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How regional teens are embracing technology for change at Telstra Vantage 2019

Telstra Vantage™

Posted on September 16, 2019

4 min read

At Telstra Vantage 2019, we invited high school students from regional Australia to take the stage and present their tech solutions to the real-world problems facing their communities.

Bringing together leaders from the technology industry, ‘Tomorrow’s leaders embracing technology for change’ at Telstra Vantage 2019 was designed to help attendees draw inspiration from young minds.

In collaboration with Telstra Foundation partner Young Change Agents, high school students showcased innovative ideas and helped Telstra Enterprise partners gain a fresh perspective on technology.

Young Change Agents is a design-thinking based social entrepreneurship program for 10 to 18-year-olds that provides students with the tools to think creatively, build skills in critical thinking and communication, and empowers them to become entrepreneurs, leaders and world-changers.

Over three days, the four teams of students completed a design thinking process with Young Change Agents to identify real-world issues facing their community. They ideated potential solutions, developed a business model, and then validated, prototyped and pitched their ideas to our panel of judges – Mike Ebeid, Telstra Enterprise Group Executive, Jackie Coates, Head of Telstra Foundation, Kate Stewart, Telstra Head of Education Partnerships, and Sally Capp, Lord Mayor of Melbourne.

The students pitched some inspiring innovation ideas:

Farm Watch: health tracking data for farm animals

Narromine High School, Narromine (West of Dubbo)

This team’s idea comes from using existing tracking systems (wearable tech bands for livestock) to an app that extracts research from data sets collected from the tracking systems. The data collected can be sold or donated to science or research and help educate schools and the public.

Mike Ebeid said, “This idea certainly speaks to everything that we do here at Telstra. Keeping a track of livestock is really important for farmers and helping to solve that is great because most farmers I know care a lot about their animals. It will also help people to see and appreciate the work of farmers. It’s a really good idea.”

Link Lamp: connecting people through light to relieve loneliness

Keira High School, Wollongong

How might we make people who are lonely feel more connected to others? This team came up with smart connected lamps that are paired so when one person touches their lamp, it sends a signal to the other one resulting in light appearing. This shows that the other person is thinking of them and they are not alone.

Sally Capp said, “This idea pulled at my heartstrings.  I’ve got a son in the United States at the moment and I think if I had this lamp (and I would love one), I would’ve been pushing that button every moment of today so that he knows I’m thinking of him.

There’s no doubt that even though we are more connected than ever, the mental health surveys tell us…that people are suffering from social isolation more than ever before. It’s just little ideas like this that can make such a big difference and a big impact.”

Travel on the Gravel: VR learning experiences for long bus rides to school

Trangie High School, Trangie (West of Dubbo)

Bus companies find that students get up to mischief on long bus rides. Students find bus travel boring and parents want their kids to productively use their time on long bus rides. If local buses have virtual reality headsets, bus trips could educate and entertain youth and allow the students to virtually experience situations they wouldn’t normally be exposed to.

Jackie Coates said, “No one knows the tyranny of distance more than a regional student who travels hours a day to and from school on the same long and winding road. 

I love how this idea uses virtual reality to solve a real problem and the students did some excellent work scoping their business plan and hustling a local bus company to run their prototype.”

Happy Patch Packs: veggie garden packs using sensors connected to an app

Trangie High School, Trangie (West of Dubbo)

How might we help local families grow fresh produce without using too much available water resources? This team wants to create a self-watering/data measuring fresh fruit and vegetable garden growing kit helping people in remote or drought-affected communities to gain access to fresh food.

Kate Stewart, “Hearing from the students how tough it is in regional communities when it comes to accessing fresh veggies and water and the costs for families, I think this idea is fantastic. I love how the team has incorporated a tech solution in what is a very sustainable and clever idea and how you’ve solved a local community challenge.”  

Thanks to the Young Change Agents team and the amazing high school students involved who helped us to deliver a great event at Telstra Vantage 2019.

Exploring the Future of Footy with Telstra 5G

Entertainment

Posted on August 29, 2019

7 min read

The Future of Footy on 5G

Ahead of this year’s footy finals season, we’ve been speaking to AFL players, clubs, and fans to see how they imagine our 5G technology changing the future of the game. Thousands of fans from all around the country came forward with their ideas – everything from artificial intelligence for umpires to augmented reality goggles for players.

