Read our latest news, event top takeouts and announcements.
Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) have proved that they have the potential to change the way businesses use technology. Imagine the impact of being able to combine the two – being able to effectively merge the real and digital worlds.
Enter mixed reality (MR), technology that combines the virtual environment with the real world. Experienced via a head-mounted wearable display, users gain a real-time view of actual surroundings combined with an overlay of intelligent virtual objects that allows for new interactions through gesture and voice.
What is mixed reality?
What are the enterprise and consumer applications?
What are the current limitations and challenges of the technology?
How are mixed reality applications being used to improve the workplace?
Is mixed reality ethically neutral?
Ann Nolan - COO & Co-founder, Snobal
Luke Chadwick - Lead Engineer, REALABS (REA Group)
Tim Dwyer - Associate Professor, Faculty of IT, Monash University
MR is where AR, VR and the IoT collide or intersect. It involves taking digital objects – visualisations, virtualisations – and brings them into the physical world, giving digital objects physical characteristics.
MR is less obtrusive than VR as it allows its users to interact with tangible objects in a real environment, utilising overlaid augmented, digital content to create realistic scenarios.
Some analysts predict the value of the virtual market will be worth US$28 billion by 2020.
Consumer-facing applications for MR are limited. With more universally appealing content needed, immersive narrative-based storytelling has been flagged as an area that will likely lead to more users.
Enterprise applications of MR are being developed across many industries exploring use cases and pilot applications. Applications of MR for training and data visualization are proving to be game-changing.
Training and testing scenarios can be run in the digital world, creating a realistic digital copy of a set of circumstance that couldn’t otherwise be safely replicated, are costly to administer or not a true reflection of what a trainee will experience in the field.
MR is a game changer for data visualisation because it allows data to be more easily perceived, manipulated and interacted with. Situated analytics has applications for workplaces where workers may not have their hands free and need to access information quickly.
MR is hamstrung by current hardware. This includes uncomfortable headsets, being tethered and latency.
Current price point for headsets like the Microsoft HoloLens is hindering mass market appeal, keeping consumer level adoption and usage rates low.
A unique challenge is how children will interpret MR scenarios. With real environments colliding with virtual environments, there is the very real potential for children to have difficulty distinguishing between the real and virtual.
Image credit: Lucas Giolito tries out virtual reality by Arturo Pardavila III
The risk of a bad user experience in voice is higher than for screen. Unless you invest more in a custom solution through a smaller company, then you need to work within the limitations of Echo and Google Home. The tolerance for a bad experience is also much lower for voice users - they are likely to be less familiar with voice than they are with screen, but also expect it to be the quicker, easier option, making your window for success smaller.
To give your skill the best chance of succeeding, be sure to do the following -
While some might bark orders at their phone, the best experience is one that feels conversational. To create that you need to use copywriters, and you need to do your research. Look into any forums related to your industry and observe how your audience are using language.
This also has implications for SEO, which is now rewarding natural language and longer-form content.
Did you know there are over 40,000 ways to request a flight? They include airlines, times, days, locations, and then mannerisms and phrasings for each combination. You need to identify each of the iterations for your skill, and develop responses to match. Nothing turns a user off quicker than, ‘Sorry, something went wrong. Please repeat your request.’
It is a monstrous, and largely manual task identifying the thousands, and thousands, and thousands, and thousands, of different ways different people can ask the same question, so chances are high you may miss one or two. Create shortcuts that allow your skill to fill in the blanks, rather that failing to progress unless it has a 100% match to something it recognises.
You can do this through account-linking and assumptions. Account-linking may help to pull in some of the users basic data - full name, birth date etc - without having to ask too many follow-up questions. These follow-ups can make the experience feel more like a phone conversation and the point-of-difference (convenience) is lost.
Assumptions can be built in to the AI engine to assist the skill. For example; if a user asks for session times for a movie but does not state the day, you can assume it is for that day and respond with those times, rather than asking.
The nuances of language and translation are a key challenge to taking a skill to audiences in different countries, with different languages. To capture these, it is best to employ a team on the ground in each of the countries you wish to target - translation is not a simple conversion.
