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Future science at Melbourne Knowledge Week

We meet the local innovators leading the charge towards Melbourne's tech-forward future
Cadet VR Lab at Deakin University for Melbourne Knowledge Week

You know Melbourne as the UNESCO City of Literature and as the world’s most liveable city – but did you know that we’re also making waves in technology? With a program of more than 60 events, Melbourne Knowledge Week shines a light on the locals leading the charge towards Melbourne’s tech-forward future. Below, we speak to two of them.

A beginner's guide to Bitcoin with PK Rasam

PK is a startup advisor and digital currency specialist at Melbourne-based company, BlueChilli

PK, what is Bitcoin?
Bitcoin is just one type of digital currency. Digital currency or digital money enables and allows transactions to happen instantaneously, within and across borders, so long as you are the owner of the digital currency and can prove it.

What is one Bitcoin worth? 
At this time, one Bitcoin is worth AUD $558.39.

How have Melbourne's tech communities embraced Bitcoin?
Melbourne and Australia are very active with this technology. We are noticing a lot of startups in this space who are creating innovative solutions, and there are regular meet-ups in each city for people to exchange ideas. Like any technology, Bitcoin is still relatively new. When the internet was first available, we didn’t know what to do with it; in fact we are still learning how to use it. Quite similarly, Bitcoin is in its early days and we are all trying to grapple with what Bitcoin means to us.

Learn more at Bitcoin and Beyond. Melbourne Business School, 200 Leicester St, Carlton 3053. May 4, 6-8pm. Free. 

A beginner's guide to Virtual Reality with Ben Horan

Ben is director of Deakin University’s Cadet VR Lab, where he explores the possibilities of virtual reality for industries 

Ben, what is virtual reality (VR)?
A computer generated simulation of three-dimensional environments and images that users can interact with. 

What happens at Deakin University’s Cadet VR Lab?
The Cadet VR Lab is a high-end virtual reality cave, where all the walls and floor have been projected onto to create a virtual environment. We’re looking at using cutting-edge virtual reality technology as solutions for industry, academia and the general public. For example, we’re working on a midwifery training suite where we can train students through custom environments and virtual scenarios that might occur in a hospital.

At Melbourne Knowledge Week, we also want to show people how we can use VR across different platforms, so we’ll also show people how VR imagery can be deployed on YouTube and shown on mobile phones, that users can access the technology using the low-cost Google Cardboard viewer.

Can skills taught in VR really translate to real-life situations?
Pilots using flights simulators is a good benchmark, because they’ve been the earliest adopters of VR technology. It’s valuable because if you make a mistake in training, it’s not going to have serious consequences. Currently in a midwifery course, students can only learn in theory or at a residency in a hospital. In our midwifery suite, students will be able to experience a virtual scenario and learn to feel for contractions through a piece of hardware that represents the patient’s abdomen, all in a safe classroom environment.

Learn more at the Virtual Reality Lounge. 1000 Pound Bend, 361 Lonsdale St, Melbourne 3000. May 2-6. Free.

More to explore