Communications

Currently commercially available Australian world first products and technologies in communications.


 Improving the quality and capacity of communications

As global communications become more congested, better new hardware is required to enhance and speed the transmission of voice and data signals both nationally and internationally.

Electronics engineers at Signal Processing Associates Pty Ltd developed the 2Mbit/s DOS Modem for Telstra Corporation Limited, the offshore division of Telecom Australia. The three and a half years of development involved theoretical research, computer simulations, hardware and software design and testing and manufacture to international standards. The project has resulted in two patents - one in Australia and one in the United States.

Today, this high speed modem provides digital capacity on Telstra's existing analogue underwater transmission cables for both data and the spoken word.

It is a major world first providing substantial improvement in both the quality and capacity of telecommunications services, resulting in improved business opportunities for users. The DOS Modem provides 2Megabit/s on a 240KHz bandwidth by using 1024 Quadrature Amplitude Modulation and Forward Error Correction and provides for Telstra a 25% increase in capacity over previously existing technology. Telstra now markets this `super modem' internationally. The modem is presently in use in the United Kingdom, Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia and the Farore Islands.


 Speeding up the transfer of information

The volume of voice and data travelling over telephone lines grew so fast in the late 1980s that new communications technology was required to keep telecommunications systems operating efficiently.

In 1987, Telstra Corporation Limited and the University of Western Australia got together to form a small new company called QPSX Communications Pty Ltd, whose six member team of electronic engineers went to work to develop the QPSX broadband communications technology. QPSX enables different kinds of communications systems, including those for computers and telephones, to share the same wiring and switchgear. In itself, this concept is not new - fax machines and modem-linked computers already share the public telephone network. But the QPSX technology speeds up the transfer of information so that very large or complex messages and images can be transmitted quickly, easily and with maximum security over long distances.

For example, a straightforward image can be faxed at up to 9600 bits per second, but the QPSX network will operate 14,500 times faster, transmitting in one second what would take a conventional fax more than four hours to send.

Typical business applications for the technology include documentation transfer (banking, financial services, insurance); on-line data base access and modification for reservation/booking records (airline and transportation, tourism, hospitality); remote access to central resources such as software, printers, plotters, scanners, processing power and storage; high speed bulk data transfer for backup and disaster recovery; and the instant transfer of images such as those used in computer-aided design, CAT scans and medical records.

The company manufactures equipment for Telstra's national fast packet switching network called FASTPAC. The product is also suitable for private networks. The company's equipment is also being manufactured under licence and marked internationally by Siemens of Germany and Alcatel of the Netherlands.

Lower transmission costs and quicker communications made possible by the innovation is improving the productivity and effectiveness of industry and government organisations.


 The optimum mobile modem for the analogue network

The computer, fax and mobile phone have revolutionised communications, and successfully combined they can become a portable office. An office is mobile when communications are mobile and this is realised through the use of modems, which connect computers via telephone lines, enabling data to be sent and received.

Advancements in technology have increased the portability and reduced the size of modems from large and cumbersome to light and pocket-size. But, until recently mobile modems have been plagued by the inconsistencies and complexities of transmitting data and faxes through congested analogue cellular networks, which can create noise and generally disrupt transmission.

In September 1994, Charter Pacific Communications Pty Ltd released a (Personal Computer Memory Card Industry Association) PCMCIA type II card mobile modem called the CPC Cellular Card. The card and its software overcame the transmission problems commonly encountered over the analogue cellular network. According to the company, the CPC Cellular Card, combined with the related software, was an Australian world first innovation. The hardware/software combination can convert a standard lap-top computer and cellular phone into a portable office. It has the ability to send and receive data to and from anywhere within the range of an analogue mobile phone. Autolink, is the cellular card's associated software and the key to converting the card into a user friendly and reliable system. Autolink allows the user to launch applications quickly, prevent communication conflicts, manage files and incoming faxes. It makes sending a fax as straight forward as it is from a standard office fax machine.


