Minister for Skills, Research and Innovation Mr Damien English visited the Nimbus Centre as part of his visit to Cork Institute of Technology’s Bishopstown Campus on February 3rd. Mr English is a Minister of State at the Departments of Education, Skills and Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation and visited to experience first-hand and support the Centre’s technology innovations.
The Nimbus Centre is Ireland’s largest ‘Internet of Things’ (IoT) research facility, the area predicted to lead the next digital revolution and surpass the dot com boom in coming years. Everyday objects are made smart & efficient by connecting and controlling them via the internet, and already demand for IoT products is growing rapidly, with powerful multinational electronics companies setting up IoT divisions. The Nimbus Centre provides technical support for these companies, and services the requirements of SMEs that have a great Hi-Tech idea, but lack the know-how to implement it. This is leading to job creation in a sector that has huge potential for growth.
The Minister received a tour of the Nimbus Centre’s state of the art facilities, including the Nimbus laboratory suite, and was shown a number of innovative technologies. Two such technologies were demonstrated to the Minister today.
Tip Tap Tap is an Internet of Things educational platform. Researchers at the Nimbus Centre have used embedded systems to create an interactive, touch-sensing school table. The technology can be integrated with newly manufactured furniture or can also be retrofitted onto existing school furniture, helping to keep costs low.
The desk behaves as a multi-touch, multi-user interface. It supports gesture interaction, as well as being able to detect interaction through printed materials and objects placed on the desk. It allows multiple students to interact simultaneously across the classroom. All data is logged, allowing teachers to visualise in real-time student responses, therefore facilitating early intervention to support learning.
The Minister was shown one of the sound applications where various musical notes can be played through touching the desk, and even partook in playing a few notes himself!
Next to be showcased was the water buoy. This was developed by researchers in the Water Systems and Services Innovation Centre at Nimbus and harnesses state-of-the-art technology in water monitoring. The device encompasses embedded system design and wireless technologies that can be used to collect real time information on the water environment.
The Smart low-cost buoy prototype (known as ‘Einstein’) was moored on the River Blackwater for an 8 month trial during 2014, collecting information regarding water and atmospheric conditions throughout this time. The buoy uploaded information to the internet every 15 minutes, going into hibernation mode when not transmitting to save energy, since the entire system is solar powered. Nimbus designed and built all aspects of the internal electronics for power management and wireless communications; integrated the suite of sensors; and programmed the entire system to work together seamlessly. This practical ‘Internet of Things’ application is an example of the hi-tech research undertaken at the Nimbus Centre, and is a platform for the development of further IoT designs for emerging businesses who come to Nimbus for Smart Systems and Solutions in a wide variety of areas, including Water & Energy.