Nov 24, 2017 - Artificial intelligence, machine learning and smart data are major themes at next year’s MobileTECH 2018. This is one of New Zealand’s largest agritech events and will see technology leaders from throughout the agricultural, horticultural and forestry sectors gather in Rotorua in late March. The pace of change within the primary sector is continuing to be driven by advances in new digital technologies. While New Zealand has been a world leader in traditional farming systems, it is critical for the sector to maintain and grow productivity through the smart adoption of these new innovations.
“MobileTECH 2018 will continue to be a platform for change and showcase where the industry is headed,” said Ken Wilson, MobileTECH’s programme manager.
“The 2018 programme will feature over 35 speakers covering disruptive topics like the integration of machine learning in health and safety systems, blockchain for secure agricultural transactions and key learnings from the successful rollout of the Internet of Things (IoT) to farms throughout New Zealand.”
Thundermaps uses machine learning algorithms and big data to redefine health and safety in rural locations. OSPRI now use Thundermaps to protect their contractors working on farms. The system tracks millions of data points to ensure, via a mobile app, that the contractor receives relevant real-time hazard warnings no matter how remote the location. Both companies will be presenting at MobileTECH.
Blockchain is set to become the future for payment and supply-chain systems. Australian-based company, AgriDigital, will be on-hand to discuss what this means for the primary industry. AgriDigital delivered the world’s first live settlement of a physical commodity using blockchain technology. The pilot project saw the sale and successful delivery of 23 metric tonnes of wheat to a beef farm in NSW using the blockchain system.
The Internet of Things has moved from being an exciting upcoming technology to one that is delivering real benefits to early adopters throughout the industry. A number of speakers, including network provider Spark Ventures, agritech company ReGen and King Country farmer Lachlan Chapman, will focus on the real-world application of IoTs.
“The MobileTECH 2018 programme will open with the big technology trends and discuss how we can improve investment and collaboration within the agritech community,” said Mr Wilson. “Day two gets hands-on, highlighting practical case studies on the adoption and use of these innovations by primary sector businesses up and down the country.”
MobileTECH 2018 will be running on 27-28 March 2018 in Rotorua, New Zealand. Further details can be found on the event website, www.mobiletech.events.
Nov 23, 2017 - Auckland based network monitoring technology provider Endace has appointed StarLink as its value-added distributor across Europe, Middle East and Africa to promote its network recording and packet capture tools writes Stuart Corner for Computerworld New Zealand. The move to boost is European presence follows Endace announcing in October 2016 a new feature dubbed Provenance, that it said would be needed to enable traders to comply with European Securities and Markets Authority’s (ESMA) upcoming Markets in Financial Instruments Directive II.
The directive requires traders to record all trade data and ensure trade events are accurately time-stamped to within microseconds of Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) along with information about the reliability of the timing source.
StarLink, headquartered in Dubai, is growing rapidly in Europe through its UK based regional headquarters, according to Endace.
“The partnership will see Endace’s technology distributed by StarLink to help businesses mitigate risks from cyber-attacks and better manage the security of their critical network assets,” Endace said.
Endace CEO Stuart Wilson said network packet capture was essential to enable companies to quickly and accurately analyse security events.
“Network security is paramount in today’s connected world, especially given recent high-profile examples of costly hacks and breaches,” he said.
"Partnering with StarLink, with its deep channel relationships in this market, will enable us to extend our reach and continue to accelerate our growth in EMEA.”
Wilson said interest in Endace network recording solutions had increased dramatically as organisations grappled with how to handle breaches, highlighted by the recent Equifax breach, and in light of growing mandatory breach disclosure requirements.
Interest in Endace’s network recording solutions also increased dramatically last year when Wikileaks outed the company for its role in helping several national governments snoop on citizens' data.
Endace in July this year launched EndaceFabric, billed as a centrally managed, network-wide packet capture and recording fabric that, it said “gives network security and network operations teams the definitive, packet-level evidence they need to rapidly investigate, and respond with certainty, to cybersecurity threats and network or application performance issues.”