The unique freedom that comes from interacting with a screen, rather than a person, is why we have keyboard warriors. The same can apply to voice interactions. It’s important to include polite responses as part of your output not only for these users, but for older generations who will speak to technology as if they were a person sitting across from them. Programming greetings, ‘thank yous’ and ‘pleases’ will help to personalise the experience for your audience.
For around fifty thousand dollars, brands can get their own ‘voice’. There are benefits to having your own - it can mirror your brand more closely, and appeal to your specific audience. However, because of the limitations on the technology the risks of errors, and a bad experience, are high and you may find that the voice you have invested in, becomes associated with failure. So for now, let Alexa take the heat.
Voice is a whole new experience compared to screen, using entirely different human skills and senses - speech and hearing, rather than sight. Just as you can’t directly translate into another language without consulting cultural norms and mannerism, you can’t do a direct translation of your screen content to voice. Imagine trying to maintain the attention of your user while Alexa reads out a full web page? Consider the best applications of voice for your users needs and develop an experience tailored to help fulfil and achieve these.
These tips came from our recent event, Utilising Voice Technologies: Why type when you can talk.
Photo by Andres Urena on Unsplash
Hooray! We’re pleased to announce that the Churchill Club has now transformed from a company structure into a not-for-profit. That means we can continue to assist those in emerging technologies – whether they be researching or developing, implementing into business, funding or regulating them – without a focus on commercial imperatives.
Actually, no. Until now, it’s been structured as a company and run as a social venture. However, seeing us as a not-for-profit is an easy misconception to make given that we have always strived to be impartial and transparent, and act in the best interests of all advancing emerging technologies in Victoria.
The Churchill Club will now have more opportunities to access funds. In the past, we have solely relied on funding from memberships, ticket sales and appropriate corporate partnerships to cover its expenses. Now, we are delighted to be eligible for a wider range of government grants and to have opened the door to a wider range of sponsors.
Firstly, nothing but good. Not-for-profit status means more members to connect with and being able to partner with government for bigger and better events.
Secondly, we will continue to improve the quality of our events – and where possible, host special occasions. This year, we are thrilled to announce that the Churchill Club will be hosting a ‘Top Tech Trends 2018 Debate Dinner’ as part of the Victorian government’s Digital Innovation Festival, 6 September.
Lastly (but not least), members now have the ability to play a greater role in how the club is run. You are invited to our AGM, and we encourage everyone to contribute. We will take feedback and suggestions seriously.
CEO of the Churchill Club, Bec Kempster, says, “We recognise that Victoria needs a voice that represents all players in emerging technologies – regardless of their business maturity, or the industry they operate in. There’s a number of shared challenges that arise in relation to emerging tech including commercialisation, managing data security and privacy and overcoming user skepticism, through to funding and talent acquisition and retention. These aren’t just Start-up challenges, but are faced by all businesses. By facilitating conversations and sharing experiences we can seek to collectively address these challenges and improve the outcomes delivered from these technologies.”
2018 marks an exciting year for the Churchill Club; we are committed to investing time and energy into accelerating industry like never before. If you are not a member of the Churchill Club and would like to be (or you would like to renew your membership), please visit our memberships page.
Beneath the bitcoin hype is a system that could truly change the way that businesses actually do business with each other and consumers, and the way consumers manage and transfer their own data - blockchain.
The applications across industries appear to be endless - funding and delivering food to Syrian refugees, the world’s largest shipping company (Maersk) using it to track cargo and various banking institutions doing their own testing. It’s also been suggested that thanks to its transparent and decentralised nature, it will challenge the premise of capitalism.
What blockchain is and how advanced it is
What are the benefits of blockchain for B2B and B2C
It’s limitations and challenges
The role of government
Rosa Thompson - Project Manager, ConsenSys & Co-organiser, Women in Blockchain Melbourne
Dr Joseph Liu - Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Information Technology, Monash University
Lyndon Gasking - Founder, Zoetic.AI
Dr Donald Feaver –CTO, E2Language.com, Branded Trust Assurance Systems, LearningBase and TDS Web 3.0 Solutions
The key features of blockchain include a decentralised, distributed ledger where there is consensus between all participants about the validity of a transaction and immutability once it has been recorded.