 Antennas for extreme weather conditions

The sea can be unpredictable, dangerous and even more risky for a vessel without a reliable communications system. Commercial fleet operators and naval vessels have long depended on fibreglass antennas for communication purposes, however, they are not totally reliable under extreme weather conditions, have a short life and run at high maintenance costs.

Moonraker Australia Pty Ltd have designed and developed an antenna which is superior and unique in that it is capable of relaying communications at 1kW of continuous power under extreme environmental conditions, such as 240km/h wind and -30 to 55 C. The first of its kind ever developed, the antenna owes its hardiness and durability to a flexible polymer type material, specially created by Moonraker, used for the corona shielding. Forming a part of the base insulator, the shielding reduces the effects of flashover caused by saltwater spray, and permits a rapid recovery from saltwater induced short circuits caused by splashing.

The Moonraker type 107B/1 whip antenna is made from heavy gauge tempered marine grade aluminium tubing which gives a low loss radiating surface. It is protected by the corona shielding which is resistant to impact, and chemical and environmental effects.

The exceptionally durable and reliable Moonraker antenna is used by commercial fleet operators and navies throughout the world.


 Multiple channel communication recorders

Communication systems used by services such as police, fire brigade and ambulance require sophisticated networks that can record important conversations in emergency situations. Airports, merchant banks, betting organisations and stock exchanges also record communications where no paper changes hands, as proof of events or deals for possible future investigations.

Developed by Electrodata Pty Ltd in 1992, the most advanced high density analogue voice logger specifically designed for these tasks is the 9600 Series reel-to-reel voice logging recorder. Able to record 84 channels continuously (24 channels more than conventional recorders), it is the world's highest density equipment on the market.

Another innovation from the company is Digitrac, the world's first digital voice logger system controlled from a PC. Commercialised in 1993 it has 24 channels of recording over 24 hours. Replacing the large analogue recording system, the compact system records directly onto digital audio tape cassettes which are cheaper, smaller and more durable than conventional reel-to-reel tapes. Digitrac is an easier and more efficient than the old analogue system.

As companies grow and the world becomes a smaller place, more and more organisations are using sound recordings to protect their companies from expensive litigation. Electrodata is providing the equipment to keep these major organisations one step ahead in the global ball game.


 Digital signal processing development system

Digital signals enhance the quality and transmission speed of modern communications. Digital signal processing (DSP) cards and chips are now used in modern audio, communications, image processing, modem, satellite, sonar, radio and video as an integral part of those systems.

Electronics engineers at Signal Processing Associates Pty Ltd have developed a multiple-card digital signal processing computer workstation called the DSP Development System (DDS) with which other developers can now design their own digital signal processing systems.

This system allows multiple DSP cards to be used from different vendors. For very complex digital signal processing requirements, up to 8 DDS platforms can be linked allowing 32 DSP cards to be used simultaneously. The system represents state-of-the-art DSP research and development. Design engineers are now provided with a very sophisticated, yet easy to use development system which can increase their productivity and reduce conventional DSP development time and cost. This will speed the introduction of DSP oriented products into the marketplace, thus improving the way people communicate or process information.


 Miniature device for safe telephone line isolation

Throughout the world, telecommunications service providers insist that any privately owned mains powered equipment, such as facsimile machines, be connected to the telephone system through isolation circuits. This is done to prevent harm to equipment and personnel should a serious fault involving the mains power occur in the private equipment.

Traditionally this "protection" has been achieved by electronic isolation circuits which incorporate bulky transformers and this has restricted the further miniaturisation of these circuits.

An innovative world first solution is the Redback RB02.1 is a tiny little electronic component that replaces all current connecting devices for telephone networks. The Redback complies with all the safety standards set by international telephone organisations and replaces the conversion circuits used in most telephone products.