We already know that 5G is ushering in a new era of connectivity – it’s not just smartphones and tablets anymore, but thousands of ‘things’ using the latest technology to transmit data.

Here are 10 of the most popular and our own favourite suggestions that we’ve received.

1. Goal line tech

The most popular suggestion we received – by far – was 5G-enhanced goal line technology. You’ve dreamed up a variety of different approaches to fixing the drama of the goal line, from posts that light up if touched by the ball, goal posts using lasers and reflectors, or the application of ultra high definition, high-speed cameras for umpires to review. Debbleswat told us it would be “Hawkeye for footy – just like tennis”.

https://www.instagram.com/p/B1JAu8DlXH_/

Crazier still is the fact that we’ve already been testing this out. We recently teamed up with the Sydney Swans to test some high definition and high frame rate goal line cameras – at 16K resolution and 1000 frames per second, that’s a lot of data. A lot of this technology already exists, but 5G will allow us to get those images to the people who see them quicker than ever – and so minimise disruption to the game.

2. A broadcast revolution

More of the most popular suggestions centred around taking the sports broadcasting media experience to the next level – like multi-camera streams where fans at the games broadcast from their own phones, giving fans at home the same stadium experience. Jackbrophyy said, “Imagine having multiple cameras set up around the ground, and you can change camera angle from your tablet live”.

https://www.instagram.com/p/B1s5wEDHXLv/

This is definitely something that 5G could enable in the future. Samsung has already successfully demonstrated this technology earlier in the year, and we’ve run a similar test with the West Coast Eagles.

3. Snicko and hotspot

Another fan favourite, those cricket-inspired ‘snicko’ and hotspot technologies – which let referees examine video using thermal imaging to check for touches and touch behinds – could use 5G technology to give this feedback to umpires nearly instantly.

4. A 360-degree experience

Plenty of fans put forward their ideas for a 360-degree video experience, designed to replicate the in-your-seat stadium feeling, through virtual reality. There were also suggestions – a little more wild – to turn these 360-degree images into holograms for your kitchen table!

In reality, virtual reality and 360-degree video broadcasts both benefit hugely from the low latency of 5G – the ‘lag’ between an action happening and it being reproduced on video – as well as 5G’s high capacity for data-heavy broadcasts. While those holograms might still be a little way off, we recently created some training videos for Port Adelaide using virtual reality, so a new dimension of footy broadcasts is not that far-fetched.

5. A ‘smart Sherrin’

_a_bay suggested “chips/sensors in the ball so you can determine whether the boot was the last thing to make contact” – and they were not alone. There were several suggestions for a smart ball that could alert umpires to when it has gone out of play, could provide stats for fans – or could even give advice to players.

We already have smart refrigerators and smart bulbs, so surely a smart Sherrin can’t be far off. Part of what 5G enables is the ‘internet of things’ where thousands of devices are interconnected and communicating, so it’s easy to imagine a future of footy where even more data is produced.

6. Smart player tracking

_mister_b_910_ was among a number of fans who were suggesting sensors or biometric clothing that continually monitor players’ vital signs, fluid levels and general wellbeing. Saints.afl said, “I’d love to see sensors on the player’s main muscles to prevent injuries, and to help teams with knowing who can stay out there the longest…”

https://www.instagram.com/p/B1pPhZ8Hko-/

Tracking player data is something that we can do right now. Look up the Telstra Tracker online and you can see some of the data that players, clubs and fans already have access to. What 5G means is that those trackers will have the potential to communicate even more data in even more detail – and that can absolutely contribute towards the game’s already excellent approach to player welfare.

7. Camera in your footy

A very popular, if somewhat surprising, choice from our fan suggestions is a camera mounted inside the footy. Michael.smithy15 wanted a different perspective “live from the Sherrin!”, annie.ireland thought that a camera in the ball would help “determine if a free kick or a goal should be paid”, and tom-rendle wanted it “so every time it’s kicked, we have the opportunity to see it clunked by big Ben King.” We can’t argue with that!

Part of the appeal of 5G is its big jump in capacity, meaning more devices can be connected simultaneously and transmitting large quantities of data. And that means that along with all the other experiences we’ve imagined, a footy’s-eye view of the game would definitely be possible.

