What Did we Learn at TEDxSydney 2016?

That we should get ourselves a couple of spoons, for one.

The best days are filled with new ideas. #tedxsydney #ideasthatspread #sydneyoperahouse

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In classic TED style, today’s event at the Sydney Opera House inspired, encouraged innovation and got ideas flowing. Especially when it comes to kitchen utensils.

Here are four things we learnt at TEDxSydney 2016:


It’s time to take VR seriously

Considering that several talks of the day were peppered with mentions of the future of virtual reality technologies, we’re definitely heading into a new phase.

Biomedical engineer Jordan Nguyen touched on the growing influence and potential future of virtual reality. Recalling his recent rediscovery of VR – a far cry from the days when it was essentially “a TV strapped to your face”, Jordan’s experience of the new frontier of VR ignited some truly innovative ways to use the rapidly developing technology.

“I remembered [the experience inside the VR realm] as if it was a memory…” he told the crowd, “[and] it made me realise the power of that technology.”

Later on the day, neurogaming expert Karen Palmer also discussed the power of the same technology in realm of storytelling: virtual reality in her work, for example, means that the narrative arc of gaming and even film can be changed according to your current cognitive function. Imagine: a real-time, choose-your-own-adventure film that reacts to your reactions. Our takeaway? Virtual reality is poised to blow your mind.


There’s promise in the unknown

While we haven’t yet learnt the extent to which certain technologies can change the world, that unexplored territory is exactly where the magic happens when it comes to innovation. As Director of the Quantum Control Laboratory at the University of Sydney Michael J. Biercuk reminded the TEDX Sydney crowd, the small, initially humble outcomes of the internet in the military sphere have way outgrown the original intended usage.

“History has shown us again and again that the most [influential outcomes of technology] are the least anticipated,” he pointed out.

If we can’t even imagine where new technologies will take us, that gap between ‘known’ and ‘unknown’ becomes the perfect breeding ground for something to change the world.


There’s room for any industry to be disrupted

From Ken Hillman’s attempts to revisit the constraints of the palliative care system to Natalie Jeremijenko’s efforts to make human society more mutualistic (metropolitan ziplines and butterfly crossings also featured in this truly out-there, TEDx-style presentation), the range of speakers was proof that there’s always room for another creative reimagining of your industry, no matter how traditional or ‘uncreative’ it seems. Before you decide that there’s nothing left to change, reimagine or rethink in your industry: think again.


Spoons can be played

If nothing else, thanks to the energetic performance of Deb “Spoons” Perry, world champion spoon player, we learnt at TEDxSydney that a couple of spoons can change the way you hear The Black Keys forever… if you use them right.

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