Evening Conference Speakers

  • David Liu

    David Liu

    David Liu

    Creative Director VR, Viacom

    New York

    As the Creative Director of Virtual Reality at Viacom NEXT (New York), David champions combinatorial creativity, working across storytelling and experiential mediums. He has created AAA and indie games, directed television and film productions, and designed large-scale alternate reality games. His resume includes work at Electronic Arts on The Sims 4, the BBC World Service, Singapore Arts Festival, Ford Motors, and SAP.

    Viacom NEXT creates and produces unique VR experiences for brands such as Paramount Pictures and MTV. Their projects have premiered across festivals and game platforms. Notable highlights include Tyler Hurd’s Chocolate (South by Southwest, Sundance); Smash Party VR (launched Dec 2016 on Steam); and MTV’s Open Your Eyes Tilt Brush VR Art Show (USA Presidential Debates, South by South Lawn). Viacom NEXT is a member company of the MIT Media Lab, NYC Media Lab, and NYU Game Center.

    David has worked in Singapore, Australia, and the United States. He holds a Master’s degree from the Entertainment Technology Center at Carnegie Mellon University.

  • Dr. Adrian Kaehler

    Dr. Adrian Kaehler

    Dr. Adrian Kaehler

    Founder Deep Learning Group

    exVP Magic Leap, Silicon Valley

    Dr. Adrian Kaehler is an independant scientist, adviser, and start-up founder. His current research includes topics in robotics, deep learning, machine learning more generally, statistical modeling and computer vision. Adrian received his Ph.D. in Theoretical Physics from Columbia university in 1998. Adrian has since held positions at Intel Corporation and the Stanford University AI Lab, is an Applied Invention Fellow, and was a member of the winning Stanley race team in the DARPA Grand Challenge. Originally published in 2006, the book Learning OpenCV (O'Reilly Press) serves as an introduction to the library and its use. The book continues to be heavily used by both professionals and students. A second edition of the book is currently available from O'Reilly Media.

    Dr. Kaehler was Vice President of Special Projects at Magic Leap, Inc, a stealth startup company that raised over $1.4Bn in venture funding in the period from 2014 to 2016. Subsequently, Dr. Kaehler left the company in 2016. He is a co-founder of the Silicon Valley Deep Learning Group, and has a wide variety of published papers and patents in physics, electrical engineering, computer science and robotics.

    Presentation topic at Convergence Evening Conference

    Artificial Intelligence The Solution

    "At this time, two very important mega-trends are emerging around the world. On the one hand, the rise of ever more capable AI makes possible the automation of increasingly many jobs and social roles once only possible for human workers. On the other hand, massive shifts in demographics in the industrialized nations, and soon all nations, show a trend toward lower birth rates and longer life spans, leading to aging populations world wide.

    Dr. Kaehler's talk will examine these two mega-trends, considering both the elimination of jobs arising from the rise of AI and the parallel loss of workers arising from demographic shifts, and explore the possibilities for how AI can be the solution to the profound demographic challenges that are coming."

  • Weiging Ngang

    Weiging Ngang

    Weiging Ngang

    Technical Program Manager

    HTC Vive (Taiwan)

    Weiging Ngang is a Product Manager of HTC Vive. He is responsible for VR Eco-system in Asia Pacific, developer partnership management as well as exploring potential business opportunities. Prior to joining VR team, he has rich experience in big data analysis and software architecture and smart devices.

    CNET says: "Vive is the best virtual-reality experience you can have right now, thanks to its motion controls and room-scale tracking. It's the closest thing to having a holodeck in your home."

    Gizmodo.Com says: "The HTC Vive is the most advanced VR system ever sold. Its headset is ridiculously powerful, so you can look around in all directions without a hitch. Its wireless controllers make it easy to interact with objects in the virtual world. Even cooler than all that, the Vive lets you walk around in the experience—which sets it apart from every other VR headset ever made."

