Joe and I visit Telstra’s Customer Insight Centre in Melbourne
On Monday Joe and I were invited to visit the Telstra Customer Insight Centre in Melbourne and were greeted by a good friend from Telstra, Vin who often visits Darwin. We made our way upstairs in Exhibition Street to the centre where we were greeted by lovely staff who introduced us to a recalcitrant robot almost as tall as me.
We left a couple of titanium card holding “working with robot” folk to tend to the robot while we entered an amazing demonstration of technology that is here and now.
There are a couple of things that make for interesting discussion. Everything is moving to the cloud, or the network depending on how you look at it. So like electricity, if you disconnect it or the consistency isn’t there, people get angry.
If Telstra’s network is the superhighway of Australia’s digital revolution, then like a toll operator wanting to increase safety and comfort plus offer services as a value add, Telstra is expanding the notion of the network beyond the old concept of say a carriageway which had risks of potholes, flooded areas and even highwaymen. Not saying Telstra has potholes but their network, like the freeways of today are a far cry from when roads were cut out the bush. With a network, like a freeway securely in place and operating smoothly, operators of these “highways” have to look for ways to improve or add value to the facilities they have.
Safety, amenity and additional services have been added to the humble freeway over the years. Whether it was CCTV to report on accidents with support vehicles to remove blockages or despatch emergency vehicles to an accident scene, many services were added that keep traffic flowing smoothly. Partnerships with service stations and councils added rest points and the ability to refuel the vehicle and the person.
Telstra is no different and in many ways offers far more exciting options because we can either be the destination with “things” being served up to us in our homes, offices or even on a physical highway. We can also travel along the wires to view live footage of our child in preschool, or check if aging parents have actively started their daily routine, sending an automatic text message to our phones so we don’t have to ring and disturb them.
What the insight centre offered was a series of technology examples, demonstrated wonderfully by Michael that allowed me to think how they might be applied in our educational environment in the Northern Territory.
In the same way my meeting with Brainary got me excited, here I saw possibilities in the classroom, even though many of the solutions were solving day to day issues. Healthcare solutions with specialised video links integrated with patient health records and programs so nurses don’t have to physically drive to all their patients to make sure they are taking their medicine… they can chat with and see their patients do that, or their exercises. This of course is not appropriate in all cases, but one less mile travelled physically to one patient means that another patient can benefit where that travel is required.
Same with the house of the future. Coming home in winter which is approaching here in Melbourne to a cold darkened home is certainly not as inviting as entering a house where the lights and maybe TV have been automatically switched on and more importantly the house has been preheated to comfortable level. The fridge has sent a text to you on the train advising you that milk is low and needs replenishing.
One abstract thought I had on one of business enabling technology partnerships that Telstra has was with a company that guides businesses small or large through creating, maintaining and enhancing their online business presence. Websites with ecommerce, social media connections and Search Engine Optimised pages reaching out and delivering back information on the effectiveness of the web campaign’s reach to existing and potentially new customers are skills that are part of the now for many businesses. Our students also need to be capable of learning and using these skills. This product which is a real “onboarding” tool for companies, could also be a teaching tool for students wanting see how they can increase the effectiveness of their websites or digital communication.
There was a holographic display which like the Robot (who did play nicely in the end) can be programmed and has sensors built in that can detect, match and respond.
Just like your smartphone that has a GPS and motion detector, robots and machines with cameras can view their surroundings and based on programming, just like a computer game can make assumptions and respond. When Joe stood in front of the robot, it picked him as being an 18 year old boy. He is in fact 14 but being 188cm there have been quite a few humans who have also picked him to be older than he is.
The fact that Joe and almost anyone I have met is comfortable communicating with robots means they are great for getting our messages out to people jaded with listening to other humans. Currently everyone seems to make a greater effort to get the robot to understand and react than they might with another human.
Joe really enjoyed the Oculus glasses which have a variety of uses in training, selling, gaming and more.
If students can’t or haven’t experienced this kind of technology, how can they learn to build it?
The internet of things is upon us and more than ever we need our students to be learning about programming arduinos or visualising scenarios that can be programmed. We hope with our Skills 2021 event planned for August we will be able to ignite and excite the young primary school students into working towards their future. A small object attached to an iPad was able to scan an object in 3D and print it out on one of the 3D printers. This is a little like the exciting Kinect 2.0 due to be launched this winter in Australia from Microsoft.
Joe also got to see some of the older technology on display which presents a contrast between the future and the past or to me demonstrates how far we have come since the days of Alexander Graham Bell.
Telstra partners with many companies and a lot of those companies are also partners with us, delivering education locally and remotely in the Northern Territory. A great day and many thanks to Team Telstra’s Michael, Vin and of course Nick (oh, and the Robot).
Next week I will be at the ConnectExpo in Melbourne and look forward to reporting on more exciting developments in the technology space.