Spark's new innovation studio woos business with test and co-creation facilities

Spark's new innovation studio woos business with test and co-creation facilities

Four zones showcase cutting edge tech based around the internet of things

Spark's new innovation studio focuses on how IoT and other technologies can transform business and service delivery.

Spark's new innovation studio focuses on how IoT and other technologies can transform business and service delivery.

Credit: Supplied

Spark has launched a new innovation studio that will support Kiwi businesses to identify how emerging technologies can help them adapt, transform and grow.

The innovation studio will be a place where businesses can test technology solutions on all networks (4G, 5G, Cat M1, NB IoT, LoRaWAN) and co-create their own solutions alongside technology engineers and experts.

Spark’s IoT Lead Tony Agar said the studio aimed to bridge the gap between understanding and action by demystifying emerging technology and showcasing examples of how it can help solve business challenges.

Spark identified IoT as a future market in its three-year strategy in 2020. 

The company is already in the market with a range of end-to-end solutions and its ambition is to become the New Zealand IoT platform partner of choice by 2023.

“When you consider the challenges we are facing as a nation, from COVID-19 to climate change to lagging productivity, it is clear that technology is going to play an important enabling role in helping us adapt," Agar said.

As one example, research cited by the World Economic Forum has shown digital technology could help cut global carbon emissions by 15 per cent.

“We know New Zealanders and our business community understand the value of digitisation, but often struggle to move from insight to action," Agar said. 

"That is where the innovation studio comes in – it is hands on, practical and collaborative and a place where businesses can learn how to become more productive, resilient and sustainable through technology.”

Customers can get hands-on experiences and access  expert adviceCredit: Supplied
Customers can get hands-on experiences and access expert advice

The studio features four interactive zones that showcase how emerging technology can help key sectors such as agriculture, aquaculture, utilities, transport, logistics, councils, government and health and safety to benefit from the digitisation of their business operations.

The utilities zone has been brought to life by fast growing IoT solutions provider Adroit, which is showcasing its recent innovation in partnership with the local aquaculture industry: a data-buoy nicknamed "Murray" that monitors the quality of water. 

Murray has been deployed to provide real-time feedback on salinity and temperature at the Westpac mussel farm in the Firth of Thames using Spark’s Cat-M1 network.

The smart environments zone explores how installing IoT sensors in urban and rural environments can improve the way utilities and services are operated.

Spark unit Qrious in partnership with Spark and Auckland Transport, has created a pilot for urban street maintenance, integrating data sources from Wynyard smart street IoT devices such as connected bins and lights, into a dashboard. 

Key information can be viewed in augmented reality via a Hololens headset so field workers can easily access critical information.

The emerging tech zone offers a look into the future where IoT and 5G intersect and bring to life solutions people may think are impossible. 

It features immersive 5G powered experiences that cut out the need for travel, intelligent lighting that uses sensors to replicate natural light and energy saving efficiencies, and how Ericsson’s industry 4.0 augmented reality technologies can make autonomous business operations possible, from a drone managed flower farm to an autonomous factory.

Toyota NZ shows how it has harnessed 5G to create an immersive VR experience for customers, bringing thousands of car models and customization options to prospective buyers through a VR headset.

The asset management zone showcases recent developments to IoT asset tracking which is increasingly used to monitor valuable assets and gather insights into how they are being used, enabling optimisation and driving productivity gains.

Spark will showcase a range of usage applications in the innovation studio, from end-to-end fleet management, in partnership with Blackhawk and Digital Matter, to end-to-end asset visibility using RFID tagging via Zebra, with applications for retail, e-commerce, manufacturing, transportation, logistics, healthcare and the public sector. 

Spark selected Amazon Web Services (AWS) as the cloud provider for its new innovation studio.

Nick Walton, managing director for commercial sector at AWS in New Zealand, said working with the Spark innovation studio, the partners hoped to give local businesses a hands-on opportunity to explore the uses and benefits of IoT within AWS' cloud environment, in a way that was easy, accessible and efficient.

The launch comes as Spark lifts the lid on its IT and managed services unit's financials and strategy.

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