Wheels on Think Digital bus go round

Wheels on Think Digital bus go round


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Tim Gentle (left), Think Digital, took attendees at the recent Southern Dirt TECHSPO on a journey through the world of virtual reality.

Tim Gentle (left), Think Digital, took attendees at the recent Southern Dirt TECHSPO on a journey through the world of virtual reality.

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Tim Gentle is on a mission to travel around Australia to meet people from rural, regional and remote areas and teach them about digital technology.

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WHAT would you do if you won a bus?

Little did he know at the time, but this question would set Tim Gentle, Think Digital, on a path to fulfil his dream of educating Australians about the digital world.

This question was posed as part of a competition on Facebook and Mr Gentle responded by saying he would convert the bus into a classroom and travel through regional and rural Australia and educate people about the digital world.

"I sat for about a month or so and then I got a phone call saying 'Tim...you have won a bus'," Mr Gentle said.

"So I had this bus and then I had to go about putting my idea into action.

"My father is a dairy farmer, so one afternoon he and I got together and we took out all the seats and there was this great space that was left.

"I turned to dad and said 'I reckon this might work' and six weeks later I had a classroom, there was no government funding just hard work."

The bus, which became known as Rocky - the Think Digital coach - was launched at the Broadband for the Bush conference and Mr Gentle set out on a mission to travel around Australia to meet people from rural, regional and remote areas and teach them about digital technology.

"The pinnacle of this was that I ran a workshop on a dairy farm with dairy farmers teaching them how to adopt the digital world into their business," Mr Gentle said.

"Then I got a call from Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA).

"MLA loved the idea and asked if there was any chance the bus could take the paddock to plate virtual reality (VR) experience to Beef Week at Rockhampton, Queensland.

"So I decked it out with 20 headsets and visited schools and community organisations along the way.

"They all put headsets on and got to watch the beef paddock to plate story.

"This was all the start of an amazing experience to travel around Australia and teach people about where food comes from and using immersive technology to do it.

"It led to me developing the lamb paddock to plate story for MLA and not only showing it but also producing it.

"More than 50,000 people have had this experience and we have extended it to showcase such farming practices as shearing, wheat growing and salmon farming."

Mr Gentle related this story to attendees at the recent Southern Dirt TECHSPO and provided a demonstration on where the next big leaps in technology would come from.

He ran the audience through some different forms of technology from 360 degree cameras to virtual and augmented reality.

Mr Gentle said there was some exciting work underway in the virtual reality space with AuctionsPlus.

"We are working on selling livestock in virtual reality," he said.

"At the moment we have set up a demo called the Farm VR Arena.

"This is where you can engage in content in virtual reality and have up to 100 people doing this at the same time.

"The way you buy livestock at the moment is you go to the sale, you go on to AuctionsPlus or you get an agent to buy on your behalf.

"We have created an experience that pulls down existing content from AuctionsPlus.

"You can learn about breeding history, EBVs, watch YouTube video of the animal or view 360 degree photography of the property that animal was bred on.

"We have also developed a life-sized replica of the animal so you can have a look at the bull or ram you are buying - you can learn about it and you can touch it.

"Most importantly, if you like it you can place a bid.

"This is a concept that is underway and Think Digital and AuctionsPlus is looking to develop it over the next year."

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