Blockchain creates a completely transparent system and in theory, this transparency should mean that ethical and credible participants – or organisations - rise to the top, while the unethical and fraudulent are exposed.
Brands where ethics and sustainability are core to their values, can differentiate themselves with records that blockchain enables them to have and can also make more informed decisions on who they do business with.
Transparency does not equal credibility. Having the ability to upload raw data into the blockchain doesn’t necessarily provide context - how and where the analysis was completed and how was the data was validated before it was entered. The devil lies in the details.
Decentralisation means no central point of regulation and authority. When working across borders, businesses are still dealing with countries that have different rules, regulations and standards. This can make it difficult to establish enough trust and confidence to reach consensus.
A distributed ledger means participants having immediate and total access to data can create security issues. It can expose sensitive data to competitors and leave you vulnerable to theft of intellectual property.
Businesses are trying to understand the value proposition of blockchain, alongside implications for strategy and consumer and business confidence.
Using blockchain adds to the cost of goods and services which is inevitably passed on to the customer. At this stage, the equation doesn’t always stack up.
Sophistication and innovation are needed to propel blockchain forward to where the value proposition and strategic implications are clear, and any costs passed on to the customer are minimised.
Blockchain is in its infancy. Currently, the benefit lies when it’s seen as a tool that is part of a bigger solution working cohesively with other tools (like IoT).
The Clean Energy Target has been replaced by the National Energy Guarantee, Elon Musk built a giant lithium battery in South Australia, Tony Abbott thinks Global Warming might be a good thing, and our power bills keep climbing. With such a sustained hold on the news cycle and glaringly obvious (and serious) issues at stake, frustration and fatigue at energy policy is understandable.
When we’re being inundated with doomsday statistics and the political merry-go-round on policy, it’s difficult to feel as though consumers have any control or influence. However, as we discovered, options exist and we don’t necessarily have to sacrifice profitability or reliability to make the transition to sustainability.
“I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career.
I’ve lost almost 300 games.
26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed.
I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life.
And that is why I succeed”’
- Michael Jordan
It is said that only two things in life are certain: death and taxes.
We’d like to add a third to that list – failures - and it’s inevitable that come the end of another year, we all reflect on them.
So we put failures under the microscope to ask how we learn the lessons they have to offer, in order to find our feet and strive again. What we heard were some tips on how to deal with failure, how to grow from it, and the common culprits behind it.
Consider this your 2018 cheat sheet to failing upwards.
“Assumptions are the mother of all evil”, may be the mantra of 2018.
If you take only one piece of advice from this, it’s that most failures can be traced to an idea or assertion that hasn’t been tested or confirmed.
An assumption could be that your business partners share the same vision as you, that your target market will just ‘get’ your idea, or that suppliers will distribute your product. They are not always hiding grossly in plain sight, and in fact most are the result of miscommunication. Unpacking even the most commonly held truths, may help you to avoid future failure.
Passion, gut feelings and hard work are important - they drive your ideas to fruition and allow you to sacrifice for your end goal. One thing they don’t do is guarantee success, yet in the midst of time and financial pressures, it can be easy to rely on these and skip the sometimes painstaking, time-consuming, or expensive process of due diligence.
As well as being a useful tool for challenging the aforementioned assumptions, it can also uncover information that could change the direction of your idea, by informing it, or (unfortunately) revealing that there may be no market for it.
Objectivity + Honesty = Understanding
Anyone who has ever tried to create something commercial out of a passion knows that emotion is a crucial driver, but it can also be a barrier to uncovering why that something hasn’t worked.
It can stop you from shining an objective light on the process and decisions that led you to failure. It can stop you from asking questions of your colleagues and collaborators, and it can stop you from sharing your own thoughts or opinions.