Invented by engineers David Whitby and Tim Harland in 1990 and developed by Pascom Technologies Pty Ltd, the Redback is a solid-state device that replaces current direct access arrangement and network controlled units. It is used in modems, facsimile machines, PABX and key telephone systems, dialling alarms, telephone answering machines and interactive voice response systems. It can be integrated into all major public switched telephone networks.

The Redback is not sensitive to stray magnetic fields and can be custom programmed to the individual requirements of all major international telecommunication networks. It supports major telecommunication environments and is a simple interface to most customer equipment. Future research is aimed at further miniaturisation of the Redback to a tiny 3mm, which will see it incorporated into small computerised equipment.


 Autotune antenna system for HF radio communications

Maintaining constant HF radio contact whilst on the move inevitably involves continually tuning the antenna into signals manually. An inconvenience when driving in the outback and and costly if you have to stop 50 tons of truck or a tourist coach. Invented by engineer Len Edwards in 1984, the unique AT230 autotune antenna system for HF radios is manufactured by Moonraker Australia Pty Ltd.

With a communications range of over 3,000 kilometres possible, the system uses a microprocessor to control the continuous tuning over the frequency range of the whip. It was designed for multi-frequency land mobile and base station use and can operate in any frequency range between 2 and 30MHz. It takes just 1 or 2 seconds to tune from one channel frequency to another.

An HF wide band amplifier is incorporated into the base of the whip to enhance performance in receive mode with weak signals. The antenna control unit is the interface between the whip antenna and transceiver, and contains the sensor and controlling electronics. Once installed, no further tuning or programing is necessary. You can relax and let your fingers do the driving (or flying), and let Moonraker's novel automatic antenna do the tuning in.


 High capacity local area network communications

Local area networks (LANs) provide vital communications links for many organisations. Command and control centres such as those in police, air traffic control, fire and ambulance headquarters demand LANs with the greatest capacity, flexibility and highest standard of reliability.

Over a period of eight years, engineer Ross Halgren and his team at AWA Limited developed AWANET - a versatile LAN switching system capable of simultaneously carrying all the voice and high capacity data needed to cope with any threat or emergency. It was designed to provide fast, reliable and efficient communications between multiple operators.

The first implementation of this system was AWANET-30 which was commercialised in 1986. This was a proprietary design. However the AWANET-100 is the first multi-media LAN switch system which can switch video, voice and data in a local area network and which conforms to the international FDDI-II communications standard.

The system has been installed at the Police Centre in Sydney, and generates a highly co-ordinated and rapid police response to emergencies, accidents and traffic hazards. It enables operators to communicate between the Police Centre, suburban, regional and country stations, land, sea and air vehicles and hand held systems, on a one to one basis or in conferences. Air traffic control centres also benefit from the system's advanced fibre optic technology which provides day to day routine, priority and emergency communications.


 Monitors measure fibre optic performance

Fibre optics. The future of global communications depend on it. This hi-tech environment has brought with it the need for developing technologies able to effectively maintain a high level cable performance. As with every new fast expanding technology, there are always new problems to overcome. In the field of fibre optics, this was to quickly and efficiently locate, diagnose and repair faults on fibre optic cable networks.

Technical Director of Kingfisher International Pty Ltd, engineer Bruce Robertson, developed a series of innovative fibre optic cable maintenance products to measure the performance and accuracy of optical cables over long distances. The new instruments were commercialised by Kingfisher International in 1991.

The compact hand-held KI 8000 Versatile Light Source, KI 4000 Laser Light Source and the KI 6000 Optical Power Meter measure light levels and locate faults. The Fibre Optic Talk Set KI 020 is a telephone device for long range voice communication between technicians. The Fibre Optic Return Loss Meter KI 5000 measures the amount of light loss from a cable and is used during installations or upgrading of cable networkss.

Kingfisher International's new instruments are making the job of fibre optic cable technicians a great deal easier, ensuring better installations, faster fault location and repairs to faulty cables.


