Kiwi ingenuity spearheads game-changing 5G tech

Kiwi ingenuity spearheads game-changing 5G tech


 Pioneering 5G tech from New Zealand was recently unveiled in Auckland which experts say could revolutionise a range of industries.

Four businesses, which won a share of Spark’s 5G Starter Fund last year, have spent six months developing prototypes and demonstrated a range of innovative technologies set to redefine eyecare, robotics, and gaming at Spark’s Auckland head office.

The competition awarded four innovative businesses a share of $625,000 plus mentoring and tech support in October last year. It was launched by Spark to help businesses harness the true potential of 5G to move our country forward – whether that be solutions that help take New Zealand towards a more sustainable future or new ideas that revolutionise the way we work and play.

Rocos CEO, David Inggs and Spot the robot dog from Boston Dynamics.


Rocos CEO, David Inggs and Spot the robot dog from Boston Dynamics.

Safety through robots

Rocos, the supreme winner of the competition, highlighted how 5G could be used to operate large-scale robot fleets remotely.

Rocos demonstrated that key properties of 5G will make it possible to automate physical tasks at scale, improving the capability of autonomous missions undertaken by robots, such as scanning and monitoring a construction site or power grid, thereby reducing health and safety risks.

CEO and co-founder, David Inggs, said: “The really critical problem with having robots in the field is to have really secure high-bandwidth low-latency connectivity. This is a fundamental problem that 5G solves.”

oDocs Eye Care, Dr Ben O'Keeffe.


oDocs Eye Care, Dr Ben O’Keeffe.

Remote eyecare

oDocs Eye Care co-founder Dr Ben O’Keeffe, impressed with his 5G-powered remote eye consultation.

O’Keeffe illustrated how Spark’s 5G technology could be harnessed to carry out a retina eye examination of a patient located within 5G coverage in Dunedin Hospital from Spark’s head office in Auckland via a 5G-enabled device attached to a handheld ophthalmoscope.

The technology has the potential to allow a faster referral process that will improve access to specialist eye care in remote areas of New Zealand.

“Our previous limitations meant we really couldn’t provide the service we wanted to for New Zealanders. 5G provides the speed and data capabilities that enable us to enhance our product and make eye care more accessible throughout New Zealand.

“The 5G Starter Fund was a great learning curve for us – we had an idea on how we could improve our service and through Spark 5G we were actually able to work on that and develop a really good product that will help New Zealanders,” he said.

Beyond Studio's VR game Oddball at Spark HQ


Beyond Studio’s VR game Oddball at Spark HQ

Immersive and lag-free multiplayer VR gaming

Wellington-based virtual reality game studio Beyond used Spark’s 5G solution to provide multiple gamers with the ability to join free-roam, virtual reality game Oddball via their 5G mobile phone, opening the location-based VR gaming world to those without a VR headset.

The application is made possible through 5G, which in the future will ensure no players experience any lag and enables both physical VR and mobile players to interact seamlessly and safely together.

“Think big” was the message from co-founder and CEO Jessica Manins when asked if there was any advice she’d give to other Kiwi start-ups looking to enter something similar.

“There are so many opportunities if you allow yourself to be creative, and I think we’re a really creative nation. Brainstorm, try new things, innovate, and push yourself. Don’t just settle for the norm and look to see what’s happening around the world and how you could possibly integrate something into your product.”

Objective Acuity CEO, Adam Podmore.


Objective Acuity CEO, Adam Podmore.

Improved eye-screening for children

Objective Acuity showed how 5G could be used to identify vision problems in kids as early as possible with real-time test results.

CEO Adam Podmore, says 5G technology and the Spark 5G Starter Fund has had a “massive influence” on the company’s suite of software-based vision screening and acuity tests.

“Current vision screening in New Zealand relies on subjective feedback from children which can lead to inaccurate test results, and it requires a fair bit of attention from children.

“What 5G has allowed us to do is make the test much quicker, which has been absolutely fantastic, particularly for the children. We’ve taken a process that’s about 30 seconds per eye, to a much shorter test, which is very exciting.

“It also makes for a much more accurate test because it doesn’t require a verbal response from the child, instead using 4G and 5G enabled technologies to detect vision problems in younger children and can therefore reduce the number of false positives that are referred through the healthcare system.”

Championing New Zealand innovation

Spark’s technology director, Mark Beder says that the starter fund has uncovered some of New Zealand’s most innovative 5G pioneers.

“Each winner is set to make history by being amongst the first in the country to embrace the powerful potential of our 5G network to revolutionise their respective industries.

“From democratising eyecare, developing world-first immersive gaming experiences and taking the manufacturing industry to new, robotic heights, Spark is proud to support these four Kiwi businesses to deliver transformative solutions for New Zealand and New Zealanders.”

Spark hopes the 5G Starter Fund will inspire other purposeful disruptors, innovators and forward-thinking companies to take advantage of its 5G technology.

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