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ACS Week In Review: 28 February 2014

Friday, 28 Feb 2014

Smartphone giants want your body

Smartphone makers are fighting for space on your wrist and your head, lucrative real estate for a new wave of high-tech devices if only they can persuade you to wear them.

Manufacturers unleashed a slew of new wearable devices at the world's biggest mobile fair in Barcelona, trying to carve out new revenue sources in developed markets where smartphone sales are slowing.

From smart bracelets that track your fitness to watches and glasses that let you take a call or check text messages and email, these gadgets were the stars of the Mobile World Congress.

Wearable devices first became commercially viable in 2013, said David Sovie, head of electronics and technology at consultancy group Accenture.

"I think 2014 is when you will start to see more mass market, or at least wider adoption of these technologies," he said.

Boeing readies a secure phone that can self-destruct

THE world’s biggest aerospace company is jumping into the business of making high-security smartphones.

Boeing has filed plans this week with the Federal Communications Commission for a smartphone dubbed Boeing Black, which is designed for defence and security customers and won’t be available to average consumers.

The phone is based on a modified version of Google’s Android operating system. It takes Boeing beyond the jumbo jets, fighter planes and satellites for which it is known.

Boeing is being stealthy about marketing the product. Without publicly announcing the phone, the company posted a description on its website. It said the modular construction of the phone’s 5.2-inch-tall body would allow users to attach devices that add such features as advanced location tracking, solar charging, satellite transceivers and biometric sensors.

Real time since ’69 - one bank’s pioneering solution finally finds its problem

Next month ASB bank, the New Zealand subsidiary of Australian giant Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA), will unveil new, tight integration with cloud accounting software provider Xero.

Applications written for Xero will be able to perform online banking directly from within the app, via APIs, without any need to visit the bank’s portal.

When enabled they will, for instance, be able to pay bills directly from within third party apps and authorise these, as ASB’s consumer customers already do, by entering an authorisation code they receive by text message.

ASB’s general manager of commercial and rural banking, Steve Jurkovich, told that ASB went real time very early, in 1969.

The bank's CEO in the 1990s, future CBA chief Ralph Norris, was also a visionary on mobile technology. Jurkovich remembered when he first joined the bank in 1997, Norris picked up a mobile phone and said: “These things are just a credit card with an aerial”.

“That was a long time before people began to think like that,” Jurkovich said.

Weather Bureau farewells CIO

Bureau of Meterology chief information officer Robert Lovery has departed the organisation after more than four years in the job.

Lovery was named the BoM’s CIO in August 2009 to lead 14 programs under the department’s IT efficiency and cost cutting initiatives.

He joined the department from his prior role at the Victorian Environmental Protection Agency, where he had been working as its business systems and application manager.

Lovery’s position as assistant director of information technologies and CIO reports into the deputy director of research and systems, who in turn reports to BoM director of meteorology Rob Vertessy.

The BoM declined to detail Lovery’s next moves.