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Telstra's 2014 M2M University Challenge

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From the bionic ear to the black box flight recorder, Australians have a long history of creative inventiveness.

The Telstra M2M University Challenge is a 10 week competition that gives university students a chance to prove they are the next generation of leading Aussie innovators.  Moreover, it is an opportunity for students to change the way people live and work.

Telstra has partnered with some of Australia’s leading universities to challenge undergraduate students to team up and develop a creative and commercially viable machine-2-machine (M2M) solution.

M2M is the next big thing in mobile communications technology. M2M enables the exchange of information not just between people, but between any “thing” that has useful information to share.

The winning multi-discipline team will be awarded:

  • A substantial monetary grant for their university
  • Consultancy services
  • The M2M University Challenge trophy
  • The latest Next G® device each

Just as important, it is an opportunity to get commercial feedback and work alongside a leading Australian company. Enter now to be part of this exciting competition.


Hear Telstra’s Executive Director of Networks welcome you to the Telstra University Challenge: 


What is M2M?  

Machine-2-Machine (M2M) is an exciting and rapidly growing area of telecommunications that is transforming industries. It encapsulates technologies that allow virtually any “thing” to communicate meaningful information - such as locations, measurements, events, etc.

M2M improves productivity, efficiency, customer experiences, generates new revenue streams and drives costs from business operations.

Examples of M2M applications include solutions that allow businesses to track their vehicles and health monitoring devices that allow medical practitioners to remotely monitor and manage their patients. 

To read case studies, industry flyers and to see the interactive M2M town, visit /m2m

M2M is not just another mobile app. M2M is the empowering of machines or “things” by giving them the ability to communicate. While sensors give the machines or “things” the ability to capture important data, a mobile SIM and module enables that information to be communicated to other machines. Analytics converts this data into valuable information, allowing users and businesses to make smarter decisions.

Teams are expected to create an M2M solution that will positively impact people or businesses. The developed applications should be commercially sound, focus on software development and be designed to work efficiently on the Telstra Next G® network.

The possibilities are almost unlimited!


Applications for the 2014 Telstra M2M University Challenge are now open. Apply here.


The Telstra M2M University Challenge is proudly supported by:

Ericsson Ericsson wishes this year’s applicants every success with the Telstra M2M Challenge. It will be through innovative ideas such as yours that the Networked Society is created. The Networked Society is what happens when everything that can benefit from being connected is connected empowering people, transforming industry and society. Take a look at our site for some potential inspiration.
Netgear NETGEAR is proud to be a sponsor of the Telstra M2M University Challenge. As a world leader in advanced mobile communications and networking technology, we're committed to nurturing new ideas and supporting innovation from basements to boardrooms.

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Key Dates

Engagement of Universities & Completion of Applications Monday 2 December 2013 to Friday 7 March 2014
Applications Close Friday 5pm (AEDT), 7 March 2014

Pre-Challenge Preparation & Planning Commences

Four weeks prior to the Telstra M2M Challenge commencing, teams will be provided with the development equipment. Teams should use this lead time to familiarise themselves with the equipment and to begin planning their submission.

Monday, 10 March 2014

Challenge Commences

Monday, 7 April 2014
Challenge Submissions Due Friday 5pm (AEST), 13 June 2014
Announcement of Finalists Monday, 30 June 2014
Finalist Presentations To be confirmed - approximately Monday, 14 July 2014
Telstra Work Experience and Awards Ceremony
To be confirmed – approximately week beginning Monday, 28 July 2014


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Teams are required to develop an innovative M2M solution with the following requirements:

  • A video that demonstrates their innovation (.wmv or .mp4 format)
  • A written submission detailing the innovation (approximately 3,000 words)
  • A one page summary outlining the solution
  • A copy of the source code repository or access to the team's repository

These must be submitted by 5pm (AEST), Friday 13 June 2014. The receipt of your work will be acknowledged via return email.

Please note that the word limits are provided as a guide only. Teams will not be penalized for exceeding the word limit but concise and articulate writing is encouraged.


Submissions will be judged on the following criteria: 


1. Business and Commercial Viability (25%)

    How relevant and practical is the solution?
    How will the solution compete in the market?

 2. Innovation and Scalability (45%) 

    Is the solution unique?
    Is the solution suited for mass production?

 3. Marketability (15%)

     Was there a clearly defined marketing strategy?
     Was the target customer base clearly identified and was the strategy appropriate?

 4. Presentation (15%)

     Was the pitch clear and concise?

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The Kit


Prior to the start of the competition each team will receive an M2M Starter Kit. Each kit will contain a:

  • Raspberry Pi®
  • BigPond® USB 4G – A mobile broadband dongle
  • Telstra SIM Card
  • 8GB SanDisk® SD Card
  • HDMI Cable
  • 5V Micro USB Supply (a standard phone charger will work)

During the University Challenge, Telstra will provide each team with:

  • Next G® network access
  • Access to a Cloud Innovation Centre VMServer for data storage

There are number of readily available accessories that Telstra will not be providing as part of the M2M Starter Kit. If required, it is expected that teams will source these accessories themselves. They include:

  • SD Card Reader
  • Power USB Hub
  • Monitor with HDMI input, keyboard and mouse with USB connectors
  • LAN internet connection

Raspberry Pi®

Raspberry Pi® is a single board computer that is the size of a credit card.

