Artificial intelligence’s future role examined at ConverCon gathering on May 4

ConverCon uncovers the next generation of the internet in a post-mobile app world

ConverCon Dublin Science Gallery My 4thApple’s Siri, Microsoft’s Cortana and Amazon Echo’s Alexa are changing how we interact with technology and now business owners and managers  have a unique opportunity to learn how to survive, grow and increase their market share with the help of experts from Intercom, Google, Facebook, Webio, Microsoft HoloLens and more.

 The landmark ‘ConverCon’ gathering is Dublin’s Science Gallery on  Thursday, May 4, is where the world’s leading software technology companies, designers and business executives get together to figure out the best way of making ‘conversational interfaces’ work in real life for businesses, brands and customers.
The ticketed event gets underway from lunchtime on May 4 and is billed as an absolute must for anyone managing customer experiences or call centres, digital transformation directors, heads of design and anyone who wants to ensure their company is tech fit for a very different future.
Conversational interfaces such as Siri, Cortana and Alexa are transforming everything we do and knowing how to capitalise on their multi functionality is critical for business for the future, according to ConverCon organiser, Paul Sweeney of Webio.

A conversational interface is any user interface that mimics chatting with a real human, he explained. Instead of communicating with a computer on its own inhuman terms – by clicking on icons and entering syntax-specific commands – you interact with it on your terms, by telling it what to do, whether by voice or by text, he added.

“With rapidly evolving technology impacting how we are engaging with each other, now companies must think about how they, in turn, should interact with their customers. Companies need to deliver more engaging, simple and effortless interactions. At the forefront of these changes are conversational interfaces.

 “When we ask Amazon Alexa to put an item on our shopping list, dim the lights or turn the music up or we’re using one of those new chatbots on Facebook messenger to check when a bill is due, we are using conversational interfaces. Many see them as the next generation of the internet in a post-mobile app world.

“The implications of these changes will be profound and the move to new ways of interacting could happen very quickly,” he said.

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Graduate Programme (Ref: 018978)


This role allows the graduate to engage in cutting edge research for commercial partners of TSSG sponsored by Enterprise Ireland and the European Commission. The role provides the opportunity to work on dynamic, state of the art research projects involving international consortia

Job Title:                                                 Graduate (Ref. No. 018978) 
Department:                                           TSSG (
Location:                                                 Waterford
Commencement Date:                          Summer 2017      

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Conversation on AI commerce should be music to tech giants’ ears

Talk is cheap, but security is king in the AI future of conversational commerce.


Eric Robson, research unit manager of data mining and social computing at TSSG. Image: Luke Maxwell

Researchers at TSSG in Waterford are on the case to make artificially intelligent (AI) voice-based commerce tangible and safe.

The speed of the introduction of services such as Apple’s Siri, Microsoft’s Cortana and Amazon Echo’s Alexa makes it easy to forget that the AI future we all dreamed of is actually here.

Yesterday, Gartner fellow and vice-president Tom Austin pointed this paradox out when he said that most of the AI on our smartphones – many of which have been with us for years – are taken for granted.

‘We are seeing cool apps coming out but we have to make sure that we underpin the technology by addressing core security and privacy concerns as well’

And yet, the hottest areas of tech today – AI and machine learning – hold the key to a whole generation of services that will transform our lives forever.

For some, this is already happening. The combination of APIs, the cloud and AI will enable users to simply talk to their phone or Amazon Echo devices and, in a conversational way, ask what their bank balance is like, if they are spending wisely this month, or to order some milk and bread from the nearest Tesco. It is not beyond the realm of possibility for your goods to arrive by drone minutes later. That is the near future.

At present, researchers at TSSG in Waterford are working hard to iron out the kinks from a security and privacy perspective, to enable the compelling AI and voice-based experiences of tomorrow.

TSSG has a track record of building start-ups around evolving technology opportunities. Two years ago, Red Hat acquired TSSG spin-out FeedHenry for €63.5m and recently announced 60 new jobs.

Just this week, TSSG virtual reality (VR) spin-out Immersive VR Education raised €1m to continue to develop breakthrough VR games, including the recreation of historic episodes such as Apollo 11 moon landing and the sinking of the Titanic.

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PhD by Research Position

PhD by Research Position
Telecommunications Software & Systems Group
Waterford Institute of Technology, Ireland

Applications are invited for PhD by Research positions with the Telecommunications Software & Systems Group (TSSG) ( at Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT), Waterford, Ireland. The candidate will work as a member of the TSSG and in particular the Emerging Networks Laboratory.  

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TSSG spin-out Immersive VR Education raises €1m investment

Husband and wife team’s VR start-up aims for the stars.

IVRE Moon Scene

From left: Orla Rimmington, partner, Kernel Capital; Niall McEvoy, senior development adviser, HPSU department at Enterprise Ireland; David Whelan, CEO, Immersive VR Education; Pamela Pim, head of Bank of Ireland Waterford; and Barry Downes, managing partner, Suir Valley Ventures, on the set of the Apollo 11 Experience. Image: Immersive VR Education

Waterford virtual reality (VR) start-up Immersive VR Education, which has recreated historic experiences from Apollo 11 to the Titanic, has raised €1m.

The investment in Immersive VR Education – a previous Start-up of the Week – comes from Bank of Ireland Kernel Capital Venture Funds and Barry Downes’s new Suir Valley Ventures.

‘Virtual reality is such an exciting, new and emerging industry with many new opportunities’

As part of the investment, Downes, former head of Telecoms Software and Systems Group (TSSG) and executive producer on Immersive VR Education’s Apollo 11 VR experience, will join the company as a director.

Moon shot idea gets virtually real

A spin-out from Waterford Institute of Technology’s research-based TSSG, Immersive VR Education’s platform provides VR content that can be used in schools, colleges, universities, research centres and corporate training to teach any subject in a virtual environment. Students can fully immerse themselves in the experience, making hard-to-visualise concepts easy to understand.


Explore the wreckage of Titanic using a submarine. Image: Immersive VR Education

“This investment from Kernel Capital and Suir Valley Ventures will allow us as a company to continue to grow, continue to hire and expand beyond our current capabilities,” said David Whelan, co-founder and CEO of Immersive VR Education.

“Virtual reality is such an exciting, new and emerging industry with many new opportunities.  It’s great to work with such an established institution such as Kernel Capital, with their proven track record of bringing early-stage companies to fruition. We are very lucky to have them on board as partners on this journey to a new, digital, virtual world.”

Last month, the company took home two HTC Viveport Developer Awards, adding to its five other international awards. Immersive VR Education was also recognised for its Engage Platform and Apollo 11 VR, which uses archive footage and audio from NASA to relive the historical moon landing of 1969.

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