US Patent number 634,042 was issued in October 1899 for something called the pneumatic carpet renovator. Something like an early vacuum cleaner. It was shortly after this that the United States Commissioner of Patents was purported to say, “Everything that can be invented has been invented” and thus recommended the closure of the US Patents Office. This quote has since proven to be a apocryphal but it does raise an interesting question. At this time it would have been easy to reflect on the industrial revolution in the US and think of that time of innovation and change and think that this was as far as mankind could make it.

When you consider that over 600,000 patents were lodged in the US in 2016, you start to realise that indeed there is still a need for the US Patents Office. Across the world over three million patents were filed with technology companies topping the list. ZTE; Huawei; Qualcomm; Mitsubishi; LG; Hewlett Packard; Intel BOE; Samsung and Sony made up the Top Ten companies in sheer number of patents.

With all of this innovation, how is the information about advancement in technology shared with the rest of the world? When the hard work of the R&D team behind closed doors is rewarded with a successful patent, that intellectual property needs to find its way into an actual product. The greatest product in the world will sit in a warehouse somewhere unless the world gets to find out about it.

That process normally starts with a technology conference somewhere in the world. That has created an entire industry of its own. In a recent column I wrote about the Big Daddy of all consumer conferences – CES – which annually attracts almost 200,000 people with over 4,000 companies showing off their latest products. CES was first held in 1967. Other major events across the world include CeBIT in Germany which was established in 1970 and COMPUTEX in China which started in 1981. CeBIT Australia is our largest event which first started in 2002 and now attracts over 15,000 people. You could be excused for thinking that there are just these few well known conferences but there are over 130 major technology conferences across the world each year. You could spend practically every day of the year attending a conference – in fact you couldn’t possibly make it to every conference that is held.

Most of these conferences are now run by independent organisations but some are still run by a single manufacturer hoping to create some buzz with their latest products (which they typically hold back and launch at a conference). Conference organisers see the event as a convenient way to bring the media and resellers and end-users together at the one event to see what manufacturers have to offer.

There has been a dearth of conferences in regional Australia for many years but that is about to change. Yesterday we saw the launch of – a one day technology conference to be held in Dubbo on 31 July which is being created by the Dubbo Chamber of Commerce to show off tomorrow’s business technology. Orange is not going to miss out with the NSW Regional Technology Expo being held on 22-24 June as a project of the Rotary Club of Orange Daybreak. In both instances the organisers recognised that it its difficult for businesses to attend an event in a capital city or overseas so why not bring the event to the businesses. The population base in regional Australia means that it is unlikely that these regional events will rival a CeBIT or CES in the near future but congratulations to both organising groups for having the vision to show regional business what is possible.

If you have read thus far I would make an assumption that you have an interest in technology so I would encourage you to support these regional organisations and exhibit or attend one of these events.

Mathew Dickerson

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