The specifications of the Raspberry Pi®:- 

  • Model B
  • ARM1176JZF-S 700 MHz processor
  • 512 MB RAM
  • Broadcom VideoCore IV (for multimedia processing)
  • A SD card slot for extended memory
  • Ethernet port for internet connectivity
  • USB ports for accessory connections
  • HDMI output for HD viewing

For additional information, please refer to the Raspberry Pi website.

BigPond® USB  4G - Mobile Broadband Dongle> Provide access to Telstra's Next G® network

Telstra SIM Card> The SIM Card operates on Telstra’s Next G® network – Australia’s most reliable mobile network.

8GB SanDisk® SD Card> The Raspberry Pi® board can support an SD card to provide non-volatile storage. An 8GB SD Card should be sufficient for the University Challenge and the supplied cards have the required image on them to support teams following the Getting Started instructions.

Things you need to know

Raspberry Pi® is a trademark of the Raspberry Pi Foundation.
SanDisk® is a trademark of SanDisk Corporation, registered in the United States and other countries.
BigPond® and NextG® are registered trade marks of Telstra Corporation Limited.

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Who's active

Who has their Raspberry Pi up and running?

On the map below, you can see the location of active Raspberry Pi® devices on the Telstra network. The map is generated by collecting location information sent out by your team's Raspberry Pi®. That means if you can see it, then you've set it up correctly!


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General Information:

Q. Why is Telstra running this challenge? 
 The University Challenge is a way for Telstra to encourage young Australians to think innovatively and to create technologies that could change the way people live, work and connect.

Q. How many universities will be taking part in the challenge?
 We have invited all universities across Australia to participate. While the challenge this year is M2M, we are looking at ongoing engagement with universities for future challenges and events. 

Q. Is there a minimum number of participants to a team?
 Yes – there is a maximum of 12 participants to a team. Teams must be multi-disciplinary with participants coming from a number of faculties such as Engineering, IT, Business/Marketing.

Q. Can our university enter more than one team?
 Yes – universities may enter up to three teams.

Q. Can the university supervisor be anyone?
 The supervisor must be a university member of staff. Their role is to assist and simplify contact between Telstra and the university.

Q.  Who owns the Intellectual Property once the University Challenge is complete?
 The University and participating students own the Intellectual Property created by them for the University Challenge. Any material in your submission will be used only for the purpose of assessing your entry. 
Telstra will be providing scripts to get you started on the Raspberry Pi® and dongle. We ask that teams provide fixes for any issues found in these basic starting scripts in a collaborative manner. Telstra will retain the IP rights to these inputs to ensure the starting scripts for next year’s Challenge are optimised.

Q. Can a university apply to the University Challenge before it has finalised who will be in the team?
 Universities will need to have their team in place prior to submitting an application.  The supporting documents and information are student-specific and are required to complete the application process.  

The Prizes

Q. What monetary grant will the winning university receive?
 The winning university will receive a grant of $10,000.

Q. What do you mean by “access to expert consultancy services”?
 The winning team will receive up to three hours of consultancy services to help them further develop their innovation. The services will cover topics such as marketing, engineering and general commercial issues.  Exact services will depend on the winning innovation and be provided at Telstra’s discretion.

Q. Which Next G® device will the winning team get?
 All winning team members will receive the latest Next G® device. This will be dependent on what has been launched prior to the Awards ceremony.

Q. Where will the Awards Ceremony be held?
 The Awards Ceremony will be held in either Sydney or Melbourne. Details will be confirmed closer to the date.

Q. What is involved in the Telstra Work Experience?
A.  On the day of the Awards Ceremony, finalist team captains will be invited to spend the day with a Telstra Subject Matter Expert in their area of expertise. This could be in Engineering, IT, Products or Marketing. This will be followed by the Awards Ceremony where the winning entry will be announced by a member of the Telstra Executive Team.

Q. Will the whole team of finalists be invited to the Awards Ceremony?
 If the finalists are based in the hosting city/state, then the whole team will be invited to attend.  If the finalists are interstate, Telstra will sponsor the team captain and a university representative’s travel and transfers so that they can attend.  Any other finalists who wish to attend will be responsible for funding their own travel and expenses. 


Q.  What support will be given to the students during the challenge?
 Throughout the University Challenge, students will have access to the necessary support through:
- Weekly check-ins with a person from the Telstra graduate program. Each University team will have a Telstra graduate allocated to provide support.
- The Support tab on the Telstra M2M University Challenge website. Students can submit a form with their query.
- GitHub – For sharing collaborative code, this file sharing system/repository may be used by teams (this is not mandatory) to upload and collaborate on code development with users all over the world. 

The Submission

Q.  Is the team restricted in any way regarding what solution they build?
 Innovation is key as is ensuring the solution works effectively on the Telstra Next G® network. 

