In today’s digital world, your business is only as good as its data. How you sense, gather, measure, monitor and mine that data to create value is the business of CENSIS - Scotland’s Innovation Centre for Sensor and Imaging Systems.
From its base in Glasgow, CENSIS brings industry and academia together to better capture and capitalise on the data streams we all leave in our wake.
When you make a phone call, enter or leave a building, book a theatre ticket, or download some music, you're creating ripples in a data stream. And in a global market valued at £500 billion, with an annual growth rate of 10%, Scotland is well placed to become a leader in the SIS field.
Shaping the future internet
Sensors underpin ‘smart’ products and are tipped to be the core data capture systems of the future internet.
Dr Mark Begbie, business development director at CENSIS, says: “Scotland already has 200 companies working in sensor imaging technology, and a supply chain with an annual turnover of £2.5 billion.
“That SIS technology, although often unseen, is used and has applications in almost every sector of business and industry, whether that be manufacturing, agriculture, renewables, tourism, food production and processing, or tourism.
“Wherever data is generated, there's a need to capture, store and analyse it.”
Bridging the tech gap
CENSIS helps bring new sensors products and services to market by collaborating with industry on R&D projects, doing sensors research and offering professional training.
Dr Begbie says: “We’re catalysts and enablers. CENSIS brings the research base and helps build bridges between industry and academia.
“It’s all about bridging the tech gap, and helping companies to develop and diversify their tech offering.”
CENSIS has a project portfolio of £13.9 million and supports a community of over 3,500 companies, universities and research groups.
Mirage has real substance
One CENSIS success story is the signing of the Mirage R&D programme.
The initiative, the first of its kind in Scotland, brings together companies - Cascade Technologies (lead partner), Compound Semiconductor Technologies Global, Gas Sensing Solutions Ltd, Amethyst Research Ltd – and the University of Glasgow, to help develop and manufacture the next generation of sensing technologies.
The Mirage project aims to boost turnover for the businesses by £135 million over the next 10 years, while cutting their production costs by up to 50%. It will give Scotland a competitive edge in the global market, and is expected to deliver £56 million to the Scottish economy over the next 10 years.
The project is supported with almost £6 million in funding over the next three years, including £2.8 million from the companies participating, £2.6 million from Scottish Enterprise’s collaborative R&D support fund, and £241,000 plus capital equipment provided by CENSIS.
Smart thinking for smart cities
CENSIS is also helping Glasgow to become a ‘smart’ city. It's working with the University of Glasgow, Strathclyde University and Glasgow Caledonian University, and partnering with Stream Technologies, Semtech Inc. and Boston Networks, to roll out the next phase of their LoRa network.
The wireless network, which covers most of the city centre, provides a much lower power and cheaper way of connecting previously isolated devices. It gives the public, developers and businesses the ability to create their own Internet of Things (IoT) infrastructure.
Dr Begbie says: “This isn’t about providing faster broadband to businesses – it’s about connecting devices that are currently excluded from the internet and providing services which are not currently possible.
"The technology is set to address some of the key challenges in the IoT, making long-term battery-powered wireless monitoring possible, with the additional benefit of real-time location information.”
LoRa is already helping deliver the next phase of the technology. It's currently being used to monitor air quality and enhance intelligent transport systems in Glasgow,
Dr Begbie says: "It has the potential to be as disruptive to businesses as the internet has been already to daily life.
“CENSIS, and the technology we help co-develop, can help turn Scotland into a global game-changer.”
CENSIS has its own IoT Centre, which can help companies overcome many of the challenges that they face in product development around the IoT.
Find out more about sensors in Scotland