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Telstra’s new CTO rules the innovation roost

Anthony Caruana | May 4, 2017
CTO unveils Telstra Labs.

For example, drone operators must be able to see the device they are operating at all times. This places constraints on where a drone can be used. On a farm, a drone can be equipped with thermal imaging in order to track livestock locations and even their health as the cameras can detect when an animal has a fever. Or it can tell the difference between weed and crops so pesticides and herbicides are used wisely.

The application of this technology is broad. It can be used to detect lost people during search and rescue operations, as Telstra's mobile network operates 20km or more offshore. One search-and-rescue drone Eriksson showed could drop a buoyancy device to someone in the sea or sound an alarm if it detects a shark.

Eriksson and his colleagues noted Telstra is working with CASA (Australia's Civil Aviation Safety Authority) on guidelines that allow drone operators to take advantage of new capabilities without compromising safety.

This is where Telstra's scale and resources can be valuable to start-ups as they have mechanisms to engage with outside agencies that might be opaque to smaller entities.

Among the other technologies on show at the IoT lab were 3D scanners and printers. This allows developers to manufacture bespoke parts on the fly, during development and testing.

Another area that Telstra is working on is the use of augmented reality. A practical example of how this technology could be used is with helping customers setting up new devices.

Eriksson showed a video demonstration of how someone could point the camera on their smartphone at a new device and set up information, such as what cables to plug in, was displayed on the phone's display.

Other applications, using headsets such as the Microsoft Hololens or Google Glass were also shown.

An important element of the lab environment was the amount of collaborative space. In addition to workbench environments for specific testing there were meeting rooms for conducting hackathons - such as an upcoming event focussed on agtech - and common areas where people working in the labs and entrepreneurs in the muru-D incubator could meet and share ideas informally.


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