Nicta launches wireless sensor forum

National ICT Australia (Nicta) has launched The Sensor Network Forum to promote industry and research collaboration in the fast-growing area of wireless sensor networks.

The Forum will present a series of seminars and short courses to the wider sensor network research community with presentations provided by both local and international technology experts. Nicta's aim is to promote further innovation in the field of sensor networks.

With analysts predicting the market for sensor networks to reach $60 billion by 2010, Nicta's sensor network program leader Dr Stan Skafidas, said Forum will be a valuable catalyst for Australia to capture a share of this growing market.

Intelligent sensor networks are relatively inexpensive electronic devices, which have the potential to create systems that can monitor what is happening in the environment, communicate with each other, and take action if necessary.

They are ideally suited to sustainable agriculture, water management and environmental monitoring. They can also be employed in industrial applications, for example to monitor machinery and infrastructure such as bridges, dams, and roads.

Nicta CEO Dr David Skellern said the technology has enormous potential for use in crucial areas such as water and environmental management.

Speaking at the launch of Forum at the University of Melbourne, Nicta's research laboratory director Rob Evans said wireless sensor networks have the potential to significantly reduce the cost of data capture and to transform current methods of information gathering.

"They offer some of Australia's strongest industries opportunities to further enhance productivity, growth, and global competitiveness," he said.

Nicta has been researching wireless sensor networks since its establishment in 2003 and earlier this year launched Nictor, a wireless sensor network technology platform that will be used to monitor and control critical infrastructure in Australia's horticulture and agriculture industries.

The Nictor platform enables the monitoring and control of critical infrastructure, requires minimal configuration and is highly scalable.

It has the potential to boost the quality and yield of Australia's farm produce, and address the challenges associated with on-farm water management.

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