Jul 202016
radio programs for techonology, web, social media, cloud computing and computer advice

This Thursday night join Tony Delroy and myself on ABC Nightlife to discuss Pokemon Go, how tech is changing the workforce and the future of Australia’s technology industry following the Federal election.

It’s taken a while but we finally have a video game that gets people off the couch and onto the streets. For the last two weeks we’ve been hearing stories of how hundreds of people are dodging cars, invading police stations and stampeding across parks as they try to catch virtual reality animals in the Pokemon Go game.

What is Pokemon Go and is this the future of augmented reality are two of the questions Tony and I will be discussing. We’re also looking at what the Federal election means for the government’s much lauded Innovation Statement along with the Moonhack record of the greatest number of kids programming at one time.

Some of the questions we cover include;

  • What is Pokemon Go?
  • Isn’t Pokemon somewhat old school?
  • Why did it take off?
  • So we’ve heard a bit about augmented reality. Is this what it’s really about?
  • Beyond games, are there any useful purposes for AR?
  • Are we all going to have strange headsets strapped to our heads?
  • Can we expected Australia to provide many of these AR applications?
  • What sort of support is the government giving these developers?
  • Apart from what was already announced what did the Federal election mean to the Aussie tech sector?
  • After all the noise late last year, tech and innovation wasn’t really much of an issue during the election?
  • Does all this talk of tech really matter to the average Australian worker?

Join us

Tune in on your local ABC radio station from 10pm Australian Eastern Summer time or listen online at www.abc.net.au/nightlife.

We’d love to hear your views so join the conversation with your on-air questions, ideas or comments; phone in on 1300 800 222 within Australia or +61 2 8333 1000 from outside Australia.

You can SMS Nightlife’s talkback on 19922702, or through twitter to @paulwallbank using the #abcnightlife hashtag or visit the Nightlife Facebook page.

Jul 102016

It’s remarkable how the reworking of a 1990s video game is proving to be the first big augmented reality success.

As I’m writing this in the Sydney Airport departures lounge, thousands of people are getting ready to trawl the city’s streets for Pokemon as the company’s servers struggle with the load.

For Nintendo, a company that’s struggled to remain relevant in recent years, Pokemon Go’s success revitalises them while for Niantic, the augmented reality and mapping service spun off from Google, this validates their business.

Niantic’s success after being spun off from Google probably indicates the future for many of Alphabet’s many companies. Freed from the constraints of Google’s sprawling bureaucracy, companies like Niantic are far more likely to be able to execute on their technologies.

We can expect to see plenty of companies looking at replicating Pokemon Go’s success with their products and many millions of bits will created as the marketing industry ponders how it can make money from augmented reality games and applications. Most will fail.

The big winner though from Pokemon Go’s success are those in the artificial and virtual reality communities, the great success of the product will have caught the imagination of many executives and entrepreneurs – particularly in the tech sector where the search for the next big is becoming a little frantic as investors and consumers become jaded with smartphones and social media.

Pokemon Go marks the start of the augmented reality gold rush, who profits from it remains to be seen. It also gives Alphabet a strong indicator of how to monetize the companies under the Google umbrella.

Jun 212016

What are the technologies that will change business over the coming years? During Gartner’s Business Transformation & Process Management Summit in Sydney on Tuesday, we had the opportunity to talk to Brian Blau, the company’s Vice President of Research, about what he sees as the five technologies that are most likely to change business.

Brian himself brings a lot of experience with emerging technologies, while he’s currently Gartner’s leading Apple analyst and specialises in consumer and mobile & Wireless technologies he spent the previous twenty years working in the virtual reality field which gives him an informed perspective on the many of the current popular tech buzzwords.

Talking to Blau in the busy analysts room at the Sydney Hilton, he kept reaching into his bad to show off his collection of the latest gizmos ranging from VR headsets through to smartwatches and fitness trackers, showing his enthusiasm for the field he covers.

Augmented and Virtual Reality

“It’s been a long time coming, I had twenty years in AR/VR and I’ve been an analyst for six and I’m glad I have that background,” says Blau.

Blau sees augmented and virtual reality tools altering the workplace dramatically as they change the experience for workers. The industries he sees being affected in the near future are sectors like field service, training and design.


“Wearables are interesting devices,” Blau says. “You can almost think about them as transitory technologies so today there may be lightweight analytics about what employees do at work or what consumers do in public is kind of a stepping stone. If that device has a screen or some sort of interface on it, it becomes interactive.”

Blau cautions though that much of the data gathered from consumer wearable devices is far from reliable and while the quality of information improves there is still a way to go until we can depend upon these devices for life or mission critical tasks.

Virtual Personal Assistants

“These are combinations of hardware and software – Apple Siri, Microsoft Cortana or Amazon Alexa,” Blau states. “These Virtual Personal Assistants are having a big transformation, today they answer simple questions based on rules but in the future they are going to be hyper-smart.”

“Facebook, Apple and the rest of them have opened up their platforms to developers, we think this has applicability to all sorts of consumers and in the business domain we’re going to see these devices used in workplaces.”

Cameras and computer vision devices

“There are two advances that are happening, there are multi lens camera devices and the algorithms behind them are starting to decode what’s behind the image,” says Blau. “I think this is exciting technology as it’s an input that’s never been digital before.”

Blau sees the increasing sophistication of cameras and the software processing the images as finding important applications within the workplace, “there’s a lot of tasks around vision that are manually processed at the moment and computer vision is going to automate those.”

Personal IoT devices

“These are more about the workforce, the sensors that are in the work environment are those that people could bring to work, it overlaps with wearables.” Blau says, “the next generation of IoT devices are going to be much more personal.”

