainability

Posted on August 1, 2017

5 min read

The internet generates extraordinary social, cultural and economic benefits for Australians, but we know that these benefits are not equally shared. Almost three million Australians are not online, and many more are not able to take full advantage of online services. For those who are not connected, the consequences of exclusion are increasing as our essential educational, health, and social services move online.

The Australian Digital Inclusion Index provides our most complete picture yet of Australia’s digital divide. As a source of evidence and a guide for action, the Index shows us where digital inclusion is improving and where more needs to be done. The Index breaks digital inclusion down into three critical dimensions: access to data and internet services; affordability; and digital ability — the skills and capacities of users.

The latest 2017 data from the Index shows that across all these dimensions, digital inclusion is increasing in Australia. That is good news. But the Index results also show how the level of digital inclusion among Australians varies greatly. Across regions, and across our social and economic geography, there are groups of Australians who are substantially less connected than others. And in many cases, digital exclusion is linked closely to social exclusion and disadvantage. For some Australians — those who are older, and those on lower incomes — the gaps between them and others are increasing.

In our 2017 report on the Index we take a closer look at some groups of Australians who are less connected than others. This includes Indigenous Australians, for whom the gap has narrowed over the last three years, and Australians with a disability, who still have relatively low digital inclusion. We also looked more closely at  mobile only internet users, who have no fixed internet access. Of course, smart phones offer great advantages for users, but there are limits to what people can do with mobiles. Despite all the benefits of mobile internet, levels of digital inclusion are much lower for mobile only users than for Australians overall, with mobile-only consumers linked closely to socio-economic factors such as lower levels of income and employment.

 

The Index shows how the digital inclusion challenge is evolving – affordability and digital ability are clearly as important as access. Our findings on affordability may surprise some readers. The Index shows that the value of internet services has improved across Australia, meaning that data-per-dollar has increased each year for consumers over the four years of the survey. It’s important to note that when we measure affordability we are not only looking at the cost of data, we are also interested in the proportion of household income dedicated to this service. So, although prices have declined, Australians are using more data, increasing their number of services, and therefore spending more on the internet.

The result reflects the degree to which the internet has become an integral part of everyday life - we are doing more online; we are doing an increasing range of things online; and, in many households, we are connecting with an increasing number of devices. For middle income and better-off Australians, this is unlikely to be a problem. But for lower income households, especially those on fixed incomes, affordability is an important issue, and one we should monitor carefully.

Digital ability is another key area for discussion with the release of the 2017 Index report. What is digital ability? It’s what people can actually do online, and therefore how they can benefit from being connected. When we look at digital ability, we are considering people’s sense of control and security; their basic skills in accessing information and managing transactions; and their capacity in more complex tasks.

Our report shows that digital ability varies considerably across the population, but is generally improving from a low base. However, it is improving slowly, reflecting the challenges for many Australians in keeping up with technology. We believe that digital ability is a critical area for support and attention because we know that, with assistance, this is a domain where strong improvements are possible. Valuable programs are already making a difference — Telstra’s Tech Savvy Seniors is an example.

The value of the Index lies in the assistance it can provide in targeting and shaping future work. It can help guide future policy and action by improving the evidence base and sharpening our focus. As technology drives further transformations in life and work, digital inclusion will become an increasingly important issue for all of us.

 

Digital inclusion and Telstra

We believe that everyone – regardless of age, income, ability or location – should enjoy the benefits of being connected to modern communications technology. Telstra has long been focused on addressing digital inclusion and our Everyone Connected programs aim to empower all Australians to enjoy the benefits that new communication technologies bring.

In FY17 we reached more than 63,000 people through our digital literacy programs, including Tech Savvy Seniors training sessions for older Australians and InDigiMob, which is establishing a network of Indigenous digital mentors in remote Northern Territory communities. Through our Access for Everyone program Telstra helps people on a low income or facing financial hardship to stay connected, last financial year, the benefit provided by our programs for vulnerable customers was $87.7 million. Out Telstra Kids Digital Futures has been rolling-out more than 40 digital projects for young people in regional areas right across Australia, to build the skills they need in the future.

Find out more how we’re working to address the digital divide and Telstra’s Everyone Connected programs at https://exchange.telstra.com.au/digital-inclusion/.

 

Download the Australia Digital Inclusion Index Report at digitalinclusionindex.org.au/report.

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.