“VIDAR™ - A ground-breaking new technology for digitising moving objects and events in cities that has the range of RADAR and the classifying ability of SONAR, started right here in Australia.”
Sydney, Australia, 1 September 2020 – After 5 years in skunk works development, FiberSense today publicly revealed a ground-breaking new technology called VIDAR™.
An acronym for Vibration Detection and Ranging, VIDAR™ is a new class of wide area sensor system for recording, labelling and visualising objects and events in real-time through the capture and analysis of vibrations which are collected across large geographical grids using fibre optic cables.
Despite only being publicly revealed today, VIDAR™ has already been utilised to protect the critical infrastructure of its development customers across Asia Pacific, including Superloop’s terrestrial fibre networks in Singapore and Australia, Transgrid HV terrestrial assets in Sydney, shore ends of Basslink’s HV undersea power cable between Tasmania and Victoria and front-haul networks of submarine cable operators Southern Cross Cable Networks. These total deployments have already detected, classified and notified over 26,000 events and now operates with a false negative detection rate of 0.011%.
VIDAR™ was conceived by FiberSense’s Founder and CEO, Dr Mark Englund. This new technology is able to use existing telecom fibre assets to detect and capture the minute vibrations given off by nearby objects, which are transmitted to a centralised digital platform. This platform then uses specialised digital signal processing (DSP) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) to digitise, categorise, label and - if necessary - action these vibrations.
The sensing systems and data are concentrated into a real-time digital platform called SuperSoniQ, which is accessible as a cloud service. With the foundations of the SuperSoniQ platform and IP completed over the last 5 years, the company is now focusing our research and development on a few key areas.
The first is expanding the portfolio of asset protection including road infrastructure (vehicle tracking, traffic analysis, crash detection, road work activity logging), water assets (digging activity, leak detection), rail infrastructure (rail asset tracking, level crossing data), undersea power cables (anchor drag events), as well as earthquake event monitoring and high spatial resolution post event analysis. The second is new integrated photonics hardware, AI and a new suite of detection capabilities based on advanced signal processing.
In addition to the R&D, FiberSense is in the process of building an entire digital city grid using VIDAR™, with an emphasis on vehicle tracking. This city-wide grid will be the first in which all vehicles are “digitised” and captured using a VIDAR™ grid to be represented in a dynamic virtual world, in real-time. This technology is a game changer for autonomous vehicles as it will provide the first platform from which all vehicles across an entire city grid can be seen, rather than just the small set of “connected” vehicles as can be seen currently in the V2x or IoT models.
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“When you see substantially all the vehicles in an area in 3rd party there are a long tail of new safety, productivity and efficiency applications that are possible and unlike V2x or IoT, and these are enabled from day one. Our ability to digitise an entire city grid of all movement and events will be a game-changer for how we sense, move through and interact in public spaces. The fact we can do this anonymously by not using cameras, seeing faces or number plates or hearing voices is something we didn’t appreciate early but it is turning out to be a very important advantage in our deployments to date – privacy over VIDAR™ grids is hard wired in from day one.”
Mass camera systems already deployed in some countries are a clear example of where privacy is a difficult problem to solve.
FiberSense has already had deep experience in this space and been developing capabilities such as “blind corner assist” and “traffic monitoring” for three years. “Our focus is to now bring this from a linear view to a meshed grid that can detect vehicles in multiple lanes in dense, urban areas covering entire cities. Covering the entirety of a business district like London, Sydney or Manhattan is where we are aiming for over the next two to three years.”
For the past four years, the company has been backed by its Chairman and Australian entrepreneur Bevan Slattery. “When I first saw this, I knew it was special, but as we have seen improvements in AI, DSP capabilities of advanced GPU and cloud this whole FiberSense capability envelope keeps lifting to another level. I genuinely don’t think I’m exaggerating when I say this is simply the most exciting technology to ever come out of Australia. This will be bigger than 5G, in fact, I’m starting to wonder if this could become as big as Cloud.”
FiberSense has been diligently filing patents protecting the core notion of using telecoms fiber networks in cities as a real-time digital fabric for movement and events. This has paid off and FiberSense has been awarded a series of patents protecting much of the core intellectual property in the platform with a series of further IP in the funnel as patents pending.
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FiberSense Pty Ltd was formed to dramatically improve everyone’s experience in public spaces by adding a new level of real time and historical awareness of anonymised objects and events in public spaces. The team at FiberSense invented and patented a new class of sensor system over optical fiber cable infrastructure called VIDAR™. FiberSense has deep competencies that sit at the intersection of optical fiber sensing, integrated photonics, machine learning and optical fiber telecoms networks. They bring VIDAR™ and its unique awareness capabilities together in a digital platform called SuperSoniQ that can be accessed at SuperSoniQ.com
ABOUT MARK ENGLUND
Dr Mark Englund is an Australian engineer and serial entrepreneur. Mark has a PhD in SONAR based on optical fiber sensors. Dr Englund worked on cutting edge SONAR research using optical fiber sensors in the late 90s at Australia’s Defence Science and Technology in Adelaide and was selected for a secondment to the USA’s Naval Research Laboratory in Washington DC, USA. In 2001, Mark co-founded start-up Redfern Optical Components Pty Ltd which was later sold to TE
Subcom, a wholly owned subsidiary of US corporation TE Connectivity in 2010. In 2015, Mark conceived VIDAR™ at the intersection of the specialised optical fiber sonar knowledge he acquired in the early stage of his career with his deep knowledge of telecoms optical fiber networks acquired during his time with TE Subcom and TE Connectivity. Wide scale 3rd party sensing of objects and events is the high barrier to unlock ambient intelligence in public spaces for all stakeholders. Exponential growth of Cloud computing and Artificial Intelligence was looming on the horizon and Dr Englund started FiberSense in 2015 to capture that opportunity.
ABOUT BEVAN SLATTERY
Bevan Slattery, one of Australia’s leading entrepreneurs, has founded some of the nation’s biggest technology success stories. Starting as a co-founder of PIPE Networks, Australia’s largest Internet Exchange and third largest metropolitan fibre network provider, Slattery sold the company to TPG in 2010. Subsequently, he founded NEXTDC, Australia’s largest data centre operator; Megaport, the global leading elastic interconnection provider; Cloudscene, the world's largest platform for searching cloud and connectivity services; Biopixel, Australia’s leading production service provider for natural history and animal behavioural sequences; Superloop, a Pan-Asian infrastructure-based telecommunications provider; SubPartners, a submarine cable operator and Indigo Cable investor; and SUB.CO, an Independent specialist submarine cable development group constructing the new Oman Australia Cable (OAC). Slattery's entrepreneurial success is highlighted in having listed a record five companies on the Australian Stock Exchange and received many industry awards including EY Champion of Entrepreneurs Award in 2016, National Charles Todd Medal, and the Pearcy Foundations Benson Award as well as being recently inducted into the Commsday Hall Of Fame.