 Unique software for pc programming teams

The popularity of Microsoft Windows on PCs has spawned dozens of software development tools designed for individual software programmers working on small projects. Yet experienced software managers know that careful co-ordination of a team of programmers requires tools that are specially designed for the needs of collaborative programming projects.

Gupta SQLWindows is the first PC client-server (network) software tool designed to meet the needs of groups of programmers working on client-server software projects. Philip Copeland of Jarrah Technologies Pty Ltd developed the unique TeamWindows component of SQLWindows over a period of two and a half years. As a result of his efforts, TeamWindows now offers team co-ordination and management capabilities that were previously available only in expensive mainframe-based software development systems.

TeamWindows automates administrative tasks such as staffing, security and quality control of the software development, test, and production environments of an application. It also produces continual, up-to-date reports on the status of every phase of a project. Throughout the application development cycle, project leaders can manage team members, track application components, and maintain software source code at various levels.

TeamWindows maintains a central data dictionary of database information such as table and column names, validation criteria, and other parameters.

With TeamWindows, application modules and templates are stored in the application repository. A comprehensive check-in/check-out facility lets project members share these components and modify them. Repository security ensures that only a single programmer at a time modifies a particular component and that unauthorised team members such as testers do not.

Through user defined templates, TeamWindows provides developers with dramatic increases in productivity. This sophisticated code generation feature allows total flexibility in design whilst establishing project standards.

Distributed worldwide by GuptaCorporation of the United States, Gupta SQLWindows is also the first implementation to offer full object orientation - a modular form of programming - in Windows, integrated with a sophisticated database application language.


 Japanese language software development program

An exceptional computer programming language called XL, first developed by ISR Group Limited in the 1980s, has had a profound effect on the development of new software in Japan.

With the ability to store and manipulate `expert' information, XL was designed for developing computer programs that run on desk-top multi-tasking computers, like UNIX workstations. A Japanese language version of XL, called IXLA, developed by computer specialists Colin Watts and Yutaka Yoshimura at ISR, was released in 1989. This has provided Japanese software developers and major corporations who develop their own software, with a powerful and relatively easy to use mouse driven programming tool.

Another development from the ISR Group is the ixlaCARD, the first IXLA based software product released in Japan in 1992. ixlaCARD is believed to be the world's first high-level, generic GUI (graphics user interface) system for UNIX. Companies using IXLA/ixlaCARD to develop new software include Fujitsu, Hewlett-Packard, Honeywell, Matsushita, Mitsubishi, NEC, Sony, Toshiba and Xerox. The innovation was awarded the Sony Software Award in 1991 and 1992.


 A case for faster custom software development

The development and maintenance of customised corporate software programs for medium to large scale computer users is a complex and time consuming business. Any new software tool which enables an organisation to speed up and optimise the process is a major breakthrough for today's competitive business.

LANSA was written and developed by Aspect Computing Pty Ltd to help software development staff become more productive quickly. It is a unique Computer Aided Software Engineering (CASE) application development software tool used to automate the design, development and maintenance of high quality commercial software, for virtually any application.

As LANSA requires no complex specialist language and is easy to learn, the innovation means that programmers and developers can now be fully trained and productive in less than one month.

In the early software development phase it can produce working prototypes of computer systems without the requirements for programming. Application development takes a fraction of the time compared with other conventional methodologies and saves users time and money.

The multilingual support facility of LANSA allows developers to create custom software which can run in any number of languages. The product is used by more than 2,000 companies in 50 countries around the world.

LANSA won the Australian Information Technology Association's "1989 Software Product of the Year" and the "1991 Software Export of the Year" awards.


 Object oriented software for custom software developers

Companies in banking, finance, insurance and telecommunications rely very heavily on computers for day to day efficiency. Their computer software is usually custom-designed to suit their particular requirements.

