5 Surprising Australian Technology Innovations

Australia is not typically considered a technology giant. When we think of technology innovation, we probably think about Silicon Valley, modern social media, cryptocurrencies and self-driving cars. But Australia has its own unique history—and future—of changing the world through technology innovation.

1. Full-length feature films. The first full-length feature film, The Story of the Kelly Gang, was shot in Victoria in the early 1900s. In a time when silent films ran for about five minutes, the logistical feat of a film of sixty minutes—requiring a reel more than a kilometre long—was unheard of. Undoubtedly the existence of full length films has had a wide-ranging social and economic impact that still resonates. Today, only 17 minutes of the film survive.

2. WiFi. Wireless Local Area Network (WLAN) is a technology innovation that has completely revolutionised the landscape of how we communicate with one another today, is the result of an Australian invention in 1992. Inventors at the CSIRO studying radioastronomy solved one of the key challenges of the technology industry at the time in the course of their research, leading to the WiFi we all use today.

3. Google Maps. Google Maps is now the most widely-used mapping service in the world. In 2003 Australians Noel Gordon and Stephen Ma, together with Danish brothers Lars and Jens Rasmussen, co-founded a mapping business in Sydney for use in shipping and logistics, which is where Google Maps was born. In 2004, they sold the product to Google.

4. Predicting bushfire spread. In the 2010s a team of CSIRO researchers developed a new framework for modelling bushfires. The fields of geography, ecology and meteorology have come together to predict our notoriously unpredictable fires. Their framework can now be used to create maps showing where bushfires are statistically most likely to arrive. This is a breakthrough for disaster management, and could provide more control over planning evacuations and mitigating risk.

5. Quantum computing components. Australian researchers have been active in the field of quantum computing for years now. Research breakthroughs like new, fast 2-quantum bit gates (2019) and control chips that can operate at near absolute zero (2021) might seem like small steps, but they’re forming fundamental building blocks for quantum computing. They represent big leaps forward for unlocking its enormous potential for our future.

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