A year earlier, in July 2016, the company joined the Cisco Solution Partner Program, saying the move would enable it to quickly create and deploy solutions to enhance the capabilities, performance and management of the network to capture value in the ‘Internet of Everything’ (Cisco’s then preferred name for IoT).
Nov 22, 2017 - Kiwi tech companies urged to ‘eat more of their own dog food’ when it comes to selling – Kiwi technology needs to sell itself smarter to realise its full potential to become the country’s largest export industry, according to the latest Market Measures report.
“We don’t face the same environmental constraints of the other two major export sectors –agriculture and tourism – so the potential for tech is virtually limitless,” says Owen Scott, Managing Director of Concentrate Limited, who organise the study along with fellow tech marketing company Swaytech.
“Improving our ability to sell efficiently is one way of unlocking this potential, and ultimately becoming New Zealand’s primary export industry,” says Scott.
Now in its ninth year, Market Measures gathers information about sales and marketing from over 300 New Zealand technology companies, and compares the results to similar data from the USA.
“In the 2017 study we have found that Kiwi companies are over-reliant on company founders and high-value sales people to sell their products and services. More than 46% of companies said a founder was still closely involved in sales, and the average sales person in an export market was paid a base salary almost 50% higher than the typical equivalent US sales person.”
“It’s not a scalable approach to generating export sales – 40% of the surveyed companies reported that productivity was their main problem when it came to managing their sales teams,” says Scott.
Bob Pinchin, Managing Director of Swaytech, says the fact that US companies used on average three times the number of digital sales tools (e.g. email automation, contact intelligence and similar) than their New Zealand counterparts, was evidence they were more focussed on efficiency.
“In the tech industry we call this ‘eating your own dog food’, but our firms are turning their nose up at these tools at the moment.”
“We have talented tech sales people who convert leads at an incredibly high rate, but it’s the volume of sales that is the issue – this productivity challenge is one we have to solve to overtake the other two big export industries,” says Pinchin.
“Our tech sales people are really ‘artists’, talented and creative and able to craft sales, but what we need more of is scientists – people operating within a rigorous system able to produce repeatable, predictable sales results at a lower cost,” says Scott.
Scott says that more than ever before, New Zealand tech companies must be willing to invest in sales and marketing, which has been a constant trend of Market Measures since it began in 2008.
“It ranges from a stable 25% of annual revenue spent on sales and marketing (including salaries and costs) for established companies, through to an aggressive 86% for start-up tech businesses.”
“NZTE works with an increasing number of internationally successful tech companies but as the Market Measures study suggests, some of them – big and small – are forgetting to cover some of the basics that lead to export growth,” says Charles Haddrell, Customer Director at NZTE, the principal sponsor of Market Measures.
“Getting your sales and marketing strategies right isn’t just a nice to have – it’s a must have. We’ve worked with hundreds of companies and know from experience that implementing robust sales processes, developing sales and execution skills, hiring well, and being aware of the technologies to support the sales and marketing functions are vital to being successful overseas,” says Haddrell.
The full Market Measures 2017 report can be downloaded from www.marketmeasures.co.nz at a cost of $375.
Nov 22, 2017 - Auckland University’s Michelle Dickinson and Soul Machines business chief Greg Cross are among top key speakers at the biggest artificial intelligence (AI) event ever to be held in New Zealand next year. New Zealand’s trail-blazing AI event will be held in Auckland on March 28 and will showcase the amazing strides AI has made and is making across the country, New Zealand AI Forum executive director Ben Reid says. “AI is pervading across many walks of Kiwi life and this conference is the place to hear all about the latest in AI. Some New Zealand companies are providing cutting-edge world-first products.
