Q&A with Future Assembly co-founder and our festival highlights

By Aisha Hillary, Director of Strategy

Everyone loves to be inspired. In life, in our everyday careers and by others who are passionate about what they do.

On the 2nd and 3rd of December the team at Bourne was very excited to go to the emergent tech festival’s second Future Assembly event. We all have a bit of futurists in us and as the website rightly said, we got to ‘experience the future of science and technology’.

Being the curious people we are, we wanted to find out where Future Assembly came from, so we spent five minutes with one of the amazing co-founders Ben Richardson and asked him a few questions.

Our team also collated some of their highlights to share. There were so many interesting stories and highlights, this is a really edited down version. If you fancy knowing any more details then reach out as the team love to share.

Enjoy our musings and we look forward to hopefully seeing you there next year.


A bit about Ben, co-founder Future Assembly…. by Ben.

I have a piece of paper that says I’m an Aerospace Engineer and a portfolio of startup companies and tech projects that I built by teaching myself how to design and code.

During the day I’m the Group Product Manager of a small team (PwC Ventures) inside a big company (PwC) that builds web and mobile products including Airtax, Nifty, and Vault.

Outside of work, I co-founded and run a technology festival called Future Assembly that aims to make high-technology more accessible to non-technical people and industries.

I also have another pet project called All Startups that enables leaders in startup communities to create a custom-branded directory of their startup ecosystem to track it's growth and impact. If you're looking for a tech co-founder,check out this list.

Each week Ben sets aside time dedicated to providing advice to early stage startups, entrepreneurs, and developers. In the startup world this commonly referred to as "Office Hours". Amazing. Click here is you want to grab some time with this inspirational guy.

How did Future Assembly come about?

When we founded Future Assembly, we felt like something was missing but didn’t know what it was. It was frustrating us, so we spent time analysing other technology events and their demographics. We discovered the biggest commonality was that all of these events were focused solely on people that were already involved in the tech scene. Our focus for Future Assembly became to fundamentally change that idea and open our doors to people who may have never attended a tech event before.

Our why is we believe that the rate of adoption and cross-pollination of high-technology into industries and sectors is too low so our why is to make high-technology accessible and understandable to everyone.

What were you excited about most at the event?

I’m personally pretty excited for the life on mars workshop, Solange’s talk on how to launch a satellite, and Opaque’s earthlight VR experience (but, as you can probably tell, I’m very passionate about space).

We have an awesomely curated selection of WorkshopsExhibitors and Speakers. Some late additions include: Soon-Ee (Machine learning speaker), Two Bulls (HoloLens exhibitor), Unreal Engine (VR gaming workshop). So much to see and do.

What are you most excited about in tech innovation?

The shifts in political trade as industries are completely re-written due to new technology. For example Additive manufacturing will allow Australia to profitably transform raw materials into goods meaning our reliance on China to purchase raw materials, so we can buy back goods, will begin to dilute.

Who is doing tech well?

Actually, I think every industry is not harnessing tech enough and positively disrupting enough.

What is the future of Future Assembly?

We see Future Assembly becoming something akin to the world's fair for emerging technology. A globally renowned event that will attract the latest and greatest tech and people from all over the world.

Well Ben, we would like to thank you for Future Assembly as our team learned a lot and you could see there were many inspired, passionate and engaged people at the event. Love it.


Now, we have a wonderful assembly of our team’s highlights below:

Amirul Nasir, UX Designer takeaway on addictive products.

"Anticipation for a reward results in higher dopamine than receiving the reward!"

"Less is not more. More is more."

"The more you receive messages, the more you will want those messages... (on whatsapp)


Via David, UX designer loved Tim Evan's session on “Using design to change the world for the better.”

There is a linear approach to design: Define the problem, think of possible solutions, and pick the best one and then implement. But problems are complex, wicked problems can't really be solved by this linear approach.

Design Thinking is finding the right problem to solve, where the 'design thinkers' put themselves in the following mindsets: be empathetic, think of the possibilities (how can one enact change if they didn't have any constraints?), and iterative (learn, and improve solutions). 

The solutions being delivered aren't bad-aids. They should be on-going solutions - what you deliver today isn't the best thing.

The people who need to approve these projects don't always prioritise this. This human-led approach should be baked business cases, get approval for what they want, and make this approach be a part of the process to get there.


Jon Deragon, Director of User Experience, takes on the overall experience.

Future Assembly was a blast, really gave the team and myself a chance to think outside of our immediate projects and see first hand latest technologies being used in various applications.

Loved the breath of technology on display. In particular, there was a strong presence of virtual reality throughout the conference. For example I had the opportunity to zip up into a space suit and perform a spacewalk around the international space station. The realism of being able to grasp the rails on the outside of the station whilst looking around me with full depth perception and looking down at the earth below was breathtaking. After doing the spacewalk and removing the VR headset you're suddenly back to earth in a flash. 

Many of the talks were fascinating to listen to; my particular favourite was with the founder of Startup Weekend, Andrew Hyde going over how it came about and some of his thoughts around the current state of startups. His event serves as an inspiration and solid learning experience for thousands of people around the world.


Luke Phelan, Web Developer, takeaways from joining in on a VR workshop.

I attended a workshop on developing VR games using a games engine called Unreal. Lots of good takeaways here:

  • UI for VR is completely different to a flat screen
  • Developers/designers need to consider that depth perception is different to in reality
  • Need to consider ways to prevent motion sickness - you should allow the user to control all their motion
  • This can also affect the believability of the experience
  • Usability testing in VR is tricky because most people are trying VR for the first time and will provide more positive feedback, simply because they are having a novel experience, so it is best to test with people who have used VR before
  • All sorts of new user behaviour is emerging (emergent behaviour): people try things like hitting grenades with their gun or using box lids as shields; things the developer never considered that they then need to implement, as the user can do far more than in standard games
  • In general, VR is very new and the user experience still requires a lot of research!


