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IT LIFE: Oliver Norton, WRLD CTO

Steve McCaskill is editor of TechWeekEurope and ChannelBiz. He joined as a reporter in 2011 and covers all areas of IT, with a particular interest in telecommunications, mobile and networking, along with sports technology.

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From developing Game Boy games to 3D mapping. Oliver Norton talks us through his career in IT

What is your role and who do you work for?

I’m Chief Technology Officer at WRLD. We provide a mapping platform that enables developers to integrate geo-accurate 3D maps of indoor and outdoor locations into their mobile, web, VR and AR projects.

How long have you been in IT?

Since 1994. My first job out of school was writing games for the Nintendo Game Boy

Oliver Norton_CTO WRLD

What is your most interesting project to date?

I really enjoyed working with one of our clients to build an insanely accurate and beautiful 3D map of Japan, containing every road and building and even incorporating cultural elements such as the Cherry Blossom tree that is synonymous with Japan. The result was stunning.

What is your biggest challenge at the moment?

We’re currently looking for some top talent to join our platform engineering team which can be challenging. Some of our work is quite technically challenging (and hence interesting!) which means we set the bar high when hiring.

What technology were you working with ten years ago?

I was building back end services for Massively Multiplayer Online (MMO) games using C# .NET and Oracle databases. Back then we bought our own server hardware and found a data centre to host it in. Now we just click a button in the AWS console.

What is your favourite technology of all time?

Amazon’s AWS cloud platform. It’s an awesome technology achievement that’s totally changed the way we think about building IT systems. 

How will the Internet of Things affect your organisation?

I think it’s going to have a hugely positive impact on us. As the number of IoT devices increases, making sense of the multitude of data they generate is going be a common pain point for many organisations. A driving force behind our mapping platform is to help businesses visualise that data within the context of location, to form actionable insights. I’m really excited to see how utilising IoT data can be used to improve our day-to-day lives. 

Nintendo Game Boy

What smartphone do you use?

I’m currently using an iPhone 7 but it sat on the shelf for three months before I got around to migrating from my iPhone 6. I’m not sure how much that says about the improvements from iPhone 6 to 7 or how much it says about me!

What three apps could you not live without?

Google Apps Suite, Slack and Spotify – not very hip I know!

What new technology are you most excited for a) your business and b) yourself?

a) I’m really interested to see how reality capture technologies like Google Tango will develop over the next few years. The data coming out of them is pretty dirty right now, but there are some interesting initiatives to extract useful structure from the point clouds they generate. For instance, the ability to break down a 3D scan into individual objects like rooms, corridors, desks and tables. I think this could have big implications for our business over the next few years.

b) Some of the work around co-operative Machine Learning excites me. The idea of humans and artificial intelligence working together to solve problems, making use of their respective strengths and compensating for each other’s weaknesses is very interesting.

If you weren’t doing the job you do now, what would you be doing?

Machine Learning is an interesting field right now and I wouldn’t mind being part of that. It has been great to see it moving out of the lab and delivering real benefits over the past few years. 

  Quiz: What do you know about the Internet of Things?