In July 2017, six members of the IT Services team visited BT’s Adastral Park in Suffolk, a global research development facility. Adastral Park is a place where world-leading innovation happens and has a vibrant community of like-minded people and dynamic organisations.
After a warm welcome from our BT hosts, we learned about the purpose of Adastral Park, a site formally belonging to the RAF’s Royal Flying Corps Experimental Station, and the Aeroplane and Armament Experimental Establishment. Our hosts explained that more than 700 people from 200 companies are currently working together with BT to develop new products and explore new ways of digital collaboration.
We received a guided tour and visited several ‘zones’ that covered a wide range of areas, including:
- Industry: the increasing use of drones, work undertaken in the oil and gas industries, improvements to access control and the importance of security in the industry;
- Retail: digital signage, stock control, improvements to the users’ experience;
- ‘The home of the future’: Ultra High Definition screens, improved Wi-Fi coverage with new building materials that improve connectivity, Smart Energy usage and improved household security;
- Banking: encryption using Quantum cryptography.
Throughout the tour, we were encouraged to interact with many of the displays including 3D imaging for use in training, handheld devices for chemical analysis, ‘smart’ mirrors and intelligent lights.
We also saw a series of presentations on various initiatives:
- SmartNE: A smart mapping solution that has been integrated with compasses around the Higher Education sector. In addition to indoor and outdoor maps, it provides users with dynamic navigation;
- BT Future Entertainment and Games: BT are envisioning the future of entertainment and gaming, and determining how this should be supported. During London 2012, they developed BTSport and provided a 4K live streaming service
- Security and Network Security: An interesting talk highlighting little thought-about aspects of security. Although encrypted data may pose a little issue if stolen at the moment, could it be vulnerable in the future with new encryption technologies? The team also viewed a demonstration of the software BT use to track cyber threat;
- The Digital Consumer: How humans interact with technology, and why this is important for companies to understand. BT make use of a range of techniques to monitor this, including surveys, data analyses and watching users.
We are very grateful to BT for hosting our visit. It was really enjoyable, thought-provoking and fascinating.
Feedback from our team:
“The day was interesting and thought provoking. It was great to see the influence BT has had in everyday technology and what a wide array of research areas they are involved in.”
“It was interesting to see the work of BT and how much they do beyond telecoms provision. Their use of consumer level technology like Occulus Rift to support their business is similar to how the School of Medicine use webcams to facilitate student training.”
Author: Victoria Davidson-Mayhew