BT have unveiled a new initiative to encourage innovation in technology. In a glitzy do at the BT Tower in central London, Professor Brian Cox (of Wonders of the Universe fame) mesmerised the assembled tech hacks with tales of hadrons that were large, and an observable universe that was very, very old.
It was the first in a series of “Tower Talks” – and apparently they’ll be more from other speakers soon. The reasons they’re doing it isn’t entirely clear – but it seems they want to boast about BT’s surprisingly large role in tech research and development – they’re the third biggest spender on R&D in the UK.
To be fair – it shouldn’t be all that surprising. It was BT (or the Post Office, who young people may be surprised to know used to run the phone network) who pioneered the first transatlantic phone call, and some of the first computers in the UK.
BT’s Tim Whitley, who runs the R&D operation explained that ideas come from connections… and connections is what they do. So that’s all good then – but what’s on the horizon?
There was lots of talk of testing some super fast new fibre-optic cables – with individual fibres capable of moving 800GB a second. So that’s ever increasing broadband speeds sorted then.
He also spoke about the “big data” phenomenon, which is the current buzzword in the industry – the idea that by mashing up huge datasets you can make things better. The example he gave was a trial they’re involved with in Cambridge, where bin collections are being made smarter. By monitoring how full bins are, collection lorries could be rerouted to make collections more efficient – even more so once real time travel and roadworks data is mashed in too.
There’s no word yet on whether these smart bins will have a direct line to Brussels to tell the EU bureaucrats how much Daily Mail readers aren’t recycling – though privacy concerns will surely be raised if the trial goes ahead.
And to show they’re down with the kidz, BT are curating all of this innovation talk in their Ingenious Tumblr. Personally, I’m hoping that their next innovation will be to figure out how to make customer service not completely maddening.