  • The Hon. Philip Dalidakis

    The Hon. Philip Dalidakis

    The Hon. Philip Dalidakis

    Guest of Honour

    Minister Small Business, Innovation & Trade (VIC)

    Philip Dalidakis is the Minister for Small Business, Innovation and Trade in the Andrews Labor Government in Victoria. Mr Dalidakis was elected as a member of the Victorian Parliament in November 2014 and was appointed to Cabinet in July 2015.

    Since his Ministerial appointment in 2015, he has worked hard to strengthen Victoria's reputation as a regional tech hub by engaging the local startup community and attracting leading global companies (including Zendesk, GoPro and Slack) to establish a regional presence in Victoria.

    The Minister believes Victoria is well placed to be a leader in cyber security education, research, policy and entrepreneurship. He announced the development of the Oceania Cyber Security Centre (OCSC), which will bring together eight Victorian universities, the Melbourne-based Defence Science Institute, major private sector partners and Oxford University’s world leading Global Cyber Security Capacity Centre (GCSCC) to create a cyber security powerhouse in Victoria. An additional partnership, brokered between the Labor Government and the digital research arm of the CSIRO, Data61, will see them co-locate their lead national cyber security centre with the OCSC.

    Another important part of Mr Dalidakis' portfolio is the delivery of the Labor Government's $60 million startup initiative, LaunchVic, which was created to support the startup ecosystem, drive new ideas and create jobs in Victoria. This new body will invest in core infrastructure, improve access to capital for local startups, advocate on legislation and regulation, as well as engage in local sector events.

  • John MacLeod

    John MacLeod

    John MacLeod


    Watson & IoT Specialist

    John is currently IBM's specialist in the Internet of Things (IoT) both at a business and technical level. With skills in electronics, database management, requirements management and software engineering processes my current focus on the IoT is a natural progression. The opportunity presented by the IoT is only limited by our imagination and ability to communicate it to our clients.

    IBM's new Watson Internet of Things (IoT) is a cognitive system that learns from, and infuses intelligence into the physical world. The Internet of Things refers to the growing range of connected devices that send data across the Internet. IoT, can make life easier for all of us. The Internet of Things is now a reality due to the convergence of several technologies, including wireless communications, micro-electrical systems and of course, the Internet.

    Watson is an exciting technology platform that uses natural language processing and machine learning to derive analytic conclusions from enormous sets of unstructured data. Using these techniques from the academic discipline of Artificial Intelligence (AI), Watson is a highly advanced software system designed to run on a range of IBM’s high performance computing systems.

  • John Sietsma

    John Sietsma

    John Sietsma

    Unity Technologies, Evangelist Australia & New Zealand


    John Sietsma, a software engineer, games developer and educator, combines his long history to help people make the most out of Unity. He has worked on games and Augmented Reality that let people fly planes, play Rugby League, conquer kingdoms, merge the real with the virtual and compose music by waving their arms around! A personal highlight has been teaching new game programmers the skills needed to enter the world of game development.

    Unity Technologies is the creator of Unity, an intuitive and flexible development platform used to make wildly creative and intelligently interactive 3D and 2D content. The "author once, deploy everywhere"​ capability ensures developers can publish to all of the most popular platforms. Unity are VR enthusiasts, their highly optimized rendering pipeline can help you achieve exceptional frame rates. That, and the Unity editor’s rapid iteration capabilities, have already helped to make Unity far and away the most widely used VR development platform. Native support is available for: Microsoft HoloLens, HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, Gear VR, Playstation VR and Google Daydream.

    Unity Technologies boasts a thriving community of over 2 million registered developers including large publishers, indie studios, students and hobbyists. Unity Technologies is headquartered in San Francisco and has offices in Australia, Canada, China, Colombia, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Japan, Korea, Lithuania, Singapore, Sweden, Ukraine, the UK and elsewhere the United States.

  • Ben Moir

    Ben Moir

    Ben Moir

    Director, Snepo FabLab & WearableX

    Sydney & New York

    Ben Moir is the founding member of Snepo Research where for the last 10 years he has used his diverse knowledge to design systems incorporating new hardware technology and software. In 2013 Ben setup Wearable Experiments (We:eX) and heads up the technical development and integration of electronics into garments and accessories.