Dani Natividad, UX Designer's gold nuggets.

How will neuroscience change the 22nd century?

  • By considering neuroscience and it's relationship to future tech, we could potentially repair sense for those who have debilitating spinal injuries, through the use of smaller processors implanted in patient's nervous system.

Invent new ways of navigating in VR

  • UX design salaries have increased an average of 17% in the past year (!)
  • One of the challenges of emerging VR technologies is getting designers to move away from instinctually designing for a single screen or view, and take into account other factors (such as sound, touch, depth and temperature) that will enhance experiences.

A future conversation

  • 40% of Forbes' list of most successful companies will no longer exist in 10 years.

What is the future of computing in the 21st century?

  • There is a huge potential for Internet of Things to address urgent health needs within society. This will likely be the trajectory for the 21st century.
  • Computers are on the way to surpassing human processing power, however this cannot be achieved by classical computing, mainly due to the massive power consumption it takes to perform basic human thought processes.

How to make your product addictive?

  • Make a conscious effort to make your users act unconsciously.
  • Your product must have a reward, and this reward must entail a sense of anticipation (whether this is social, gamified, etc). This anticipation and random repetition of a reward keeps users coming back to your product.

How engineering, design and business can learn from each other

  • Address biggest constraints first. Without doing so, and by addressing less important constraints, you are not actually improving the situation, but rather prolonging the problem and making it more expensive.

Finally, some highlights from me, Aisha Hillary, Director of Strategy

The evolution of Neuroscience

  • Over the next 50 years there will be many more examples of neuro-regeneration.
  • Research is regenerating connections in animals that have been permanently damaged in the past. By creating artificial messages from the brain to cause an action or movement, advancements have been made that can now messages also cause the body to feel a sensation such as touch. 

The future of work

  • Businesses are onshoring again - efficiencies in technology, automation and machine learning, are helping business such as Adidas and Ford bring back workforces onshore.
  • There is a new challenge - excessive numbers of people chasing single entry-level jobs.
  • Remote working – there is a perception that when employees are remote they are disconnected however tools such as Slack there is more transparency and the ability to connect with people you normally would not through the day to day banters across all offices, is bridging this gap.
  • There is a growing movement where people want more flex in ways of working.
  • Technology enables businesses to reach a larger pool of talent who need more flexibility in their roles such as mums who need to pick up kids.
  • Talent agility importance is growing as roles are evolving rapidly. Corporates are valuing this more and more as know that current roles may not exist in 10 years. Need their employees to evolve as the roles evolve.
  • 2020 - 30% staff flexible - ASX top 100 survey - Expert 360.
  • Tech facilitates job creation just as much as destruction - led by consumer demand.
  • There are increasing invisible challenges – such as developing new leaders in this changing environment and keeping a pipeline of leaders in the business.
  • ‘Male, pale and stale’ - ageing leaders are becoming a major issue
  • Need to educate firms on flexible working and job share - talent movement is going to be an important way of working in the future
  • Growth of the project based economy - online professional profiles and self learning - it is your responsibility in your career to keep learning in your everyday to remain relevant – empower yourself - iTunes you is a great example.
  • Automated entry level tasks - tech destroying mid-skill tasks - knowledge based hollowing out - multiple speed economy.

Building a culture - Envato

  • Great questions to discover if someone is the right fit for your business culture – how comfortable are you with ambiguity? What do you stand for? Job advert - what's wrong with this ad / design? Why will you make a difference?
  • See all the possibilities in a situation - not the challenges.
  • Life is about being fun - you go to your work everyday - we eat cake on birthdays.

Future payments

  • Always ask – what is the one thing you want from the experience. For example when buying a coffee, it is ultimately drinking your coffee. Look at how you can use technology to facilitate this and simplify the experience.
  • Clever innovations delivering easy customer experiences.
  • Encountered commerce - rather than go to the place of transaction - it happens within your environment.
  • Fantastic device called the Amazing Amazon Dash - a button that you place on an appliance that allows you to make orders when stock is low. However there is friction - you still have to source button, recognise when stock is low and push the button. When this is all automated and embedded into everyday it will disrupt our behaviour forever.
  • WeChat - China messaging platform with over 350billion messages a day / 300 million payment connections - facilitate transactions all in app - evolved the communication tool into an environment which enables transactions and all our everyday requirements.

Andrew Hyde, founder of Startup Weekend

  • Entrepreneurship is a global language
  • Your style is your purpose 
  • You don't launch once, you launch everyday - don't be scared to put it out there
  • Focus on your community
  • How can I help... best statement to use
  • Failure is ok... actually expected - 96% will fail 
  • If having a tough time and taking a risk... say it
  • Time and profitability – important to meet the founders needs - what is the best practice to achieve that - need to be honest with yourself and founders
  • Wherever you like hanging out you should be unflinchingly positive - that's the legacy.

Will Egan “create and think in this world and not consume..."

Future of smartphones

  • 3D and hologram innovations
  • Project Tango next key innovation that mobile will facilitate - Google indoor navigation

Hope that sparked some dopamine. The future looks bright for tech and UX. We are definitely excited for 2017.

If you want to know more or just shoot the breeze email us info@bournedigital.com or reach out to any of the team on our website in the team section.

You can also come and say hi at our next Lunch n’ Learn, all about UX Superheroes on Friday the 13th of February, in our new office 838 Collins Street, Docklands, Melbourne. Register here.

Get excited... it is going to be a fantastic 2017.