“Almost every business I talk to is very interested in virtual reality and wearables,” states Blau. “There is a high amount of interest because there’s a firm belief these devices will change workplace and consumer behaviours.”

For these devices to be adopted on a large scale, they will have to become more reliable Blau believes with the barriers currently being that most devices and their software are still at Minimum Viable Product stage.

Tips for the future

Blau advises businesses looking at these technologies should start with a basic belief that the specific technology will benefit their business, then they have to experiment and identify what the return on investment will be. “My main advice is to experiment with the technology, run a series of pilot programs, make sure you’re diverse in what you are looking and keep an open mind,” he says.

“The goal with these devices is to change behaviour,” Blau states. “The real challenge will be to get it right over time. You’ll have to reiterate time upon time.”

With these new technologies entering the business world, companies are going to face changes both within their workforces and in their markets. Being across the potential of these technologies is going to be essential for managers.

May 052016

As video technology accelerates, the push for augmented and virtual reality applications accelerates. Of the two different technologies, it looks like augmented reality is beginning to get traction in the marketplace.

One example of an augmented reality application is Skulley Systems, a motorbike helmet with a head up display similar to those in fighter jets.

The idea was the result of the company’s founder having a motorbike accident in Barcelona as he was reading a street sign. Dr Marcus Weller wanted to buy a bike helmet that displayed driving information and found there was nothing on the market.

Dr Weller is not alone in his idea of augmented reality devices, Sony have reportedly patented a contact lens that will record the details of your life and play it back to you. It’s just one of many different augmented reality ideas that inventors are proposing although Sony’s appears to be more of defensive patent ploy rather than a real product.

Skulley though doesn’t have the smart motorbike market to itself, last year Intel demonstrated their own motor bike helmet that integrates with the bike’s internal management systems.

The main difference between Sony’s patent and Skulley Systems is the motorcycle helmet is close to reality having been through a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign, then seed and venture capital investment.

What Skulley are showing is the augmented reality applications are close to fruition, partly because ideas like visor displays are clear solutions for today’s problems. We are though only at the beginning of the roll out of both artificial and virtual reality technologies.

Mar 012016

After virtual reality viewers being the big item at both the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona and Las Vegas’ Consumer Electronics Show earlier this year, it’s not surprising they are appearing on the market.

Yesterday both Microsoft’s HoloLens and HTCs Vive were made available to the public. At $3,000 for the Microsoft viewer and $800 for the HTC device, these products won’t get much traction in the mass market.

For those wanting a cheaper VR device, Google Cardboard has also come onto the market for $15 and while it depends upon a smartphone with the right software and lacks the features of more expensive and sophisticated devices, it is an affordable consumer product.

Like all early stage technologies, the current crop of VR viewers are expensive and somewhat cumbersome but over the next few years we can expect the price of these devices to collapse and become far more usable.

We’re in early times for the virtual reality industry. What we’re seeing today is laying the ground for much more exciting things.

Feb 222016
How do mobile phone users reduce costs

That telecommunications companies are taking the back seat at the global Mobile World Congress as virtual reality hogs the limelight, it may be telcos are facing the fate their managers fear most – becoming a mere utility.

Following the hype around virtual reality at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas last months, it’s not surprising this year’s Mobile World Congress in Barcelona has continued the theme.

As Samsung and Huawei dominated the first day of the Barcelona event; Google, Facebook and a range of startups are also fighting to dominate a market estimated being worth $150 billion by the end of the decade.

What’s notable though are how the telecommunications companies are missing in this field, having lost the battle for payments – its notable how little telco money is now being invested in fintech and blockchain companies while the banking industry pours money into the sectors.

For the telcos, the industry that should be dominating Mobile World Congress, there seems to be very little promise in these technologies to their maturing revenue streams from their networks.

While telcos are focusing on new handsets, data centres, intelligent infrastructure and media plays it seems they are increasingly missing key shifts in the marketplaces.

Maybe what this year’s Mobile World Congress really tells us is the telcos are on their way to being utilities. Their executives may need to swallow some pride.

Feb 182016
radio programs for techonology, web, social media, cloud computing and computer advice

Pundits are saying 2016 will be the year Virtual Reality comes to the home, with Silicon Valley investors pouring money into the technology, the long awaited Oculus Rift due to be released this year and the heavily hyped Meta launching soon.

If you missed the show, you can hear it podcast through the Nightlife website.

Tonight on ABC Nightlife we’ll look at what VR, and its cousin Augmented Reality, are and what they mean to us ordinary people.  Some of the questions we’ll be looking at include;
  • Exactly what are Augmented and Virtual Reality?
  • Why all the hype now?
  • Why are investors putting so much money into the space?
  • Apart from games what can this tech be used for?
  • Do you always have to wear the funny glasses?
  • Does the headsets always need to be connected to a computer?
  • What are the devices and brands we should be watching out for?
  • Is it likely consumers will be able to afford this technology in the near future?
  • Will 2016 really be the year of virtual or augmented reality?

If we get time, we’ll also look at Apple’s fight with the FBI over encryption (security researcher Troy Hunt has an excellent run down of the issues at stake) and what happens if you change the date on your iPhone to 1970.

Join us

Tune in on your local ABC radio station from 10pm Australian Eastern Summer time or listen online at www.abc.net.au/nightlife.

We’d love to hear your views so join the conversation with your on-air questions, ideas or comments; phone in on 1300 800 222 within Australia or +61 2 8333 1000 from outside Australia.

You can SMS Nightlife’s talkback on 19922702, or through twitter to @paulwallbank using the #abcnightlife hashtag or visit the Nightlife Facebook page.