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Smart sensing network launched by NSW government


Launched earlier this month, the NSW Smart Sensing Network (NSSN) is a collaboration between the NSW government, universities and industry to research and develop small, smart devices that can be used in applications such as water quality, wearables, biomedical, wildlife and air sensing.

The network’s aim is to eventually commercialise and export the technologies it develops internationally and generate economic benefits for the state. The NSSN will also advise on the engineering, implementation and validation of existing technologies and how they can be best applied.

Currently, the network is working on five major projects:

  • Water quality: Developing methods to sense toxic persistent organic pollutants that have spread from the Williamtown RAAF in ground water using a palm portable device.
  • Wearables: Developing low-cost optical fiber sensors which could be integrated into the existing fabric of garments to monitor the activity of different parts of the human body in athletes and immobile patients, and developing paper-based sensors that can warn people when they are receiving too much UV radiation.
  • Biomedical: Finding applications in sensors that people can use for detecting proteins and other analytes.
  • Wildlife: Developing capabilities in a range of environmental and field-based sensing techniques to monitor ecological species. For example, sound and image sensors are being built to monitor native species like koalas that have been deemed “under siege” by the National Parks Association.
  • Air sensing: Researching a variety of photonics techniques to sense gases and particles in the atmosphere, particularly in relation to transport corridors and coal mines. Sensors will be tested in the next few weeks along the railway corridor in the lower Hunter Valley.


The NSSN also aims to build a device the size of a thumbnail with an optical network integrated in it.

In a comment to ZDNet, NSSN co-director Benjamin Eggleton said: “[We want to develop] lasers, detectors, and optical componentry that are so small that they can be integrated into your smartphone seamlessly.

“…The iPhone 9 I’m imagining will have smart sensors that detect air quality, disease, and so forth. That’s a really exciting vision that really is going to transform the world.”

Thus far, almost AU$1 million has been invested into the NSSN, comprising funds from the government, University of Sydney and University of New South Wales. The NSW government intends to provide additional funding to the NSSN, while launching another two networks for cyber security and defence technology.

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