“We’re seeing incredible AI developments on a weekly basis and they are growing. Look at how cool Netsafe has developed the AI tool Re:scam, to stop $12 billion lost globally to phishing scams every year. The recent creation of an AI weapon against scammers is the latest example of New Zealand’s innovative culture at play “AI Forum founding member Chapman Tripp has launched a new AI service for legal due diligence. And then there’s Soul Machine’s Rachel, a digital human avatar who has been created by two-time Oscar winner Mark Sagar, now working for Soul Machines.
“New Zealand’s largest companies – including ANZ, Orion Health and Air New Zealand - are rapidly taking to AI, developing innovative new products and solutions using artificial intelligence to create new approaches to old problems. All the major players in AI around New Zealand will be at the March 28 AI Day conference.”
The conference is being organised by NewZealand.AI and the NZ AI Forum, which is part of the NZTech Alliance, bringing together 14 tech communities, over 500 organisations and more than 100,000 employees to help create a more prosperous New Zealand underpinned by technology.
Reid says New Zealand is seeing so much AI appearing and changing lives and every day activities at a rate that many people cannot comprehend.
“We’ll see traffic lights fitted with artificial intelligence which could spell the end of rush hour queues in our cities. The link between fashion retail and technology is growing with the rampant rise of online shopping and the use of AI technology, which is transforming the way people shop.
“In Britain, national health service (NHS) patients will be assessed by robots under a controversial 111 scheme to use artificial intelligence to ease pressures on accident and emergency units.
“More than one million people will be given access to a free app which means they can consult with a chatbot instead of a real person.
“The speedy birth of AI in New Zealand is happening right across the country. Activity and capability in New Zealand is really gathering momentum on all fronts as the country begins to apply AI and machine learning to technology exports.”
He says the future impacts on the economy and society will be significant, dramatic and disruptive.
| A New Zealand.ai release || November 22, 2017 |||
Nov 21, 2017 - Soul Machines says the humanised AVA will enable customers to get answers to questions direct them to content and enable them to complete transactions. Soul Machines, a spinout from the University of Auckland Bioengineering Institute, is developing digital human interface to Autodesk’s customer assistance chatbot, the Autodesk Virtual Agent, AVA.
Soul Machines says the humanised AVA will enable customers to get answers to questions direct them to content and enable them to complete transactions.
“Soul Machines is advancing AVA’s capabilities, with a digital human face and persona that it literally brings AVA to life using [our] world leading Human Computing Engine (HCE),” the company said.
However to take full advantage of humanoid AVA, Autodesk customers wil need to turn on the video on the phone or computer so AVA can see them,
HCE is described as a virtual nervous system that combines neural networks and biologically inspired models of the human brain that will give AVA “the ability to see and hear as well as sensory systems that enable to recognise and respond emotionally in an incredibly human like way.”
Soul Machines’ CBO Greg Cross said: “Talking to one of our digital humans means you will get the same sort of social responses and non-verbal communication cues as if you were sitting face to face across a table from a real person. It means our customers can deliver highly personalised brand accretive experiences in a way they have not been able to afford to do up till now.”
CEO of Soul Machines Dr Mark Sagar said “[Ava] has a virtual nervous system and all kinds of sensory capabilities so she can respond to the user’s behaviour in real time to facilitate the communication.”
The move, announced Autodesk University, Autodesk’s annual conference in Las Vegas, follows Soul Machines’ announcement in March 2017 that it had developed for the Australian National Disability Insurance Scheme, an online virtual assistant for Australia’s disabled community who “can understand thousands of questions put to her in plain English and respond with clear and simple replies.”
Both Nadia and AVA have been developed from Soul Machines’ Baby-X, billed as “an intelligent, emotionally responsive virtual toddler” created by Sagar and his team in the Auckland Bioengineering Institute and which drew worldwide attention when it was released in 2013, leading to the launch of Soul Machines, in November 2016.
This YouTube video says that Air New Zealand is also looking at using Soul Machines’ virtual humans for customer service, and it shows just how human they are.