    Formally trained as an Electrical Engineer, he brings to Snepo a commercial grounding but also likes to roll up his sleeves, taking a hands on approach to design and product development. He leads a team of developers, guiding the architecture and philosophy of the bespoke solutions developed at Snepo. One of Snepo’s key points of difference which Ben Moir built into the DNA of the company is its commitment to research. All Snepo staff members are entitled to spend time researching new projects and technology and approaches.

    Through this practice Snepo stays at the forefront of emerging technology and user behaviour. This research also results in a suite of knowledge and tools which Snepo makes available to its clients and which can be leveraged for future projects.

  • Mandy Nichols

    Mandy Nichols

    Mandy Nichols

    Film & Fashion, 3D Printing

    Sydney & Melbourne

    Mandy is a costume cutter, maker and stylist whose career spans film, TV, theatre & advertising.

    Graduating from NIDA with a Bachelor of Fine Arts (costume) Mandy has worked as a key costume cutter and maker with film credits including  Director Baz Luhrmann’s ‘Australia’ & Academy award & Bafta award winning ‘The Great Gatsby’, ‘The Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawntreader’, 'Xmen Origins: Wolverine' and 'The Wolverine'.

    Recent credits include key Costume cutter for Director Ridley Scott's 'Alien: Covenant', and  7 network & Foxtel  period television series 'A Place to Call Home' and Costume buyer for 'Truth' featuring Cate Blanchett and Robert Redford.

    Mandy has worked extensively in theatre as a costume Supervisor and cutter/maker for Australian theatre companies including Belvoir theatre company, The Bell Shakespeare company and Opera Australia.

    Mandy is the current wardrobe director for Fremantle Media Australia's X-factor and regularly works as a stylist in music and advertising.

    In 2015 Mandy received the Churchill Fellowship & Gilbert Spottiswood fellowship to develop expertise in the traditional and current practices of corsetry and couture womenswear.

    This fellowship has strengthened Mandy's studio practice and has also led to a love of writing and documenting fashion after many hours examining couture garments in the archives of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, the Balenciaga Museum in Spain and private collections viewed in Paris.

    Working on costume for 'Gods of Egypt' Mandy used a mixture of traditional costume and 3D printing, we are excited to hear all about her epxerience.

  • Dr Dagmar Reinhardt

    Dr Dagmar Reinhardt

    Dr Dagmar Reinhardt

    Program Director of the BAE

    Robots in Architecture

    Dagmar Reinhardt is an architect, Program Director of the BAE and robotics research leader at the School of Architecture, Design and Planning, The University of Sydney. Reinhardt has recently chaired the ROB|ARCH2016 Robots in Architecture, Art and Design conference that brought international researchers, industry and practice to Australia (www.http://www.robarch2016.org). Reinhardt's architecture practice reinhardtjung produces building projects, installations, curatorial work, research, publications, lectures and exhibitions in Europe and Australia, has been widely published, and received numerous awards (www.reinhardtjung.de).

    Reinhardt’s work extends architectural performance and performativity towards design research and cross-disciplinary practice with audio-acoustics, and structural engineering, with a focus on engineering the acoustic behaviour of curved geometries through generative design and robotic fabrication, and in choreographing relationships between kinect sensing, fabricated materiality, and body movement. Her work with biome explores the mathematical language shared between scripting, sound/music, digital fabrication, interaction design and architecture (www.biome.cc).

    Presentation topic at Convergence Evening Conference

    "human and robot - design and collaborate"

    Old News: Robotic fabrication technologies change the way we do contemporary design practice, manufacturing and construction. Their high precision, fast reactions, autonomous workflows and independent locomotion provide the ideal combination for mass customisation and profitable business in a context of industry 4.0. But there is more. This talk will expand from current robotic design practice towards human- collaborative work environments of the future, where human bodies and machine intelligence merge.

