Australians are responsible for some of the world’s best ideas, including WiFi and the black box on flights, but what else are we doing? We talked to three Aussie companies, and find out what Australians need to do to make it in the world of tech.
For the week ending January 25, you’re listening to The Wrap, Australia’s fastest technology roundup, and right now, we’re celebrating being Australian. Australians have done a lot for the world, and while the country may be small, its people have made a big impact with technological progress.
That WiFi you’re using on your phones, your tablets, your TVs and your computers? That was pioneered by Australians at the CSIRO, a government body that has also developed plastic bank notes and extended wear contact lenses.
Aussies also made the black box flight recorder on airplanes, the Cochlear hearing device, ultrasound scanners, electronic pacemakers, and the wine cask.
And while these developments are still in use around the world, many Australians are bringing their new ideas to the world stage. You see it everywhere, but you may not realise it, as some of them are so big, you might just think they came from somewhere else, such as with Canva, a graphic design tool founded in Australia that helps anyone make professional graphics using just their web browser. Canva recently added another Australian tool to its arsenal, and it’s aimed at helping, turn the world of the PowerPoint presentation upside down.
Rob Kawalsky, Canva: What we wanted to do was take advantage of the fact that everyone now has a mobile device in their hand, to turn presentations from being this sort of monologue into a conversation by empowering an audience to get actively involved with what’s happening in front of them.
That’s Rob Kawalsky, who helped bring this ide to the world stage, and it’s not the only new idea making a dent. Queenslander James Fielding is part of a team that built a pair of headphones designed to analyse your hearing and deliver a custom tailored audio experience made just for you.
James Fielding, Audeara: So it came from the need to educate people around the importance of their hearing test and the Audeara headphones were born, an idea from a few doctors who decided to take it upon themselves to make a difference rather than waiting for someone else to do it.
Audeara is one of many Australian gadget makers with a passion for sound. Nura and Nuheara are also building ear-focused headphones, while Australian audio specialists Rode and Audiofly have brought high quality audio gear to the world for years.
And while we don’t have any Australian phone and tablet makers like an Apple or a Samsung, we do have people trying to change the way you experience these sorts of devices, such as Nicholas Smith. His company is Brydge, and it designs high quality keyboards for the iPad that effectively turn that iPad into a MacBook Pro.
Nicholas Smith, Brydge: What we did was create a beautiful aluminium keyboard that really created a perfect sort of MacBook-like experience for the iPad. We see that our devices really have the opportunity to create the perfect primary computing device solution for the iPad and other tablets.
All of these creators have something in common: they brought their ideas to the world stage, and they’re not alone. There are plenty of Australians out there keen to just that. But if you’re not sure where to start, you may want to do just that: start, which was the advice we had from the people we asked.
James Fielding, Audeara: The advice I would give to other scientists or inventors looking to start a new company or develop a new product is to actually do it. And really it boils down to taking it upon yourself to solve the problem, taking it upon yourself to realise that either you have the skills yourself or you can find people who have the skills and give it a go.
That answer comes to you from Audeara’s Dr. James Fielding, and it’s pretty much bang on with what both Brydge’s Nicholas Smith and Canva’s Rob Kawalsky told us.
Nicholas Smith, Brydge: The biggest thing would be just diving in and having a go, but making sure you have the right support around you. You know if you’re humble in your beginnings and take it in a very staged measured approach, but definitely nothing happens overnight.
Rob Kawalsky, Canva: My advice would be to fall in love with the problem you’re trying to solve, rather than what you think is the best way to solve it. You need to be open minded enough to iterate as you go and that’s really really hard. It’s almost impossible when you’re obsessed with your first solution. Your goal is to solve the problem. You should make that your obsession.
When all is said and done, you might just become part Australia’s heritage for innovation, and stand on the world stage with the rest of our worldwide achievements.
Rob Kawalsky, Canva: Australia should be really proud of its history of innovation. WiFi’s completely transformed the way the world connects and consumes information, if you look at Cochlear, it’s literally given people the gift of hearing. All of these inventions are Australian. We have a lot to be proud of.
If you have a great idea and you want to turn it into the next big thing, why wait. The next time you get a day off, start. You never know what will happen.
Our idea was to start The Wrap, and we’re loving it, though we are out of time. So you’ve been listening to The Wrap, Australia’s fastest technology roundup. The Wrap will be back next week for its usual dose of tech in five minutes, but for now, have a brilliant week, and we’ll see you next time on The Wrap. Take care.