Nov 21 2017 - Liberio Riosa is not one to get ahead of himself and he has grown his export business, LZ New Zealand, step-by-step over the past ten years. But he is hugely energised by a new patent the company is about to lodge which, he says, will redefine the maglev industry.
Nov 20 2017 - The biggest and most important international tech conference to be staged in New Zealand will be held in Auckland early next year which may pave the way for faster advances for the Kiwi economy. NZTech chief executive Graeme Muller says changes and tech developments are happening globally at a phenomenal and unprecedented rate. “This year alone we have seen the launch of a self-driving vehicle firm in New Zealand, face-detecting systems to authorise payments, the creation of new solar devices that could create cheap and continuous power and the relentless push to add connectivity to home gadgets.
“As self-driving cars become common in this country, we need to gauge if New Zealand’s is living up to its reputation as a standout digital nation. The Digital Nations 2030 Global Future summit, organised by NZTech and Conferenz bringing together the tech sector and the government, will put the spotlight on Kiwi tech advances.”
The Digital Nations conference on 19 and 20 February 2018 will be a forerunner to the D5 summit to be held later that week in Wellington.
The D5 is a network of the world’s most advanced digital nations, with a shared goal of strengthening the digital economy. It was founded in London in 2014 by the United Kingdom, Estonia, Israel, New Zealand and South Korea.
Among the 10+ international speakers and panellists at the Digital Nation 2030 summit are South African futurist Graeme Codrington, chief executive of TomorrowToday; Singapore’s Sandra Ng, group vice president Asia Pacific, for IDC; Siim Sikkut, Government chief information officer, Estonia; Martin Lundqvist, partner at McKinsey & Co, Sweden; and Shai-lee Spigelman, chief executive of Digital Israel.
Technology, business, social and government leaders from across New Zealand are also on the agenda including Simon Moutter, chief executive, Spark; Carolyn Tremain, chief executive, Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment; IanTaylor, chief executive of Animation Research; Te Aroha Moreehu, general manager for digital transformation, Ngati Whatua Orakei Whai Maia.
Muller says the conference will cover every aspect of how a digital economy is shaping.
His comments come hard on the heels of the 2017 Digital Planet report by the Fletcher School at Tufts University that shows New Zealand is one of the world’s leading digital nations.
“The Digital Nations conference offers a great moment to bring together New Zealand’s digital leaders, with international experts, business leaders, societal change agents and policy makers to envision what New Zealand could look like as a digital nation by 2030, and then agree on investments and policy to help us get there.
“By listening to the plans of other leading nations and then working on what it could mean for New Zealand’s education, health and financial systems, our productive sectors and the society, this should help us move together as a country towards a more prosperous future during a period of profound change.
“NZTech is pleased with the close and proactive partnership with in the Department of Internal Affairs and the Government Chief Digital Office as industry and government work together to prepare New Zealand for a tech focused future.
“New Zealand’s innovation ecosystem and institutional environment are both noted as strengths for New Zealand in the 2017 Digital Planet report and this Digital Nations conference partnership between industry and government is a great example of why we are seen as a leading country,” Muller says.
The Digital Nations conference is expected to attract more than 450 people including D5 Ministers and their delegations, invited international experts and New Zealand digital leaders and influencers representing all sectors.
16 Nov 2017 - For many people, an electric bike makes sense for longer commutes, but it isn't needed for shorter jaunts or recreational rides. As a result, we've seen a number of kits that allow cyclists to temporarily turn their existing bike into an e-bike, by swapping one of its wheels with an electrified one. It's a pretty simple solution, although the Swytch eBike Conversion Kit may be even simpler and easier yet. Most of the electric wheels we've seen have been quite heavy – this is because they contain not only a motor, but also a battery pack and the associated electronics. That extra revolving weight makes them difficult to move if pedalling without electrical assistance, so the bike's original unpowered wheel needs to swapped back in when using the bicycle in non-e-bike mode.