Finding a way to remove emotion from the situation, to share your honest opinion, can lead to an understanding of, if not the root of the failure, at least it’s contributing factors. Understanding why and how something went wrong, is key to moving on from it.
Just as your emotional investment can stop you from critically investigating a failure, it can also stop you from identifying and accepting your individual role in it.
By applying an objective filter to your actions and decisions, you can identify your weaknesses, areas of inexperience or lack of expertise. Ask the right, hard questions of yourself and be prepared to listen to external feedback as well.
A person who can define and own their role in a failure is empowered to avoid their mistakes in the future, whereas someone who cannot is doomed to repeat them.
Understanding and dealing with a failure leaves one with a lot of knowledge and the only way to avoid the same mistakes again is to use that knowledge to learn and adapt.
Adapting can happen at an individual level and at a business level. You may have discovered that there is a skill-set you’re lacking that is preventing you from succeeding, or you may have gained a crucial insight from your market that changes the direction of your business.
To support change, you can:
Reach out to mentors for advice and guidance - it’s likely they’ve been there before
Seek inspiration from different industries
Learn new approaches or methodologies from different skillsets or professions
Reach out to your competitors - it’s likely you might both be facing the same challenges
Failure is, by definition, a lack of success, but this doesn’t have to be a permanent state, nor does it have to be the end of the story.
If you consider failure to be a pit stop on the way to success, then the knowledge and lessons you learn become opportunities. It may be corny, and it may be clichéd but there is one high-profile failure that illustrates this point well:
Announced in 2012, and launched in 2014 at the retail price of $1,500, Glass was one of the first products in wearable tech.
It has also been considered a rare commercial flop for Google.
Consumer feedback centered on two themes:
The glasses didn’t look good and;
Wearing them made people feel uneasy (wearers were called ‘glassholes’).
The product was withdrawn in 2015 and it would have been easy to relegate the unappealing eyewear to the archive of failed products (e.g. Vegemite’s iSnack).
Instead Google’s Alphabet X began interrogating the product against the market data and an opportunity emerged - production. Glass Enterprise Edition (EE) is now being used by workers in factories for companies such as Boeing, DHL, and Volkswagon to improve productivity and safety.
Cyber security: everyone from Medicare to Uber has been hacked of late and there is not only an opportunity to improve cyber security technology, but an absolute need for it to improve.
Jawbone: while it went into liquidation in July, don’t be surprised if we see more from the talent behind the tech that at its peak was valued at $4.2b. A leader in bluetooth and wearable technology, Jawbone paved the way for companies like FitBit.
Tesla: it’s not technically a failure yet, but it does seem as though production will be unable to meet the output required to be commercially viable. Though, as with Jawbone, we may find the success lies in the technology transforming and progressing the industry at large, and the talent goes on to something bigger.
Would you like a piece of a $13 trillion pie? That’s how much an expected, world-wide, $6 billion investment in IoT solutions will generate by the year 2025.
The predictions and statistics around IoT are numerous and impressive. We can experience it in our homes, and have watched as disruptors reshape industries, or create new ones, with businesses built around it. But there is more to IoT than big numbers and high profile companies - it’s giving businesses of all sizes, in a broad range of sectors, more visibility and control over their operations than ever before.
What an IoT solution involves, and the business case for implementation
The industries and businesses implementing IoT
The benefits and impact of an IoT solution on business models
Legal and security issues associated with data collection, storage and exchange
Anat Efron, Ecosystems Director ANZ - Thinxtra
Matt Sinclair, Senior Technology Specialist - Telstra
Travis Crothers, CEO & Cofounder - Creator Global
Patrick Duffy, CEO - E Agri
IoT consists of three layers – physical (device hardware), network (that transmits data collected at the physical layer to other connected devices) and application (protocols and interfaces used to identify connected devices and facilitate communication).
Benefit of IoT is it enables the exchange of copious volumes of data and real time analytics, shining a light on systems, processes, or behaviours that may have previously been obscured.
IoT also enables businesses to have greater control over their activities through continuous, remote monitoring.
IoT applications fall into two categories - Information and analysis (i.e tracking behaviour) and automation and control (i.e. process optimisation).
