• 02 APR 13
    • 2

    Telstra Chief’s wish list for a future where even the garbage bins are smart

    Some years ago Australia’s asbestos mining magnate Lang Hancock suggested a good way to dispose of radioactive waste was to make garbage bins out of the stuff – the idea being that the radiation would keep the flies down!

    Not to be outdone by Hancock for great ideas on what to do with garbage bins, Telstra’s current tech boss Dr Hugh Bradlow sees a smart future where even the humble garbage bin will be wi-fi enabled and be able to keep track of what you throw out and send you a replacement shopping list on your smart phone. Its just part of what he calls “immerse technology” where all our varied devices will be able to talk to each other and help direct our lives. Of course this brave new world will also be immersing our descendents in a sea of ever-increasing microwave emissions.

    As for possible health effects, however, Telstra is on to that too – as a silent controlling partner in the Australian RF bioeffects research effort. Some would call that a monumental conflict of interest but others as just a good business move to protect the corporation’s bottom line.

    Don

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    Smart people well connected

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    TECH WAVE

    Dr Bradlow’s predictions: BY 2020, Australians will be have personal digital concierges running their homes, newspaper tablets to roll up and put in their pockets and rubbish bins that create a shopping list when people discard empties.

    At least that is the vision of Telstra’s chief technology officer Dr Hugh Bradlow, who has made a series of digital predictions.

    Dr Bradlow admitted his predictions were speculation but were based on technologies either available today or on their way, like Google’s Glass spectacles, Samsung’s watch and digital wallets.

    ‘‘I can say with almost certainty that any technology that’s going to be around in 2020, I will know about it today.’’

    ‘‘The thing I can never tell is the human behaviour reaction.’’

    Dr Bradlow summed up living in 2020 as the age of ‘‘immersive technology’’ where every device in the home, office, cars and wider environment can speak to each other.

    Electronic communication between people and devices is dramatically increasing. Telstra said there were 50 million connections in Australia between people and devices.

    By 2020, there will be 240 million connections, and by 2030 that figure will rise to 1 trillion.

    Dr Bradlow said that by 2020 Australians would be living in a digital economy with ‘‘sensors that drive smart bodies, smart homes, smart transport and smart environment’’.

    Dr Bradlow said one of the biggest changes in the future will be the way we shop, with Roy Morgan research finding eBay is already Australia’s largest shopping mall.

    ‘‘You’ll walk into a store, tap your phone on a box and it will say you can get that for $3 cheaper online or there’s a store 100 yards down the road that has it for $2 cheaper,’’ he said.

    Dr Bradlow said many of the challenges were less to do with technology and more to do with the way we interact with those technologies and the implications on areas such as privacy.

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