5 things you need to know in Australian tech today

Bill’s excited! Photo: Mark Wilson/ Getty Images.

Good morning. Here’s what you need to know.

1. Telstra and NAB are launching an online business bartering site. One of the world’s oldest trading methods, bartering, is getting a digital era makeover thanks to two corporate giants. The innovation labs at Telstra and NAB have combined to launch a joint venture online marketplace for SMEs.

Named, Proquo (as in Quid…), it’s much like the ’90s system Bartercard, and allows subscribers to trade services in a barter exchange deal or for cash. Proquo will clip the ticket on any deals between two businesses in the marketplace. Like other trading sites, it lets SMEs offer a brief, quote, swap, manage payments and review each other after the deal is done. Simon Thomsen has more.

2. Tips to up the ante on your social media game. We spoke to Jim Squires, a former Facebook and Yahoo exec, now at Instagram, to find out what tips he had for businesses to help them win at social media. Squires said it was important to “think through to the end user experience and mindset of people in the community”. Here’s his explanation on how to do that. The discussion follows the launch of Instagram Business Tools yesterday.

3. A team of researchers and engineers at Melbourne University have accomplish what has been likened to machine telepathy. The scientists have developed a tiny implant called a stentrode which goes into a blood vessel next to the brain. From there it records a person’s thoughts and feeds the information into a decoding algorithm which results in action.

News.com.au talked to Dr Tom Oxley who is leading the research about how the technology will impact the medical industry, primarily in the treatment of paralysis and epilepsy. Read more here.

4. Here’s how technology is helping to save the koala. We need computational tools to predict how the potential distributions of pest species, disease vectors and threatened species may change with the climate if we are to manage them properly.

Koalas, being warm-blooded like us, keep a very constant body temperature despite changes in their environment. But when it gets too cold, they need to expend extra energy to produce metabolic heat. And in hot weather, they need to lose extra water for evaporative cooling.

We can compute the energy and water costs imposed by the climate at a particular location, accounting for subtle responses koalas have. For example, koalas hug cool tree trunks to lose heat without having to spend water. Read more here.

5. The AI dream is here, but there’s one big problem. Bill Gates and Melinda Gates are excited by the prospect of artificial intelligence technologies but have said the lack of female participation in computer science is a big problem.

Only 17% of computer science graduates today are women, down from a peak of 37%.

“We ought to care more about women being in computer science,” she said. “You need women participating in these things.” Read more here.

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