Before embarking on IoT develop a problem statement that has buy-in from all stakeholders and define what success looks like.
Keep stakeholders engaged and educated.
Consider maintenance capabilities and security. The latter should be a priority, discussed from the outset. Reset default passwords for devices!
Be aware that IoT solutions have a domino effect. The deployment of the solution often requires a digital transformation, which can lead to an evaluation of existing systems and processes.
IoT provides great opportunity for SMEs. Being nimble often means it’s easier to adapt to the impacts of an IoT solution, particularly one that is incremental, which can also allow for manageable costs. Consider yourself a testing ground for IoT providers.
Don’t underestimate the transition involved for embarking on IOT - it's an organisational wide commitment, but one that comes with tangible benefits if executed well.
This week has been a busy week for Australian FinTech thanks to the Intersekt Festivaland Collab Collide Summit.
Some of the key themes being discussed at the Summit included:
Here’s key take-outs from the sessions The Churchill Club attended…
INDUSTRY WARNING – "Superannuation is at Ground Zero… they should learn from the mistakes their colleagues in banking made 4-5 years ago."
Bec Kempster attended the Collab Collide Summit 2017, as a guest of the Intersekt Festival.
We have identified that Victoria needs a voice that represents all players in emerging technologies – regardless of their business size or structure, or the industry they operate in.
There’s a number of shared challenges that those in emerging tech that repeatedly come up in our panel discussions at The Churchill Club including:
Our role moving forward will be to assist those in emerging technologies – whether they be researching or developing, implementing into business, funding or regulating them.
We recognise we need to be an impartial and transparent organisation, that’s not driven by commercial imperative, to assist in advancing emerging technologies and accelerating industries here in Victoria. Incorporating as a not-for-profit will assist us in realising this purpose.
We will be hosting a pre-incorporation meeting on Thursday 26 October 2017 for Churchill Club members to agree to this proposed transition.
We encourage you to become a financial member of the Churchill Club to support us in making this possible.
By becoming a member you will have a say in the running of the organisation, including the ability to vote at our upcoming Pre-Incorporation Meeting, along with a host of other member benefits.
Above all you will be advocating for the advancement of emerging technologies that provide the most optimal solutions for us all.
Personalisation emerged as the key theme of October’s panel discussion, Applying Data to Improve the Customer Experience. It has toppled segmentation as the go-to marketing model for defining audiences, and is derived from the increasing amount of consumer data available to businesses.
Personalisation is also challenging business - and agency - self-perceptions of customer centricity, exposing pitfalls in established processes and supplier relationships that constrain a truly customer-first approach.
The differences between segmentation and personalisation, and the influence of data in this transition
What it truly means to be customer-centric and how to obtain meaningful insights • Established structures and beliefs that may be holding businesses and agencies back
The role of technology
The ethics of personalisation - the use and application of individual data
The future of the workforce - what skills will be relevant? What should we be upskilling in now?
Edward Crouch, General Manager - Lavender
Nigel Dalton, Chief Inventor - REA Group
Mark Chatterton, Cofounder - inGenious AI
Talk to people. You don’t need to use high tech methods to capture customer data – just a room and video camera or audio recorder.
When collecting customer data, do so with both purpose and empathy.
Break the culture of justifying change because someone says “I think”. Empirical evidence should drive all decisions.
Acquisition is no longer the focus. Customer engagement and retention is far more important.
Chatbots can streamline your customer service function, freeing up your customer service team members to focus on the more difficult questions.
Surprisingly, in some scenarios like health, customers will feel more comfortable confiding in a bot that won’t judge them, rather than a fellow human.
Always be honest and transparent with customers if you’re using a chatbot. Never pretend it’s a human.
In the Future of Work we’re going to need more Analysts to correctly identify and define problems; Data scientists and; Communicators to get buy in on new solutions from stakeholders.
Don’t be creepy. Just because you have the data, doesn’t mean you need to use it.
And remember… Customer research is a lot cheaper than software development!
The ClusterLevel 17, 31 Queen StreetMelbourne, Victoria