The Connect Expo and related “Next Big Thing Summit” ran to great acclaim in Melbourne earlier this week.  Business leaders from around the region came to network and to understand how ICT and emerging digital technologies are shaping the future of work and life in general.

At the Expo I saw numerous examples of businesses who are adopting cutting edge technologies such as virtual reality, robotics and the Internet of Things to carve out strongly differentiated market positions.

I attended courtesy of Intel who along with IBM were diamond sponsors of the event.  Intel had a prominent presence with a large stand showcasing both their own products and those of OEM partners such as HP and Lenovo who were displaying equipment with 6th Generation Intel Core vPro processors inside.

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Part way through the day I was asked if I would like to have my head etched in crystal using 3D scanning and laser technology.  Well how could a Gadget Guy refuse a request like that?

The process started when Glen from Intel scanned me with a Lenovo X1 tablet.  The tablet has an Intel Realsense 3D camera which can measure depth and distance built into its rear.

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Using the Sense App Glen was able to render a 3D image of my head and shoulders on the tablet.

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Next, the image was tidied up and sent to a Spark II Crystal Laser Engraving Machine for printing.

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It was the first time I had seen one of these beasts in action and the sight of green lasers sparking and progressively etching my face into a clear block of crystal was astonishing.

These machines have practical uses, such as creating trophies and tourist keepsakes but they are also great for experiential events – apparently football fans queued for several hours at the 2016 Superbowl to get their own 3D etched cube memento.

Here’s a short Instagram video showing the process in Melbourne and the end result.

Hey John, would you like your head laser etched in crystal? Sure thing. #Intel #realsense #connectexpo

A post shared by John Buckley (@bucklesnz) on

Elsewhere at the Expo I spoke with a number of businesses including Australia’s Virtual Reality Ventures who design VR experiences for brands and also the Melbourne arm of One Fat Sheep, the successful Christchurch augmented reality business.

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At the Next Big Thing Summit, Kate Burleigh, Intel’s Managing Director A/NZ delivered a great keynote on business in the age of digital disruption.

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Kate’s presentation painted an inspiring picture of businesses dealing with a “vortex of change” that forces them to be agile and get products to market in “weeks rather than years” and all of this in a security environment where “trust is won in drips but lost in buckets”.

To round things out, special guest Tom Garrison,  General Manager of the Business Client Platforms Division,  took the stage to show how Intel’s 6th Gen processors enable better collaboration through beautiful technology devices such as the HP Elitebook Folio business and the Lenovo X1 Yoga.

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