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Smart sensing network to probe pollution, human health, wildlife

1 February 2017
Government launches futuristic tech to tackle major challenges

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

Super smart phone technology

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.

Professor Benjamin Eggleton beside the cleanroom in the Sydney Nanoscience Hub which houses his new laboratories.

Professor Benjamin Eggleton beside the cleanroom in the Sydney Nanoscience Hub, which houses his new laboratories.

The NSW Government-backed network is developing futuristic sensing technologies to tackle major challenges in agriculture, health, security, the environment and industry.

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, with Professor Susan Pond as master of ceremonies.

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. 

The NSSN was announced late last year by the NSW Government.

Key projects include:

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

Vivienne Reiner

Media and PR Adviser (Science, Veterinary Science, Agriculture)