  • Pradeep Khanna

    Pradeep Khanna

    Pradeep Khanna

    CEO, Global Mindset (GM)

    Sydney President Global VRAR Association

    Pradeep Khanna, is Founder CEO of Sydney based consulting company Global Mindset (GM) focused on leveraging globalisation & digitisation for Learning & Working. He is also the Sydney Chapter President for the global VRAR (Virtual Reality Augmented Reality) Association and ob the Advisory Board for Indiagosolar.in

    He has over 30 years of executive & management experience across a number of industries. Pradeep has been a leader for IBM GBS Australia and New Zealand (A/NZ) leveraging India, China, Philippines, Vietnam, Egypt, Romania, Brazil. He has worked on assignments for IBM, Australian Trade Commission, Optus, Westpac, Qantas, ING, Crompton Greaves and many more organisations.

    He is an Adjunct Professor/Visiting Faculty at number of institutions in Australia, Singapore & India. Pradeep is a speaker at many international conferences. In 2016, Pradeep has presented in Kuala Lumpur, Mumbai, Toronto, Sydney & Singapore & New Delhi.

    Pradeep is a member of Executive Panel of Global Consulting Companies and Open Colleges Industry Advisory Panel. He has studied MBA from AGSM (UNSW), M.Sc, Computer Science from UTS, & B Tech from IIT Delhi

  • Wojciech Wawrzyniak

    Wojciech Wawrzyniak

    Wojciech Wawrzyniak

    Chief Technical Officer


    Wojciech Wawrzyniak has been involved in the design and film making fields for the last two decades. After winning an Australian Design Award in 2002 for the design of a new digital camera system, he went on to contribute his skills to such products as camera fluid heads and load bearing automotive accessories. The one thing all of his projects had in common was the use of cutting edge data gathering and prototyping technologies, which he obviously exploited for his own personal gain in out of work hours.

    Wojciech's career path then took him to managing academic and commercial manufacturing facilities heavily using 3D printing and scanning, where he saw the potential of applying these methods to medicine. This lead to his current position as Chief Technical Officer developing and engineering medical devices and implants using additive manufacturing technologies, as well as servicing multiple other industries with innovative solutions for industrial design challenges.

    Although occupied with manufacturing, Wojciech has never let his love of movies die. He was involved in design and construction of two stereoscopic camera systems for over five years, and has now moved onto the development of a feature length VR film using multiple self designed and manufactured system and tools.

  • Sahil Harriram

    Sahil Harriram

    Sahil Harriram

    CEO / Lead Embedded Engineer

    Elite Robotics

    Sahil is the CEO and Lead Embedded Engineer of Elite Robotics; a start-up from the emerging innovation ecosystem in the greater Newcastle region. In addition to winning UON’s Enterprise Week Pitch Fest, they placed second at DaSH’s pitchfest. Sahil’s role in in the organisation spans from overall business management to designing the embedded system for their robotic solutions.

    He has always been passionate about technology and innovation and this has led him to complete his Honours in Mechatronics Engineering; finishing his thesis on the Software Architectural Design for an autonomous boat used in an international robotics competition (RobotX). Through this project he developed a framework for the embedded applications of advanced algorithms for autonomous vehicle control. 

    Sahil also has experience programming machine learning algorithms for vehicle guidance and probabilistic state estimation algorithms used as part of the vehicle’s navigation system.

    While at the University of Newcastle he completed a semester exchange at the Karl Benz School at Karlsruhe Institute für Technologie. This led him to get involved with UON’s Exchange Student Network where as President he managed a team of 8 students to build a social platform to enable exchange students to interact with domestic students, which helped them win two Campus life awards.

    Sahil Harriram's Presentation Topic at Convergence

    "The rise of open source and its impact on Robotics"

    Open source hardware has only recently become available to the masses. You may have heard of computers such as Arduino and Raspberry Pi but what are they and how will they impact the future of Robotics? Arduino and Raspberry Pi were released in 2011 and 2012 respectively, and since then millions upon millions of these devices have made their way into the hands of hobbyists, entrepreneurs and engineers. This talk explores how open source hardware is mainstreaming embedded systems development and how this will affect the type of robots we will find in our home over the next 5-10 years.

