Smart Sensing Network to probe pollution, human health, wildlife

1 February 2017

A collaboration between the NSW Government, universities and industry is being launched today to further research into small, smart devices to facilitate on-site measurements and remote tracking of health and the environment.

"These breakthroughs could lead to smartphone-sized measuring devices."

Photonic chips using light as a vehicle for communications rather than electronics could be developed to be compatible with smartphones - to measure pollution and test blood.

Just days after London was put on high alert because of UK pollution, network researchers will announce work on smart technologies ranging from mobile phone-enabled air and water sensors to skin patches for monitoring sun exposure and audio recognition for tracking koala populations.

The NSW Smart Sensing Network (NSSN) is being officially launched today at the Australian Institute for Nanoscale Science and Technology (AINST) headquarters, the $150m Sydney Nanoscience Hub. Speakers will include NSW Chief Scientist and Engineer Professor Mary O'Kane and Vice-Chancellors Dr Michael Spence and Professor Ian Jacobs.

The NSSN is led by co-directors Professor Benjamin Eggleton from the University of Sydney's School of Physics and a flagship head at AINST, and UNSW's Professor Justin Gooding from the School of Chemistry.

Key projects for the NSSN include:

  • Air sensing
  • Wildlife
  • Biomedical
  • Wearables
  • Water quality

Sydney's developments in air quality sensors led by Professor Eggleton and Dr Tomonori Hu could address global problems in measuring air pollution.

The spatial-temporal configurations and networking of these new sensors allow air quality monitoring more cheaply, frequently and over smaller distances than previously possible.

With changes to the types of emissions and with more complex chemicals - like nanoparticles - entering our atmosphere, these sorts of breakthroughs are crucial to measure accurately the air Australians breathe.

Currently, the official particle size and gas readings are taken at official monitoring stations, which consist of large shipping containers full of complex equipment. These breakthroughs could lead to smart-phone sized measuring devices.

Project details are on the NSSN website.

Contact: Vivienne Reiner

Phone: 02 9351 2390

Email: 4028263d0138591049252b000b061809230823280713463f31227c0532