Q.  Which part of the submission has the most importance when judging?
 In the first round of judging, the video demonstrating the solution is vital because it is the only visual the judges will have when assessing the submission. However, the written submission and summary also need to be clear and concise as these components will be critical in judging against the criteria. For more information, refer to the Judging Criteria tab.

Q. What happens if we cannot make the closing date for the University Challenge?
 No applications or submissions will be accepted past the closing date and time. 

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Need support? Got a question?

We are here to help!

For general information, be sure to read the Information and Judging Criteria tabs. We also have FAQs that may answer your question. Be sure to check these first as they may have been recently updated.

For technical information, check out the content under The Kit, Technical Instructions and FAQ. GitHub is also available to you as a resource for code sharing and collaboration.

If you can’t find what you’re looking for, please email We will respond to your query shortly.

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Equal 1st Place: La Trobe University


Siwit Techathawiekul (Team Captain)
Alice Beckett
Adrian Clark
Aiden Nibali
Michael Jenkins
Eddie Custovic (Faculty Member)

Home Guardian is La Trobe University’s in-home monitoring application for elderly people or people with a disability. It uses non-intrusive motion sensors to detect discrepancies in behaviour and alert health services or family members.


Equal 1st Place: University of Sydney


Jenna Bermeister (Team Captain)
Linus Karsai
Kerrod Williams
Rohan Brooker
Craig Sketchley
Patti Lor
Michael Foley
Shu Bor
Kayla Stevens
Kartik Gupta
Alec Posney
Bob Kummerfeld (Faculty Member)

inGear Tracker is Sydney University’s automated logbook for learner drivers. It’s a ‘black box’ for L-platers that plugs into the car’s cigarette socket and monitors distance driven, acceleration patterns, and weather and road conditions.


3rd Place: University of Wollongong


Jacob Donley (Team Captain)
Luke Angove
Renee Cuda
Matthew Dabin
Adam Debono
Mitchell Just
Charles Morgan
Yukun Wu
Shiwei Zhang
Phillip Ogunbona (Faculty Member)

AutOBD or Automated On-Board Diagnostics is the University of Wollongong’s M2M system that collects data from a car’s on-board diagnostic computer and, via NextG®, sends it to a server – where the data is turned into a report that roadside assistance operators can access.


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2014 teams

In 2014, we have 20 teams from universities across Australia competing in the Telstra M2M University Challenge.


University of Canberra


University of Newcastle

University of NSW

University of Sydney (Team 1)

University of Sydney (Team 2)

University of Technology Sydney

University of Western Sydney

University of Wollongong


Griffith University

Queensland University of Technology


Deakin University

La Trobe University

Monash University

RMIT University (Team 1)

RMIT University (Team 2)

RMIT University (Team 3)

Victoria University 

University of Ballarat


Edith Cowan University

University of Western Australia

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Hugh Bradlow
Chief Technology Officer
Chief Technology Office & Innovation

Prior to joining Telstra in September 1995, Hugh was Professor of Computer Engineering at the University of Wollongong and Professor of Electrical Engineering (Digital Systems) at the University of Cape Town. Professor Bradlow is a graduate in electrical engineering from the University of Cape Town and received a doctorate for research in experimental nuclear physics from the University of Oxford.

He was elected as the joint 2009 Australian Telecommunications Ambassador of the Year. He was also listed in the 2010 Global Telecom Business Power 100 rankings (at number 32) and was named by Smart Company as one of the 12 most influential people in Australian ICT.


Mike Cihra
M2M and Partners

Mike Cihra joined Telstra in September 2008 as Director of Wireless Business Applications and Services. Since mid- 2010, Mike has had the opportunity to lead the company’s Machine-to-Machine (M2M) business within the mobile products team. Prior to joining Telstra, Mike Cihra spent six years at Verizon in New York, building the company’s strategy and product portfolio for wireless applications and partnerships. Before Verizon, Mike Cihra worked at several wireless internet software companies and began his career in financial services at Deloitte in Toronto, Canada.


Mike Wright
Group Managing Director

Mike Wright started his career in Telstra as a graduate engineer, and over the past 30 years has been fortunate to be involved in the enormous evolution of fixed, mobile and data networks – including Network automation and the introduction of Optical transport to the Wireless evolution from Analogue, GSM and CDMA to the completion of the Next G® mobile network in Australia and in Hong Kong and the completion of Telstra’s world class, nationwide LTE/HSPA enabled mobile network.


Charlotte Yarkoni
Executive Director
Chief Technology Office & Innovation

Charlotte joined Telstra in March 2013 to lead the team to build a global applications and platforms growth portfolio. She then co-founded the company’s local innovators and entrepreneurs accelerator program, Muru Digital (muru-D), in October 2013. Charlotte is a veteran of the IT industry and held the position of Senior Vice President at EMC and VMware, leading developers of information infrastructure technology and solutions.

She has an extensive background in cloud-based applications and has held C-level roles in public and private technology firms, including a role as CEO of a high tech start-up company. Charlotte has also worked for AT&T, IBM and Accenture in the USA.