What do all of these situations have in common? That tricky reverse park, popping into Tescos, answering a phone-call, drying your hands and a quick half hour workout in the gym? Nope, it’s not that they’re all often avoided… Its sensors.


And this is just a tiny excerpt from a 1000 page novel. Sensors are everywhere, from daily tasks such as washing your hands (that automatic soap dispenser and tap) to medical breakthroughs - In 2013, Liverpool John Moores University developed sensors that can be woven into any piece of clothing. This meant that doctors could monitor a patients vital signs, such as heart rate, blood oxygen levels and temperature just through this wearable garment. Non-invasive, wireless and battery-free.

Sensor City

In September 2017, Liverpool became home to a purpose built, technical business and support centre, Sensor City. Sensor City is a technical innovation centre and University Enterprise Zone.


What?

In layman's terms, Sensor City is a collab between University of Liverpool and John Moores University. It provides a place for businesses across a range of sectors to come together and translate their innovative sensor concepts, into real-life commercially viable solutions.


How?

They do this by offering support in terms of research, expertise and access to facilities that aim to speed up the process from concept to final product. Sensor City is not only for larger scale companies, but offers support for SMEs alongside larger companies, universities and partners of Sensor City.

Still not sure? Take a look at this video below, which may help bring the idea alive.


Liverpool City Region, leading sensor techs

Although a huge development for Liverpool and of national significance, Sensor City did not mark the start of sensor tech in Liverpool City Region. Nearby, at Sci-Tech Daresbury, the Hartree Centre has been working to transform the UK industry through high performance computing, 'big data' and cognitive technologies since 2012.

The Hartree centre works with huge names such as Unilever, IBM and the Open Data Institute.

But there's more - take a look at these innovative sensor tech concepts, that began and evolved in Liverpool based companies.


Red Ninja's fast track intelligent transport system

In 2016, design and technology company, Red Ninja received a £222,000 grant from Innovate UK for its £688,000 Life First Emergency Traffic Control (LiFE) project. This funding helped Red Ninja to bolster its research capabilities and accelerate its engineering and data science teams.

This fund meant that Red Ninja had teams working on the research and development of the initiative, full time - without this, it could have taken another 10 years to get to where they were just a year later.


The Concept

Red Ninja had found that ambulances that were using ‘fixed time plans’ were not hitting their response times, because of increasingly congested city centres, like Liverpool.

After some extensive research, that including obtaining and analysing ‘big data’ around the way that traffic lights are programmed to control congestion, it found that it could actually manipulate traffic in almost real time.

Red Ninja then employed artificial intelligence to develop an algorithm - an algorithm is a set of rules to be followed in calculations or other problem-solving operations, especially by a computer i.e. Facebook’s News Feed will use an algorithm to determine what they show you in that feed - that could create a clear run through the traffic.

This means that they could influence the traffic lights, which meant that the ambulance could make its way through the city centre quicker and easier.

Aqua Running

Terry Nelson is the founder of Aqua Running and was a LFC Youth Team player, until persistent injury pushed him to early retirement.

Terry developed a business venture that teaches the technique of aqua-running (similar to aqua aerobics) whilst wearing a revolutionary suit that's been developed by Terry himself for a number of years. The suit is designed to help provide a highly effective, zero impact, resistance workout in water, for those who may suffer long-term injuries or physical challenge.

The suit is the only fitness aid of its type in the world and can be used for rehabilitation as well as athletic training. The suit is a full buoyancy aid, meaning that those wearing the suit weigh up to 90% less in the water.

Endorsed by Real Madrid and many other UK Premier League teams, Terry plans to develop the suit further with the help of Sensor City. Through the development and application of brand new sensor tech, that can accurately record data in the water, Aqua Running hopes these sensors will provide medical staff with valuable training and performance data.

IX Liverpool

Our final snippet of Liverpool's sensor tech portfolio is the Liverpool City Region Internet Exchange.

Bear with me on this, it took me a bit of explaining to understand this too. The Liverpool Internet Exchange is a local internet exchange point. An internet exchange allows users to use a 'peer to peer' internet connection - IX Liverpool actually built the first Internet Exchange in a shipping container.

What is a peer-to-peer internet connection?

A peer-to-peer network means that the 'peers' - i.e computer systems - are all connected via the internet, and files can be shared directly between the systems without the needs of a central server. This means that the computers on the p2p network becomes a file server as well as client.

And what is the benefit of that?

Well, without the need of a central server - which are normally located in larger cities such as London it can speed up the performance of the internet service, important for the future for businesses in Liverpool with the rise in Virtual Reality.

However, this is also important for IOT - Internet of Things. IOT includes items such as a Google Home, Amazon Echo, Smart Meter, Smart fridge etc. devices that produce a small amount of data but need fast, low latency (Latency is the amount of time a message takes to travel through a system.) and minimal hops to get the message from A to B. Doesn't it make more sense that when you ask Alexa what time corrie is on, that it comes from an internet exchange in Liverpool and not London?

And it works via sensors, placed throughout the city that allow users to peer off of each others internet.

This is just a small example of the work that businesses across Liverpool City Region are doing with sensor tech and IOT.

Sensor City has a range of events that people can attend for free, usually around the creative and digital areas.

Sensor City is a major part of the ‘Knowledge Quarter’ development in Liverpool.

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This blog has been written by Jess Cavendish, Digital Marketing Executive for Marketing Liverpool. Jess looks after all things website and content related for VisitLiverpool/its liverpool, Marketing Liverpool and Liverpool Convention Bureau digital channels!

Jess is originally from Chester and started out at Visit Chester.

She is 22 years old, loves music, travelling, singing and a good night out.

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