8. AI-powered umpires

Umpires made it to number eight on our list, with suggestions such as: “AI umpires” (nicholasalexanderfrancis), and virtual umpiring to be carried out by a team behind the scenes using an increased amount of camera angles (sam.raff) – a further development of the TV umpires we’re already used to in other sports.

Cgibbs even told us that “it would love to see the umpires as drones instead of people as people get in the way of the play, would be cool in ball-ups to see them swoop in, pick up the ball, and drop it into play so every ruck contest was fair.” (Cgibb)

9. Instant stats on your favourite players

It seems like there are a lot of fantasy football fans out there with ideas for the future because late on our list of top ten suggestions was one fan’s idea of instant stats appearing through our sporting apps, or a “stat bar floating at the top of their head” during the broadcast. (maxy_harris)

Well, Telstra Tracker already has the data – we just need to find an AR app to show it off. 5G will help with that, so… watch this space!

10. Player-coach communication

Rounding out our top ten, Max_Cowburn suggested that we make earpieces for the players, so coaches can get their messages across faster and clearer than a runner. He was not alone as ear-pieces, augmented reality goggles and contact lenses, as well as other player-worn, tech rounds out our most popular top ten.

https://www.instagram.com/p/B1Kh3XTg6wt/

The influence of technology on our sport has come a long way in the last ten years – from the way teams train to the way fans engage with the sport – and we are constantly looking to the future. So while you probably won’t see drone delivered pies at your ground next matchday, some of the future of footy ideas we’ve dreamed up together may not be all that far away.

These ideas for the future of footy are just a bit of fun for now, but there is a very real technological innovation that exists behind these ideas. 5G has the potential to revolutionise many aspects of our day-to-day lives, and footy is no exception.

We are already partnered with a host of different companies and organisations to look at how 5G can contribute to areas like player welfare, your own in-stadium experience as a fan, and all new broadcast techniques to bring you more footy every minute.

https://www.instagram.com/p/B1ajWHGnyJh/

Mixed reality and business: bringing value to VR

Telstra Vantage™

Posted on October 12, 2018

4 min read

Telstra brought together three experts on immersive new mixed, virtual and augmented reality technologies to discuss trends and business impact in a panel at the Vantage conference in September.

The panel emphasised that one of the most important considerations to make regarding the three technologies is that they each have different strengths and each lends itself to uses that the others do not. Take VR, for example:

“Virtual reality is as the sci-fi films promised,” said Jumpgate VR founder and managing director Anton Andreacchio. “You can put on a headset and go to a new world. But the way we see it is you can bring places and situations to people.”

No longer “a solution looking for a problem,” experts in the field now understand that the value of VR lies in its experiential quality. It connects deeply with people, and so it’s ideal for engagement with art or ideas or keeping everyone on the same page in complex stakeholder environments.

With the AFL, for instance, Andreacchio said they started out using VR to let people run through the banners with their favourite team, but now they use it to livestream games and train players. And even their understanding of how to do this has evolved, as they’ve learned the importance of the relationship dynamics between players and coaches in the training process.

Augmented reality, in contrast, is best utilised to add information to your view of the world, while mixed reality devices such as Microsoft’s HoloLens fall somewhere in between the other two and adds in better capabilities for sharing and collaboration.

Untethered, hands-free, remote computing

Microsoft HoloLens evangelist Lawrence Crumpton said that Microsoft is famous for putting a PC on every desktop, but now 80 percent of workers don’t actually have a PC. That’s as many as two billion people underserved by access to technology, who can’t carry traditional computers around with them and who in many cases do jobs where they can’t hold their hands in front of their face either.

It’s little wonder, then, that mixed reality — which essentially involves wearing a self-contained computer on your face — is quickly transforming how we conduct all sorts of business activities, especially in fields that involve 3D visualisation.

The construction, engineering, architecture and urban design industries have already embraced mixed reality, Crumpton said, because it improves their ability to manage tasks, change workflows and see instructions — all in 3D, without ever having to stare at a manual — and it allows them to get instant feedback about their work.

Specialist engineering firms, too, have found that with mixed reality they now have the capacity to solve problems remotely rather than flying people out to help in person — saving days of lost productivity for both them and their clients on every single machine breakdown or parts failure.

