Imagine booking a hotel room over the web, and getting the door key electronically sent to your mobile phone as you arrive – no frustrating queuing or check in after a long trip. You get to your room, tap the phone on a panel and the air-conditioning and TV channels change to your preferences, and WIFI is automatically set up for your devices.
These are the industry transformations being explored and envisioned by UTS’s u.lab, through its partnership with Commerce in Motion, Australia’s first near field communications (NFC)-only incubator. Together, they aim to explore how near field communications can revolutionise industries such as health care, aged living, entertainment and retail.
u.lab is an emerging platform for innovation projects at UTS drawing on academic expertise from business, engineering, architecture, design and IT, using human-centred and design-led innovation methodologies. This semester graduate students are exploring commercially viable opportunities in an NFC enabled world. Commerce in Motion is providing sponsorship and technology expertise through the ongoing mentorship of founders Patrick Crooks and Mark Jones.
Mark Jones and Patrick Crooks of Commerce in Motion at the u.lab. Picture by Jochen Schweitzer
Co-founder of UTS’s u.lab and Senior Lecturer in the Faculty of Engineering and IT, Dr Wayne Brookes, said, “The ability to tackle real-world problems with a new technology has elevated the program to a new level. Commerce in Motion is leading in the NFC field and their mentorship is invaluable. In turn, u.lab students can help them identify and commercialise potential applications of NFC.”
That’s not as easy as it sounds. Jones highlights one of the main challenges of emerging technologies: “NFC is the type of technology where ideas are like bellybuttons – everybody has one. The bridge between a frivolous idea and a great business is in the design of an elegant solution that meets specific needs. We aim at bridging that gap by combining our experience with u.lab methodologies.”
Brookes agrees that today’s leading technology companies are those who put as much emphasis on the user experience as they focus on building great technologies. “The best technologies are those that customers don’t even know that they are interacting with, and a human-centred approach utilising NFC as an enabler ensures this level of user experience can be achieved,” he said.
Apart from the learning outcomes for UTS students, the partnership hopes to yield further results, including the development of a NFC Futures design approach.
Today (31 October) student teams are revealing their proposals to the public at LauchPad, the bi-annual ideas pitching event at u.lab. The organisers hope that for some of the students this may be the seed for a successful start-up.
Commerce in Motion has demonstrated a deep commitment to NFC innovation through the growth of its own entrepreneurial portfolio, involvement in the Fishburner’s start-up community and the hosting and sponsoring of events such as Australia’s first NFC Hackathon and the u.lab NFC Futures program. Commerce in Motion also hosts a monthly NFC Developers Group Meetup and is publishing two guides on the use of NFC technology.
With the help of innovative companies, NFC can become a growth industry in Australia. “NFC is widely predicted to become a multi-billion dollar industry, responsible for over US $1trillion trade in the next five years,” Jones said.
“Australia is fertile ground with high smart-phone penetration and the wide prevalence of NFC enabled merchant terminals. We encourage industry leaders to participate in the NFC Futures initiative with us so that more Australian businesses can benefit from the transformation that is occurring.”
AT LAUNCH PAD WE MATCH IDEAS WITH OPPORTUNITY. FIVE NEW ENTERPRISES DEVELOPED IN THE U.LAB INCUBATOR WILL BE REVEALED TO THE PUBLIC IN AN INTENSIVE OPEN PITCHING EVENT.
WE INVITE YOU TO JOIN US!
The ABDC has selected UTS for one of three Innovative Practice Trials that it is co-funding with the federal Workplace Innovation Program to promote management education innovation and ultimately Australia’s productivity.
Associate Dean Postgraduate Programs, Associate Professor Chris Burton, said UTS Business School had embarked on an ambitious program of postgraduate educational reform to produce graduates who are innovative problem solvers. She said the UTS Innovative Practice Trial would involve a two-pronged but complementary approach, developing an Integrated Business Consulting subject in collaboration with Fox Business School (Temple University USA) and testing the application of design-led innovation and entrepreneurship in subject development.
“Building on our existing work with Fox Business School we are investigating a model that challenges the dominance of case studies in management education and extends current concepts of ‘live’ case studies and consultancies with industry,” Associate Professor Burton said. “UTS is uniquely introducing project advisers drawn from industry who guide, mentor and work alongside students to solve a complex problem sourced from industry. While the approach is anchored by an academic, industry advisers act as support resources for students and academics.”
Associate Professor Burton said the second strand of the trial was to develop the prototype u.lab approach to innovation and entrepreneurship as a methodology to inform new postgraduate subjects.
“u.lab is an emerging interdisciplinary framework for innovation projects at UTS that is modelled on initiatives like the d.school at Stanford University,” she said. “The u.lab method aims to teach business students user centred problem solving. While it is experimental, it focuses on the idea that innovation occurs between people, not in isolation. “In that environment students use creative and design thinking to develop solutions for industry, government and social organisations.
“Both approaches we are testing work in tandem with industry and have the potential to disrupt the conventions of how business schools are viewed by industry, the education profession and the community. “In piloting the Integrated Business Consulting subject we will consult with global corporations, start-ups and not-for-profits to identify suitable projects for students and businesses to solve. “Under the guidance of project managers and industry advisers, students will be producing professional quality results of real value to the industry partner.
“The overall objective is to develop students who can think and act innovatively and develop entrepreneurial skills based on a rigorous understanding of the conventions of business practice.” Associate Professor Burton said UTS would work closely with the two other Innovative Practice Trial teams – at Swinburne University and RMIT. “Our projects have clear synergies, for example RMIT is trialling interdisciplinary creative approaches in undergraduate subjects,” Associate Professor Burton said. “The ABDC is looking for the three projects to produce a common outcome – a model for the transformation of management education.”
UTS Business School is due to deliver a report on its trial to the ABDC in the middle of 2013.
Check out The SPOKES PEOPLE. A two week calendar, including the Bicycle FIlm festival programme, alongside all new events, markets, races, mayhem and fun in the sun.
The SPOKES PEOPLE present Sydney’s New Bicycle Festival 13/10/12 – 28/10/12.
Thanks a ton to Major Sponsor Onitsuka Tiger and to Supporting Partner MC Cyclery Sydney (mccyclery.com.au). Providers of 2 x Giant Omniums track bikes, mechanics, prizes and more.
Thanks also to our other sponsors for a successful night in 2011, and another coming for 2012.