  • Peter Xing

    Peter Xing

    Peter Xing

    Technology & Innovation


    Peter is a Technology & Innovation Manager at KPMG. He has been extensively covering the recent developments in artificial intelligence and its impact on business and the future of humanity. Peter is also the co-founder of Transhumanism Australia, a community that educates and invests in scientific research and technologies which enhance the human biological condition.

  • Dr Tomasz Bednarz

    Dr Tomasz Bednarz

    Dr Tomasz Bednarz

    Team Leader

    CSIRO Data61

    Dr Tomasz Bednarz is a Team Leader at CSIRO's Data61 (Big Data Visualisation and Analytics team). He is also an Associate Professor at the QUT (ARC Centre of Excellence for Mathematical and Statistical Frontiers, http://acems.org.au) and holds Adjunct positions at the University of Sydney (Design Lab) and University of South Australia (School of IT and Math Sciences). He has done his doctorate and masters in computational science area. Over last couple of years at CSIRO he has been involved in wide range of projects in area of immersive visualisation, human-computer interaction, computational imaging and visualisation. He led cloud-based imaging project that received merit Queensland's iAward in 2015 (http://cloudimaging.net.au).

    Dr Tomasz has been leading project Platform for Big Data Analytics and Visual Analytics, connecting data analytics, statistical modelling, image analytics, machine learning, visualisation into one stack of reusable solutions. His broad range of expertise is evidenced by the quality and number of publications, http://www.researcherid.com/rid/A-7376-2011.

    Dr Tomasz chairs IEEE Computer Society Queensland Chapter, chairs Brisbane ACM SIGGRAPH Chapter and leads the Brisbane Khronos Group chapter. He actively promotes use of computational and visualisation techniques for science and research, and art + science methodology.​

    Dr Tomasz will be demonstrating some of his applications for VR in science.

  • David Francis

    David Francis

    David Francis

    Head of Sales APAC

    Zappar & Virtual Method

    Augmented Reality and Virtual Interfaces are David's area of specialisation, finding their best utility, application and monetisation in the real world, without breaking User Experience. David deploys large AR and VR campaigns in Live environments, working with premium global brands. His skills cover AR, VR, Geo-Fencing, BLE proximity, Acoustic Fingerprinting, Haptics, 3D/4D Printing and sensor-based biometrics, frontier technologies.

    Zappar is a clever little app that can see and recognise images and objects in the world around us. Once it sees things it knows, it uses Augmented Reality to make them come to life. AR is just a fancypants way of saying that the app adds things to the camera view that aren’t actually there.

    With Zappar you can turn almost anything into a TV channel, a video game or even one of those social networking sites. Zappar adds a new visual dimension to the world for you to explore.

  • Michael Nasuta

    Michael Nasuta

    Michael Nasuta

    Product Manager,

    Robotics Stryker

    Michael Nasuta is the Robotics Product Manager for Stryker South Pacific and has led the introduction of robotic-arm assisted joint replacement surgery in Australia and New Zealand since 2015.  Prior to this role, he worked as an engineer for Stryker in the US leading teams to develop medical devices for 7 years.  He has a BS in Biomedical Engineering and MS in Industrial Engineering.

    Stryker is one of the world's leading medical technology companies and together with our customers, we are driven to make healthcare better. The Company offers a diverse array of innovative products and services in Orthopaedics, Medical and Surgical, and Neurotechnology and Spine, which help improve patient and hospital outcomes.  Stryker is active in over 100 countries around the world.