Solving impossible problems

Tatham Oddie, the managing director at Telstra-owned companies Readify and Kloud, talked about how mixed reality helped Qantas re-imagine big problems. The airline dramatically reduced the turnaround time on assessing and repairing damage to aircraft grounded after lightning strikes when it adopted a mixed reality solution that superimposes the inner wiring and systems onto a HoloLens wearer’s view of the plane’s panels — kind of like an x-ray — so now they can trace the problem without pulling anything apart.

The value of mixed reality here is not just on the business productivity side, either. Engineers and architects have begun to use mixed reality to give their clients walk-around tours of buildings during conception and early building phases.

Figuring out whether mixed reality — or perhaps instead AR or VR — will help your business comes down to understanding not only the context of how they each work but also, Andreacchio suggested, the dynamics at play.

The mixed reality solutions that are having the biggest impact consider the interpersonal side of a problem, and they reflect a company’s culture, values and people.

This doesn’t mean that you need to be an expert on the technology to understand how it could fit with your business, however. Crumpton suggested that businesses should look to partners with experience devising and implementing immersive technology solutions — like Telstra and Jumpgate — to help think through a problem. And also to leverage their expertise to chase after the big solutions — because you’ll never get the full benefits of digital transformation if you test the water with small, inconsequential problems.

Instead, he advised attendees, “pick the impossible problem. The thing you cannot solve another way. The thing that will not work on your mobile phone or your tablet or a large screen. The thing that involves people collaborating remotely because now you have a tool that allows you to solve it.”

More CEOs named Joan than John? How VR may tip the balance

Tech4Good

Posted on January 25, 2018

3 min read

There’s a reason why the Remarkable Accelerator has such a bold name. In part it’s the Remarkable ideas behind each of the program’s tech4good startups. But mostly, it’s the Remarkable people making these ideas a reality. With applications closing soon for the 2018 program, we want to share these Remarkable Stories. This is Annie’s.

Annie Harper isn’t someone you could easily forget. In Silicon Valley, she was known as the blue-haired hacker (not to mention a feisty cage fighter). Now based in Sydney, she’s a surfing, salsa dancing, rock-climbing tech entrepreneur.

But there are one or two times even Annie has felt invisible.

“I remember sitting in an audience last year while our co-founder Brennan was presenting on our startup Equal Reality,” Annie explained. “During the presentation, Brennan pointed me out in the crowd as his co-founder while talking about my virtual reality graphic animation.”

“Straight after the presentation, a man came bounding up and shook the hand of the man next me – congratulating him on his work and wanting to learn more. It hadn’t occurred to him that it was the 5’5″ blonde girl to his right who was the animator,” Annie laughed.

It’s ironic that this was exactly the type of unconscious bias experiences that had inspired the 32-year-old alongside partners Brennan Hatton and Rick Martin to create Equal Reality – the world’s first interactive diversity and inclusion training using high-end virtual reality (VR) technology.

Annie met Brennan three years ago while both working in Silicon Valley. She’d taught herself to code and was at Intel’s RealSense lab building brain-computer interface prototypes. At the same time Brennan was pioneering augmented reality (AR) technology, creating virtual worlds and communities, and founding his own companies in AR and VR.

Equal Reality - Remarkable Tech VR startup

The pair connected through their passion for adventure and the outdoors – on weekends you’ll find them canyoning, rock-climbing or even abseiling from bridges. But there was something deeper that brought them together. They both possessed a niggling feeling that they could use technology and their skills for social change. And it was a feeling they couldn’t let go of.

“When I first said to Brennan that sexism exists in our industry, he was surprised – he hadn’t seen it,” Annie said. “We talked about the unconscious biases people don’t even realise they bring to the workplace, stereotyping various groups of people, such as people with disabilities or those from different ethnicities, and yes, male-to-female biases.”

“We know these biases lead to discrimination, but how do you prevent them? How do you prevent something that people don’t even know that they do? We realised that VR technology was the perfect way to make an impact.”

There’s no doubt understanding personal unconscious biases can be hard through a PowerPoint presentation or corporate seminar. But through the immersive experience of VR, Equal Reality allows users to step into someone else’s shoes and feel the impacts of unconscious bias.

“We want to help companies shape their culture through high-end VR technology and experiential learning,” Annie said. “Equal Reality gives people the lived experience of different ethnicities, ages and physical impairments, helping them to understand their own prejudices through the eyes of others.”

“If a picture is worth a thousand words, an experience is worth a thousand pictures.”

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?