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MATLAB Conference Australia & New Zealand 2015

This week’s blogger is Bradley Horton. Bradley is an engineer at MathWorks Australia who works with customers in the education area. He has spent the last 16 years helping clients adopt and implement MathWorks products over a broad range of application areas.

Big, bold and beautiful – these aren’t the typical words you’d use to describe an ordinary seminar. But the Australian and New Zealand MATLAB Conference was far from an ordinary event. It was truly an epic event. It is a unique opportunity for the MATLAB community to network with peers across a range of industries and academia. This year, we had new and existing MATLAB and Simulink users learning about the latest product capabilities, and how these capabilities are being used by their peers to solve real world problems.

  • Big: two countries, six cities, 30+ hours of technical presentations, 500+ delegates.
  • Bold: technical sessions spanning machine learning, deploying data analytics on the web, automatic code generation for embedded control systems and more.
  • Beautiful: guest speakers describing how MATLAB and Simulink have truly accelerated the pace of their production and research projects.

If you missed out on attending this event, here’s how things panned out in Sydney:

Delegates are always excited to see what’s in this year’s goodie bag!

The event kicked off with a fascinating keynote presentation – a review of some of the big technology trends that have, and are, continuing to shape our lives. If there was a single message to come from this, then surely it was about the inevitability of technological change – technologies are fusing together to transform industries, companies, employment and education. To keep pace with this change, you either innovate or you stagnate.

As usual we had some great presentations by our two application engineers. On the MATLAB side David gave a nice summary on some of the standout new features to come from the last few releases. Demos showing the new GUI are always popular, but from my chair the introduction of new Robotics System Toolbox™ was the pick of the bunch.

On the Simulink side, Tiffany did an amazing job at demonstrating how many domains can all be modelled in the one environment. One minute we were seeing how a “clapper” detection system works, the next we were modelling a wind turbine. Some seriously cool stuff.

#GirlsWhoCode – MathWorks presenter Tiffany Liang

During the morning team break the delegates recharged on some caffeine and cakes and mingled around the booths of our partners – a big shout out to:

  • Avnet
  • Beckhoff
  • Dedicated Systems
  • Keysight Technologies
  • STMicroelectronics
  • Xenon

Clifford and the rest of the STMicroelectronics team have clearly attended these events before – they were giving away free ST discovery boards. Looks like a lot of people want to deploy their Simulink models onto these embedded devices. Nice!

The STMicroelectronics booth – always popular with the attendees

There was also a crowd mesmerised by some of the live demos: live 3D scene reconstruction (point cloud) from stereo web cameras, line tracking robots (why is it that an autonomous vehicle programmed by Simulink can be so captivating), live 3D video (anaglyph) from stereo web cameras. The RasperryPi demo also drew some interest especially from the university attendees.

Delegates checking out Daryl’s live 3D scene reconstruction demo

After morning tea we had a fantastic lecture on how MATLAB was used for structural health monitoring of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Thanks to Peter Runcie from NICTA who discussed how the system includes several thousand sensors, distributed data processing, machine learning data analytics, a largescale communications network, web-based user interfaces, and alerting. The system is designed to be applicable to other structures and used by a variety of people including asset managers, inspectors, engineers, and researchers. Very cool stuff and makes me feel a little bit safer each time I drive over the bridge!

Very popular session on Structural Health Monitoring of the Sydney Harbour Bridge

In other cities, we also had some fantastic customer presentations: Alinta Energy, City West Water, Tourism and Events Queensland, Operations Insight, Auckland University of Technology and the Innovative Cardiovascular Engineering and Technology Laboratory all showed their innovative work using MATLAB and Simulink.

By this time, there was some buzz on Twitter with attendees live tweeting about their experiences on the day. Lots of people joining in the fun and sharing their views of the event via social media. #MATLABConference15 was looking very popular that day!

Thanks for the re-Tweet Engineers Australia!

After Peter’s session we had choices. You either stayed in MATLAB land or you joined a queue to ride the Simulink express.

On the MATLAB side we saw some of the new capabilities that MATLAB has for machine learning. Machine learning seems to be the flavour of the moment, everybody seems to want to classify and/or predict something. So what did I learn? I learnt that delegates nod their heads a lot when they see something interesting – it seems the argument that David presented was well received. If you’re new or old to this machine learning caper, you won’t find a better environment for testing different learning techniques.

David discussing machine learning

For the other half of the attendees we saw Tiffany present on our latest capabilities for verification and validation of high integrity systems. If you need to model and generate code for high-integrity systems, you can do so using Model-Based Design. Tiffany showed how to improve model quality via model coverage and design error detection, how to generate embedded code from a controller model and then how to validate the code with back-to-back testing. This was a popular session with a big queue for questions at the end!

And then there was lunch. After some networking, hot food and delicious desserts, there were more choices to make – do I take the BLUE pill and learn about how to build a web site powered by MATLAB, or do I take the RED pill and learn about automatic code generation for embedded control systems. I couldn’t decide so chewed a little on both.

Lots of networking during the lunch break

A new topic for this year was Tiffany’s presentation of automatic code generation for embedded control systems. This is some seriously interesting stuff. She showed how Embedded Coder enables users to generate readable and highly efficient C code from MATLAB or a Simulink or Stateflow model, so generated code can be deployed to various MCU/DSPs. Key takeaway: it contributes to create more complex software with better quality in less time. I like the sound of that.

I skipped the end of this session to catch David’s talk on how to build a web site powered by MATLAB. This seemed to be a popular pick with many of the attendees. We are hearing from a lot of customers that they are looking to create or enhance the value of web-based products they offer by adding analytics that give their customers significant insights into their businesses. David showed how you can develop analytics in MATLAB and deploy them as a standalone or to a cloud or server-based library. Very, very cool!

At the end of the day Xenon Systems drew their lucky door prize draw – a fortunate attendee walked home with a brand new graphics card. A big shout out to the team from Xenon – thanks guys.

Congratulations to the lucky winner!

I’d be remiss not to mention the fantastic venue: The Powerhouse Museum. A number of delegates (and staff!) took the opportunity to check out some of the spectacular exhibits after the conference ended. The steam strains are always a favourite, as well as the Excellence in Engineering exhibition that’s showing right now.

Awesome venue – we’ll be back!

So there you have it folks. That’s my review of what the MATLAB Conference was all about. If you want check out the videos, demos and slides from the presentations, you can do so here.

See you next year.

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