A team of scientists from the CSIRO have been nominated for the European Inventor Award, after developing a technology that enhances the performance of wireless local area networks.
Launched in 2006, the European Inventor Award is presented annually by the European Patent Office to outstanding investors for their technological, social or economic contributions.
Nomination proposals are submitted by the public and by patent examiners at the EPO and Europe’s national patent offices.
The finalists and winners are chosen by an international jury, which includes prominent personalities from politics, business, media, science, academia and research.
The awards are presented in cooperation with the European Commission and the country that holds the European Council presidency at the time of the award ceremony (Demark).
The European Inventor Award is presented in five categories – industry, research, small and medium-sized enterprises, non-European countries, and lifetime achievement.
From almost 200 inventors and teams originally nominated, 15 finalists have been selected, including an Australian team of scientists, nominated in the “non-European countries” category.
Doctor John O’Sullivan, Graham Daniels, Dr Terence Percival, Diethelm Ostry and John Deane are scientists at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO).
Nominated for their WiFi innovation, it is the second time an Australian inventor has featured as a nominee since the first EIA in 2006.
EPO president Benoît Battistelli said in a statement the innovation led by Dr O’Sullivan and his team “has impacted on our daily life to an extent that only few inventions have achieved before”.
Doctor O’Sullivan has created a technology that can make a wireless local area network (WLAN) so fast and robust that it would be as powerful as the cabled solutions of the time.
What makes this invention even more unique is that it started out with research on black holes and radio astronomy.
“The performance of the available WLAN solutions was mediocre. There were many problems that needed to be solved,” Dr O’Sullivan says.
“But, in essence, it turned out that the problems we had to solve in radio astronomy back then with black holes and later with WLAN were remarkably similar.”
The scope for this technology is huge – wireless networking technology is used in billions of devices worldwide.
In the United States, WiFi access point penetration has reached 50%. Worldwide, penetration is growing at nearly 10% a year.
The winners of the 2012 EIA will be announced during an award ceremony in Copenhagen on June 14.
The other two finalists in the “non-European countries” category are Dr Stanford Ovshinsky from the US, and US Professor Federico Capasso and Swiss scientist Professor Jérôme Faist.
Dr Ovshinsky’s company introduced the first nickel-metal hydride (NiMH) batteries, while Professor Capasso and Professor Faist were selected for their work on quantum cascade lasers.