Tech on fire: 5G tech hub launched at business school

Wednesday, 09 November, 2022

Tech on fire: 5G tech hub launched at business school

The Business School at The University of Auckland has officially unleashed a 5G-powered technology hub, Te Ahi Hangarau, powered by Vodafone. The hub is helping to spark innovative ideas by enabling students to harness emerging technologies thanks to financial and technological investment from Vodafone in partnership with Nokia.

At the launch, it was fitting that a pair of voice-activated, 5G-connected robot scissors cut the ceremonial ribbon.

When the magic words, “Alexa, open the technology hub”, were spoken, developer Hayden Moore said a smart home device picked the scissors up, then a message was sent to the internet over Vodafone’s 5G network to the IoT-powered robot scissors; a motor was then activated enabling the scissors to snip the ribbon.

The build, which took around 10 hours, utilised emerging tech including 3D modelling and printing, a custom smart-home routine and lots of testing, Moore said. The unusual ceremony was just a small demonstration of the impact 5G can have.

Before the ribbon-cutting ceremony, Susan Watson, Business School dean, Tony Baird, Vodafone’s Chief Technology Officer and Isabella Bouwer, a commerce student, shared their thoughts on the value of the future-focused tech hub.

Isabella told those gathered that when she put on a VR headset in the hub for the first time, she knew it wouldn’t be her last.

The Bachelor of Commerce student said she was “stoked” to explore the power of the metaverse and VR during her Business School studies.

“Within the Business 202 Future of Work module, we were assigned a task to create a virtual office space using the platform Spatial. Spatial is a software app that enables people to build their own spaces in the metaverse, both for personal and business reasons," she said.

Bouwer believes the clearest way to tell someone about the metaverse is to think about what it isn’t — it’s not a new technology, app, or tool; it’s a way of thinking about combining many technologies to experience how we use tech and interact with it across our lives in an entirely new way.

“It’s likely the metaverse and the utilisation of VR technologies will soon transform the workplace as we know it.”

Along with expansive virtual experiences, Te Ahi Hangarau offers students across the university the chance to utilise 3D-printing technology and the IoT.

“By engaging with these emerging technologies now, our students can develop the skills they need to succeed in the future,” Watson said.

“Te Ahi Hangarau — the Māori name gifted to the tech hub — symbolises our vision for this innovative teaching space. Ahi means fire and hangarau translates to technology. This name encapsulates our goal of empowering our students through technology and helping them to ignite their potential as future change makers.”

Te Ahi Hangarau is already meeting its potential as a hub of inspiration and collaboration — over 800 students have explored the business potential of the metaverse, while students from across campus have participated in a week-long sustainability innovation sprint, and hundreds of students have participated in equipment training — learning about 5G, IoT, VR and more.

Vodafone (soon to be One New Zealand) CTO Tony Baird implored users of Te Ahi Hangarau to build innovation at home in Aotearoa, so instead of having to head to the UK to experience the best in tech, future generations of changemakers can create impact from their own backyard.

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