Augmented reality's vision for Australian ag

Australia's first agriculture immersive technology conference will be held in Melbourne in early July


Australian agriculture is about to learn what opportunities augmented reality means for it


Just how many opportunities virtual reality has to offer Australian agriculture, and its future farmers, will be explored in Melbourne next month.

Augmented and virtual reality, known as mixed reality, is already being used in a range of settings that have the potential to be applied on-farm, through processing and in retail, and those possible opportunities will be the focus of the inaugural Australian Ag Immersive Technology Conference, which will be held in Melbourne from 10-11 July 2019.

The event is being staged by all 15 Australian Rural Research and Development Corporations. Meat & Livestock Australia's General Manager Research and Innovation Sean Starling, said the event is designed to not only provide insights from end-users in other industries already using the technology, but also to find out how they can potentially help agriculture.

"We want the technology providers and the end-users in the room together so they can see for themselves how this technology works in other industries, and identify the potential uses for it in Australian agriculture," he said.

"This will help us decide if RDCs need to invest in supporting these technologies and if so, what areas should they focus on. After the conference, providers will have the opportunity to access different parts of the agricultural supply chains, and find out so they can see firsthand the potential uses for the technology."

"We want Australian agriculture to be aware of what this technology is and what people are doing with it today, so we're not missing out.

Mr Starling said from the agricultural perspective, augmented reality technology is relatively new and providers will only further develop the technology where demand from end-users is clear.

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The full program of the over 30 conference speakers has been released, and includes Rio Tinto, IBM, Accenture, KPMG, Microsoft, DXC technology and SAAB Australia, just to name a few.

"Rio Tinto will be presenting on how they're using mixed reality to manage mines and mining equipment remotely," Mr Starling said.

"That kind of technology could have the potential to be applied in agriculture where people have remote properties or several farms that need to be monitored, using autonomous or semi-autonomous vehicles.

"SAAB Australia has been working with the military to take data viewing from the computer screen to the field, and creating immersive reality glasses so things can be seen in three-dimension.

"Applying that technology to agriculture could allow producers to put themselves in a different location, out in a paddock with employees or colleagues, and allow them to communicate and interact on a completely different level.

"Immersive technology doesn't have to be a pair of glasses on your head, it can be an app on your phone, and we're already seeing apps being developed in this space.

"We don't know if these potential deployment ideas are achievable today, or are still five years or 10 years away. However, we need to stay ahead of the curve and understand what the opportunities are, how far away are they, and what the RDCs have to do to realise them."

The conference runs from 10-11 July at the Melbourne Exhibition and Conference Centre. For the conference program and for bookings click here.


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