NICTA showcases top projects at opening of ACT lab

Opening its new Canberra laboratory yesterday, NICTA showcased a range of projects including the creation of intelligent devices with the ability to learn.

The ultimate aim for NICTA's statistical machine learning researchers is to build intelligent systems that adapt to user needs without requiring a programmer to encode rules about how to act.

One of six projects featured at yesterday's event was the Body Area Networks of Embedded Systems for Humans (BANESH). It examines the use of small inexpensive sensors, such as micro processors and miniature transmitters, to interpret data from small, smart devices used for biometric monitoring into useful information.

Another project is InterfereX which aims to develop an advanced modem for an OFDMA-based 4G mobile wireless system using patent-pending receiver techniques to double receiver sensitivity. This will result in substantial improvements in wireless network coverage and data capacity throughput.

The lab was officially opened by ACT Chief Minister, Jon Stanhope.

The new facilities bring together NICTA's three offices in Canberra. Staff levels will increase from 164 to 220.

Other projects that attracted a lot of interest include the Automated Anatomical Structure Extraction for Diagnosis and Population Norms Project.

It uses mathematical modelling to create and analyse 3D images of the hippocampus region of the brain to help diagnose conditions such as Alzheimer's, epilepsy and schizophrenia.

Finally, there is the eGovernment project which addresses the technology needs of state and federal governments with a particular focus on interoperability and business alignment.

A range of software infrastructure technologies (including software architecture design, project scoping, sizing and estimation as well as performance assessment) are currently being developed and deployed across multiple agencies in major business transformation projects.

NICTA also announced it has signed a software licensing deal with Sydney road infrastructure company Pavement Management Services (PMS).

The three year agreement will enable PMS to rapidly commercialise research from NICTA's Smart Cars Project.

The Smart Cars project uses computer technology, particularly image analysis, to enable a safer driving experience.

The goal of the project is to provide input to the driver about road conditions, obstacles and potential hazards, letting the driver retain control of the vehicle while benefitting from alerts from the computer system.

These same NICTA-developed techniques are to be used by PMS to automatically detect, recognise and geographically pinpoint road signs for highway and pavement management, using video-footage shots from survey vehicles.

PMS CEO, John Yearman said by commercialising software from NICTA's Smart Cars project it can further research in this area.

"The road sign system using NICTA recognition technology is about five times faster than using humans to view the footage and log reports, and a quantum leap in accuracy," Yeaman said.

PMS is a specialist high technology civil engineering consultancy in the field of road infrastructure design and maintenance. It has a team of 42 engineers in Australia, New Zealand, Philippines, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.

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