The four winners from Spark's recently contested $625,000 5G Starter Fund are on display in the atrium of the telco's Victoria St West Auckland HQ today (at 167 Victoria St West).
As well their cash prize, the winners got access to Spark's 5G Co-Lab and tech and business support from the telco.
Auckland's Rocos is demonstrating how remote teleoperation and robotic automation can revolutionise industries, including security, energy and construction. Rocus is using Spot, a robot dog created by US company Boston Dynamics, to show how its technology can be used with 5G.
Spot, priced from US$75,000 ($104,000) comes with a ski-rack style rails on its back, where a customer can mount whatever gear they want. The battery lasts around 90 minutes.
A controller, which looks halfway between an Xbox controller and a tablet - can be used to control one of the robot dogs, and to view footage from its front camera at the same time. 5G means more bandwidth and, crucially, virtually no lag with two-way connections.
Robot dogs have been used in slightly menacing contexts, such as walking beside Australian Defence Force soldiers in military drills (the ADF used dogs from Boston Dynamics rival Ghost Robotics) or a deployment with the New York Police Department, which was cut short in April after what the New York Times described as a "fierce backlash". Mayor Bill Mayor Bill de Blasio said he was "glad the digidog was put down. It's creepy, alienating and sends the wrong message to New Yorkers."
Rocos founder David Inggs told the Herald that security is a market for robot dogs. We could see them, say, patrolling carparks at night.
But there are also lots of other uses, he says, from taking photos of gauges in dangerous locations, or carrying sensors to measure the temperature of pipes in the energy sector to work in agritech.
Inggs sees lots more robots from Boston Dynamics and its peers in our future, but says they are more likely to be picking apples than acting as robocops.
2. Wellington game studio Beyond is creating a 'first of its kind' mobile app that makes it possible to live stream a virtual reality game with multiple players in locations across the world and have the ability to join it via a 5G enabled phone, with or without a VR headset.
Spark says this is a world-first, where location-based reality and virtual mobile users can combine when using a 5G device within 5G coverage.
The app is still in development. Co-founder Jessica Manins says it should be ready for release in around six months.
Manins says 5G will tackle lag issues that typically limit VR games from greater adoption.
3. Objective Acuity
Auckland's Objective Acuity has developed a system for remote vision testing via 5G, designed specifically for younger children.
A test takes only about 30 seconds, and involves a child wearing special glasses and watching images on screen, with the system set to detect involuntary reactions to subtle changes.
CEO Adam Podmore says the system is more accurate than a traditional eye-chart test, which includes subjective elements (no verbal responses are required). It's a lot faster and can be administered by someone in a different town.
Dunedin's oDocs has created a system for remote eye exams via 5G. Co-founder Dr Ben O'Keeffe demonstrated how results from an exam of the back of a patient's eye using an Ophthalmoscope could be viewed in real time by a specialist in another city, with AI used for real-time analysis. The company's system also allows consultations by video.
O'Keeffe sees 5G making the bandwidth-intensive remote eye-testing platform available to remote parts of NZ, especially rural areas where people have to travel some distance to see an ophthalmologist.