Top 5 takeaways from London Tech Week

This week has been London Tech Week, and while we couldn’t be there ourselves, all the activity has been live streamed online. So we checked it out, and have pulled together our top 5 highlights that you’ll want to catch up on right now.

Sophia The Robot

On Tuesday, the TechXLR8 headliner was Sophia the Robot, created by Hanson Robotics.

Sophia is Hanson Robotics’ most advanced robot, which has been designed to look human, based on Audrey Hepburn. Hanson Robotics’ designed the look and movement of Sophia, but also built the AI which makes her lifelike with her intelligence.

How advanced is she?

Well, she has given numerous interviews, including this one with Jimmy Fallon and has been lucky enough to meet a number of key decision makers from the banking, insurance, auto manufacturing, property development, media and entertainment industries.

Us Sci-Fi nerds know how giving robots’ intelligence usually sparks the end of human civilisation, but at least Hanson seem to be thinking about the consequences.

“What will be the consequences of these living machines? We have to think of this before they wake.”

5G

What is 5G? What is 2, 3 and 4G?

2, 3, 4 and 5G are mobile communications standards for wireless Internet access. Each change in these standards gives us faster Internet connections, linking us to the information we want quicker.

4G is pretty quick though, so why do we need 5G?

As the volume of data we consumer on our mobiles is ever increasing, the size of that data is also increasing. Marc Allera, the CEO of EE said:

“Our network carries more data in a month now than it did during the whole of 2011.”

EE are focusing on the future and are investing in 5G now. “We cannot progress as a digital economy if we build a network for what people are only using today.”

Marc also described a potential non-personal use too. “With zero latency, could we see a surgeon operate on people in other countries? Maybe.”

5G really seems like it will make the world even smaller and bring people together from communities around the world in an even bigger way, giving humans “the perception of infinite capacity”.

Hyperloop

Wednesday 9am. Not really a time when I’m at my most awake. However, Bibop Gresta from Hyperloop Transportation Technologies really woke me up that day with his talk about Hyperloop.

If you don’t know what Hyperloop is (I didn’t before I saw this) – it’s a new transportation service that moves insanely quickly and costs as much as a bus. The concept was created in 2012 by Elon Musk.

Let me put this into a bit of context.

Later this year, I’m travelling to Australia. While I’m there, I will be flying between Sydney and Melbourne. That takes about 3 or 4 hours. The same journey with Hyperloop will take less than an hour. As it says on their website, “We’re not selling transportation, we’re selling time”. Imagine being able to commute across entire countries or even entire continents at a fraction of the time and cost?

Sounds super futuristic, but as Bibop said: “Hyperloop tech has been considered as far back as the 18th century, this is not a new concept”. He also announced that “Hyperloop travel is in the works right now. We are in negotiations with numerous countries, including the UK.”

This is happening now. While we might not use it for a few years, the technology is here.

“We are building your present.”

Virtual Reality

With VR being the tech buzz word du jour, we’ve been thinking about VR for a while now. One of the problems we anticipate is the cost of the hardware needed to support it. Another is the content. The adoption of high-end headsets such as Oculus Rift and HTC Vive are unlikely to hit mass market potential while they don’t have too much content, due to the price of the hardware.

Companies such as Rockstar and Activision are probably unlikely to create a Grand Theft Auto VR or Call of Duty VR until they know that the money they put behind the game will be recouped in sales.

Speaking on the LeadersIn Tech VR panel, Dominic Collins from Jaunt VR, said:

“It needs to be something like Gogglebox in VR that will make it really take it off.”

But there are lots of other applications for VR too. It can be used for training, designing, and simulation, to name a few.

Colin Sirrett, said that “when you go binocular, and have accurate VR behind it, you can take it into very rapid learning and mentoring on a job.” Shafi Ahmed added, “A lot of doctors don’t cope well when things go wrong when they interact with teams around them. VR can help with this.”

At this stage, the mass market application is more likely to be 360 or VR video, using cheaper headsets such as the Google Cardboard or the Gear VR, until the customer sees real value-for-money in this tech.

Professional Drone Racing

London Tech Week saw the UK’s first professional drone race at Alexandra Palace. Sky Sports has the rights to the Drone Racing League, so we can’t bring you any footage, but check out the trailer for the 2017 season below. Keep your eye out on Sky Sports Mix (available even if you don’t subscribe to Sky Sports), to watch the live action over the next few months.

If you don’t know what drone racing is, it sees pilots driving drones around courses at speeds of up to 90mph using a first-person camera attached to the drone. Take a look at this video of a drone flying around a course at the Miami Dolphins stadium.

For me, I can’t wait to see some more of the spectacular crashes.

The highlights

Here are some more highlights from Day 4 of the event, or go to the London Tech Week YouTube channel to see more from the week.