In the case of the Swytch system, though, the supplied front wheel only contains a 36V/250W hub motor. This reportedly leaves it light enough that it can stay on the bike full-time, permanently replacing the bike's regular wheel. The lithium-ion battery and electronics are in a separate power pack that clicks in and out of a handlebar-mounted bracket within just a few seconds.
Electrical cables run from that bracket to the motor, and to brake and pedal sensors. Initially installing all of the permanent hardware is a one-time affair, which is claimed to take about 10 minutes. From there, users just pop the power pack on when they want an e-bike, and pull it off when they don't. The whole Swytch system – including both the permanently-mounted bits and the power pack – weighs...
A control panel in the top of the pack lets riders do things like selecting the amount of electrical assistance, and checking how much power is left. An electronically-limited top speed of 15 mph (24 km/h) is possible in the European version, or 20 mph (32 km/h) for the US/international model. The range sits at either 25 or 50 miles (40 or 80 km), depending on which of two available battery capacities are selected. Charging time is 3-4 hours or 5-6, respectively.
The whole system – including both the permanently-mounted bits and the power pack – weighs 3.9 kg (8.6 lb) with the small battery, or 4.8 kg (10.6 lb) with the big one. By contrast, the lightest all-in-one electric wheel we've seen so far tips the scales at 7 kg (15 lb), with others more in the neighborhood of 9 kg (20 lb).
The Swytch system is currently the subject of an Indiegogo campaign, with pledge levels starting at US$299 for the 25-mile model. The planned retail price is $650. There are also complete bikes available, with the system built in.
15 Nov 2017 - Applications close Friday 24 November for the Rocket Lab Scholarship that was established in 2017 to enable students from the Mahia Peninsula and wider Wairoa District in Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand, to pursue tertiary study in science, technology or engineering disciplines.
The Rocket Lab Scholarship directly supports the community surrounding Rocket Lab’s Launch Complex 1 and is designed to foster continued excellence and innovation amongst New Zealand’s next generation of science, technology and engineering leaders.
| A Rocket Lab initiative || November 15, 2017 |||
14 Nov 2017 - Desktop Metal is a US based company committed to bringing metal 3D printing to engineers and manufacturers, today announced it will begin accepting international pre-orders of its metal 3D printing system, the Studio System™ from companies throughout Asia Pacific. The announcement comes as Desktop Metal is experiencing tremendous interest and demand from manufacturers and strategic partners around the globe.
“Our vision is to make our Desktop Metal 3D printing solutions accessible to engineers and manufacturers around the world,” said Ric Fulop, CEO and co-founder of Desktop Metal. “We plan to begin offering our metal 3D printing technology internationally and will be accelerating production to meet worldwide demand first for our Studio System and later for our Production System. Our partnerships with best-in-class resellers in each of these geographies bring us closer to making metal 3D printing solutions available to all who want to realize the benefits of rapid prototyping and mass production of metal parts. We are excited to see what happens next in manufacturing as we welcome these new countries to our landscape.”
To support its international expansion plans, Desktop Metal has developed strategic partnerships with authorized Desktop Metal international resellers to immediately begin pre-selling its Studio System throughout APAC, including Japan, Taiwan, South Korea, China, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam, India, Australia and New Zealand. To date, the company has partnered with 13 resellers throughout APAC to pre-sell and support its systems. Availability of the Studio System will vary by country. Interested buyers should visit www.desktopmetal.com/international for the complete list of APAC resellers and country-specific information.
About the Studio System The Studio System, which debuted in May 2017, is the first office-friendly metal 3D printing system for rapid prototyping and is 10 times less expensive than existing technology today. The Studio System is a complete platform, including a printer, a debinder, and a sintering furnace that, together, deliver complex and even impossible geometries of metal 3D printed parts right in an engineer’s office or on the shop floor.
To manufacture metal 3D printed parts at scale, Desktop Metal also debuted the only 3D printing system for mass production of high resolution metal parts today, the Production System.
| A Desktop Metal release || November 14, 2017 |||