    Michael Nasuta's Presentation Topic at Convergence

    “Dr. Roboto: How robotics is transforming orthopaedics”

    Healthcare is a complex and ever changing industry including innovations of technology to assist surgeons improve their patient outcomes. A variety of robotic technologies have been introduced in different surgical fields with the greatest benefit realised in orthopaedic surgery. The Mako robotic arm assisted surgical system provides surgeons with enhanced planning features and robotic-arm assisted execution for total hip, partial and total knee replacement surgery. These advancements have led to the potential for more accurate implant positioning, faster recovery and less pain, fewer complications, and reduced healthcare costs. Michael will discuss how this technology works and why it will transform orthopaedics.

  • Steve Lennon

    Steve Lennon

    Steve Lennon

    Director, Digital Transformation & Data Insights

    Robotics & IoT

    Serving on the CGI Australia leadership team, Steve’s focus is to guide customers in crafting their vision and roadmap for digital transformation. He partners with business and IT leaders, enabling them to achieve their journey to a more profitable and sustainable future. Innovation, leadership alignment, design thinking, cultural change and business strategy are key capabilities Steve brings to the table, backed by the global resources, end-to-end digital services and value-added IP of CGI.

    Steve has been driving the IoT agenda forward at CGI, and in his former global role with Fujitsu, where he acted as a trusted advisor for Fujitsu’s IP owners, engaging with Fujitsu R&D Labs around the world. He has been an active contributor with the IoT Association of Australia since its inception. His role covers the key digital technologies now impacting the business landscape, including IoT, data analytics, Blockchain, AR/MR, robotics, automation and 360˙ customer experience.

    Steve has adapted and evolved his unique perspective through senior investment banking, technology, management consulting, creative agency and executive leadership roles across Australia, the US and Europe.

  • Sammy Pfeiffer

    Sammy Pfeiffer

    Sammy Pfeiffer

    PhD Robotics Engineer

    UTS Magic Lab

    Sammy is a passionate and versatile robotics engineer from the UPC: BarcelonaTech who has been working in robotics as a hobby, as part of his role in the UPC Robotics Club and as part of his previous job at PAL Robotics bringing to life their humanoid platforms. Sammy has worked developing drivers, low level control, navigation, manipulation, perception, robot behaviours, human robot interfaces and many other challenges found during his career.

    He is currently pursuing a PhD at UTS in The Magic Lab following his interests about humanoid robots and the latest technologies.

  • David Soutar

    David Soutar

    David Soutar

    CEO and Co-founder


    With over 2 decades of global technical and commercial experience in smart energy, building automation, mobile technologies and consumer products, David is Wattcost’s steady handed leader positioning its game-changing technology for growth. He has a proven track record in product innovation and delivering rapid scale profitably. This expertise is underpinned by a driving desire to create simple, seamless and adaptable products which consumers love to use.

    Wattcost® is a revolutionary new technology that turns your home and its existing appliances into the smart and safe home of the future today!Wattcost Beacon® meter-to-mobile technology leapfrogs the complexity of inter-connecting incompatible devices or the need to replace expensive appliances to manage your home more effectively. Intelligent contextual messages by major appliance and user location. Personalized messages tell you how, where and when to save money. Get inspired competing for the best energy smart home in your area. Compare and switch to the best supplier* based on your actual use.

  • Kiah Hickson

    Kiah Hickson

    Kiah Hickson

    IoT, Wearbles, Educator


    The spark started at 14, hacking MySpace to out-glitter her friends. Something about the granularity of code would resurface in her 20ʼs.

    After realising her dreams werenʼt being fulfilled and her inability to make animpact, and drawn by the endless possibilities of tech, Kiah quit the corporate world and sold everything she owned to learn code. This knowledge propelled her into a world where making a difference was possible.

    Kiahʼs high impact project is her “Girl on Fire” LED wearables dress, which she uses to inspire young women to learn to code. The dress is also a gateway to Kiahʼs vision of IoT wearables merging with the human body, breaking down disability barriers and access to technology.

    She also teaches code and mentors female high school students, as well as founding Australian startup resource StartFizz.com, leveraging knowledge acquired (sometimes the hard way) through past entrepreneurial projects.

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