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Curtin Commercial Innovation Awards 2016

R&D Now

The Curtin Commercial Innovation Awards celebrates the work of Curtin staff and students who have made significant contributions to the advancement of commercial industries. This year’s winners come from a broad range of research areas, and have developed exciting new technologies, products or services that will help to progress industries and vastly improve consumer or user experience.

Augmented hearing device

Wearable audio tech company Nuheara have developed new wireless earbuds called IQbuds that represent a new level in wireless wearable technology. Working closely with Nuheara, a Curtin research team led by Professor Sven Nordholm from the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering is developing new algorithms to achieve an exceptional level of sophistication in blending digital audio streams with sounds from the real world. These algorithms integrate seamlessly with Nuheara’s revolutionary IQbuds.

The earbuds connect with Bluetooth devices and allow the wearer control over what they hear. They can be used to augment the sounds in the environment like a hearing aid or block it out for some peace and quiet.

Mine maintenance optimisation

Keeping a large mining operation running smoothly and effectively is a big task, and efficiency is key in maximising profits. While maintenance requiring a shutdown is an inevitability, the time spent with mines not functioning is often far longer than it needs to be, cutting into profits by substantial amounts.

Working in collaboration with market-leading mining services firm and project sponsor Linkforce Engineering, Associate Professor Ryan Loxton and his research team from the Department of Mathematics and Statistics have developed cutting-edge algorithms that reduce maintenance downtime costs and optimise resource use in shutdowns.

These complex algorithms are used to automatically generate a shutdown schedule for mining operations, making scheduling far more efficient and saving potentially huge amounts.

Marketing Mobile Lab

Market research is an important part of economics, but collecting data has always been a fairly imprecise process. Now, research led by School of Marketing Professor Ian Phau is bringing a new, more scientific practice to the measurement of consumer reaction.

Curtin’s mobile marketing lab can measure heart rate, skin conductance, eye gaze and brainwaves as well as tracking emotion through facial recognition software, giving unprecedented insight into how people react to advertisements and brand products.

Curtin eventually plans to allow partners such as market research firms to access the lab under licensing arrangements, and a number of Australian and international businesses have already expressed interest in the lab’s commercial potential.

Cancer stem cells

Biomedical Sciences Professor Arun Dharmarajan and his research team have isolated components of a protein which occurs naturally in the body. These peptides are able to interfere with the signals that allow cancer cells to grow. It also affects cancer stem cells, making them less resistant to chemotherapy.

This breakthrough has huge potential in cancer treatment and offers hope for new, safer drugs. The protein breaks down into domains and then into smaller peptide parts, which block cancer growth signals while being much less likely to have unexpected or detrimental effects on the body.

Used in combination with other currently available treatments, this new discovery is set to aid greatly in the fight against cancer and save lives.

Ethylene Inhibitor

Fruits and vegetables are a vital part of a healthy diet and a large industry, but keeping them fresh on the way to the consumer can be a challenge. Nearly half of all fruit and vegetables spoil before they are bought, and one of the main reasons for this is a hormone called ethylene. This causes over-ripening of fruit, spoilage of vegetables and loss of petals in flowers.

Professor Zora Singh from the Department of Environment and Agriculture, and Dr Alan Payne from the Department of Chemistry, have developed non-toxic compounds that can help solve this problem by preventing produce from reacting to ethylene, which have been shown to slow ripening and extend the shelf life of produce and to reduce petal loss in flowers.

This advancement promises to reduce food waste, meaning that land and water can be utilised more sustainably, benefitting the environment and economy.

Virtual home visits

The Virtual Home Visits game was developed by Senior Clinical Professional Fellow Anne Furness and her research team as a way for students to experience how to assess risks in a client’s home without the need for every student to physically visit a client.

Developed using HTML5, the ‘serious game’ is accessible and can be played on a desktop or mobile device. It gives the sense of being in a client’s home, with students to identify and classify hazards that could result in falls, formulate a risk management plan and determine the service the client needs.

Packaged in a game, the solution is much more engaging than classroom learning. The digital training process is preparation for students and should aid them in helping the elderly, allowing people to remain in their homes longer and avoid institutional care.

Deep water 3D imaging

Two wartime shipwrecks off Western Australia are being digitally reconstructed in 3D with the help of Curtin’s innovative technology. Highly detailed images of the wrecks were captured by remote controlled vehicles fitted with customised camera and lighting gear.

These images are being processed into a 3D model with software developed by Dr Andrew Woods and his researchers, which uses the Pawsey Centre supercomputer to vastly speed up the time needed to process the images. Without this innovation the data would take over one thousand years to process.

This will allow the wrecks to be studied in great detail, and the software has other potential applications in mine safety, forensic analysis of crime scenes, or even game and movie production.

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