Alright, Day 2 of the Wearable Technologies Conference 2017. Sydney International Convention Centre, NSW, 7th-8th of December 2017.
Like I said in part 1, this was my 1st proper conference and while it was a bit intimidating. By day 2 I was feeling a lot better and ready to try my had at this networking thing.
The day involved everything from Wearable Technology (WT) e-payments and the disruption this can cause and how to adapt and make use of it. To using WT for industrial health and safety applications, the Internet of Things (IoT) plus, a review of WT’s past and look to its future.
The 2nd and final day of the conference kicked off with Christian Stammel. Giving a rundown on some amazing patchable technologies and detailing which areas of the WT industry is overdue for a disruption. This was of particular interest to me as I’d come to the conference hoping to get an understanding of my place in the WT landscape. It was a massive ego boost and validation to see the area I want to base my honours on (Both the production and storage of energy for wearable tech,) is one of the most overdue for innovation.
This was followed by some really engaging and insightful presentations from Gilles Novel, CEO of Wearify and Qaizar Hassonjee, CEO of Tilt Textiles. Both speaking of the state of the art in wearables, the areas which are waiting to be innovated. Qaizar also speaking of how industry and academia can work together to cultivate an environment of innovation and entrepreneurship.
This lead us straight into the panel discussion “Growing the Wearable Technologies Ecosystem.” With panellists Christian Stammel, Anuraj Gambhir, Gilles Novel returning to the stage. Joined by, Stuart Waite founder and CEO of Timpani an IoT consultancy group. Who assist businesses with Digital Transformation and improving the way they use the IoT. And Kiah Hickson, Founder of StartFizz.com a start-up designed to help start-ups by sharing tools and resources essential to operation. She’s also involved with a number of projects aimed at getting girls involved with STEM activities.
The panel was a wealth of knowledge re: fostering a start up friendly culture and encouraging people to make their ideas reality. The conversation shifted through the how’s and why’s of assisting start-ups to get up and running, to the importance of getting kids and the general public excited about STEM and wearable tech.
I was quite proud to put up my hand during these discussions and inform the room about the Victorian Tech Schools program. Which includes the Ballarat Tech School (BTS), where I’ve been undertaking a summer internship. These STEM learning facilities represent a renewed sense of innovation and investment in STEM learning from the state government. Giving access to resources and facilities which local schools couldn’t dream of on their own. They’re so exciting and an important step in helping us not only meet but overcome the issues and technologies of the future.
I was also able to chat with Kiah during the coffee break about some of her projects and the BTS game plan for engaging students in the Ballarat area.
After networking and coffee we’re back to it.
Transactions and payments through wearable technologies is the topic, their acceptance, use, how they disrupt, and how to do the disrupting.
Lance Blockley, Managing Director and Payments Landscape Expert from the Initiatives Group. Gave us a run-down of how Australians use ‘hands-free’ transactions, how wearables can be used and an example of what happens when the tech is there but not the demand. As a case study the ‘Heritage Bank Power Suit’ produced in 1999 was one of the 1st wearable payment products, with 20 being produced and almost no one using them. Some really interesting stuff, I was also exited to find out Lance’s thoughts on Sydney biohacker Meow-Ludo Meow-Meow’s implanted Opal card. The notion in the room was that some people would that take it up this kind of tech application. There are still people who won’t register their public transport cards for fear of being tracked or monitored. So it’s not likely to catch on with more than a very select niche.
On to Frank Ong, managing director of Idemia a company that specialises in “Augmented Identity”, using facial recognition and biometric data to access payments, tickets and bookings. Frank spoke about some of the ‘Opportunities and Threats’ wearable technologies pose to existing business and the status quo. One of the main themes of the event has been, “Disrupt or be disrupted” to do this you need to be swift in developing your idea and get it to the market before it’s moved on. As Frank said
“Know your market and be the first one to get there.”
This was echoed by Peter Colbert, sharing his experiences developing the INAMO a reloadable and wearable payment device and what it takes to make it in Silicon Valley.
“Don’t ask for permission.”
Development of the INAMO was continuously made difficult by red tape when attempting to communicate with the various transportation departments. Getting nowhere it was decided to just “Hack the system” allowing for the development and implementation of the INAMO devices both here and in the US.
Last in the morning session was Lucy Anderson, Head of Payment Innovation from the Australian Payments Network. Discussing how open loop payment services have affected other markets and how we can expect them to affect the Australian market as well. Open loop systems are when your device is linked directly to your credit or debit card and it’s used in exactly the same way.
It was a big morning and to get the afternoon underway we jumped straight into Andrew Hayke, Co-Founder of Ammo.co giving a rundown of how to use Wearable Technology to make industrial worksites safer and some of the hazard control measures required to do it. Having spent a lot of time reading safety standard and developing health and safety procedures over the last few months it was cool to get a bit more insight into how tech can be used as a tool to keep us safe in high risk industrial environments.
This was followed by a presentation from James Mack, General Manager of M2M One sharing his thoughts on what an Internet of Things device really is and the importance of selecting the right system to meet industry needs for the Australian IoT market. M2M One specialise in IoT systems and machine to machine communication.
To Discuss all things IoT in the Australian ecosystem Andrew and James were then joined by Renald Gallis. VP Ecosystems and Management from Thinxtra an IoT solutions company who use Low Power Wireless Area Networks (LPWANs) to connect billions of devices, efficiently, worldwide. It was another great discussion regarding the potential for connected technology, how to make the best use of IoT and other tech to disrupt and what areas are ripe for the disruption.
Unfortunately, the day had run late so Anaraj Gambhir’s presentation on trends in WT’s Past and Future was cut short. However, It was still amazing to see where people thought tech would go and get his insights from decades of experience, as to the WT space over the last 20 years. Having a guided tour of some of the success stories as well as the failure was such a great way to end the conference. It was both a cautionary tale and really fun.
There had been so much to take in across such a wide range of topics that at times it was hard to keep track. By the end of Day two I was exhausted although I left feeling excited that I’d picked a topic for my Honours research that the market was clearly hanging out for.
Attending the conference was a great success however, upon reflection while I left feeling more confident with my networking abilities there were a few things I felt I could have done better. You really don’t have time to develop these skill on the fly at an event like this. This is the list of some of the things I learned over the two days of my first conference. I’ll defiantly be putting them into practice for my next networking event, and I hope you find them helpful too.
- Do your homework. As I mentioned previously, I’d done some preliminary research into the presenters prior to the conference but I should have been more thorough. Having a really good handle on who’s presenting what and some back ground on their organisation/research makes it a lot easier to ask questions.
- Ask Questions. I found that either having a question ready or asking for a bit more detail on particular topics from a presentation not only gave me more insight into that presenter. It also allows you to participate and helps with networking. Being recognised for asking good questions gives you a nice icebreaker. Presenters also really appreciate good questions as it lets them talk a bit more about their topic without going over time.
- Get your LinkedIn and other social media presences in order. I’m pretty happy with my digital presence and just about every time I got talking to someone, the way we suggested to make further contact was through LinkedIn. Heading to a conference, you want people to be able to find you online and have a good representation of who you are.
- Networking can be intimidating. Networking is one of the major draw cards for events like this where you are meeting your industry peers and potential collaborators. It can be intimidating, especially for a first timer but it’s a really useful skill and important to be comfortable with it. Getting as much practice as possible before hand is crucial.
I hope you enjoyed my adventures through the Wearable Tech space I had a blast and can’t wait to find out more about this industry and where I can fit myself in.
Until next time.
Ask your questions, support your opinions with evidence, discuss, edify.