Designing and modifying large custom computer programs is made complicated by the varieties of computer systems, the difficulties of networking, and the different windowing systems that users require.

To break through these barriers, the 60-strong team at Open Software Associates Limited created OpenUI, a world first client/server, cross GUI (graphic user interface) development system for business software. With OpenUI, a programmer can write an application once, and immediately run it on various computers using Microsoft Windows, Apple Macintosh, Presentation Manager, Motif, or even character terminals. OpenUI can run the application across a network to a central computer, without requiring specialist knowledge from the programmer or the user.

Award-winning OpenUI lets programmers build cross-GUI applications with the computer language of choice, including COBOL, C, C++ and even 4GLs. The `point-and-click' visual design tool in OpenUI is easy to learn and use. The object-oriented structure of the program means it easily keeps pace with new technologies. For example, OpenUI already provides interactive graphics, so that users can for example click on objects, and drag them to new locations. This extensibility reassures the purchaser that the investment in the product will be protected, well into the next century.


 Remote radio frequency identification system

Radio frequencies (RF) have been used for military purposes with deadly consequences for quite some time. But it took electrical engineer Leigh Turner of Integrated Silicon Design Pty Ltd, along with Dr Peter Cole from the University of Adelaide, to put RF to a more useful purpose in life. Together, the innovators developed radio frequency identification technology in 1988 for tracking and identifying just about anything that moves.

Commercialised in 1990 by Integrated Silicon Design, the company's long range electronic identification systems use the principle of modulated backscatter radio frequency. Together with the company's proprietary integrated circuit designs, the systems are at the leading edge of electronic technology.

The system consists of an interrogator and a passive tag. The interrogator transmits a pulse of RF power to the tag, which is not only used to power the encoding circuit on the tag, but is also reflected to transmit the modulated identification code back to the interrogator. The received signal is then decoded and the unique code is presented to the host computer via a standard interfacing cable.

The tag, which can be as small as 30mm x 15mm x 3mm, consists of a substrate which has a printed antenna and a circuit which is uniquely encoded at manufacture. Each tag, with its individual code, can be used to access a database for a wide variety of applications. The tags have a read distance from 2 metres up to 14 metres.

The interrogator is designed to read the strongest tag in the field, which in multiple tags of the same configuration, is the nearest to the interrogator. The interrogator can read and distinguish between tags as close as 3mm to each other. It can identify vehicles travelling at more than 200 kilometres per hour, or people at running speed.

The innovation has unlimited potential for now and the future. From tracking goods in factories to automatically opening and closing gates for autorised vehicles, and from tracking people in large offices to activating weighbridges and traffic signals for emergency vehicles, radio frequency identification technology is here to stay.


 Remote monitoring of vehicles and people

Michael Yerbury, Christopher Gamgee, Graeme Bullock and Peter Jones have one thing in common. They are the inventors of an automatic electronic identification system using radio frequency signals, called the Bartag system. The original problem was to be able to remotely identify livestock to minimise handling. Then the team applied the technology to the transport industry to improve productivity.

Research on the system was carried out at the CSIRO Division of Radiophysics and the Universities of New England, Sydney and New South Wales in 1979. Commercialised by Amskan Ltd in 1986, the components of the system are fully protected by international patents.

The system utilises radio frequency and infrared to remotely and automatically identify vehicles and people, and activate gates, monitor vehicle and staff movements, track products. The system can also be designed to activate weighbridges and be used in customised industrial tracking applications. While automatically capturing the identity of objects and activating devices, the system can simultaneously collate and process the captured information and produce various reports on the operation in progress.

The technology enables organisations to easily and effectively co-ordinate people, vehicles or products, a powerful new tool in a competitive business environment.


 3-dimensional intelligent space security

It's three dimensional, invisible, can be big enough to envelop an entire Boeing 747, or small enough to encase a tie pin. It is called 3DIS, and it is the most advanced video motion detection system in the world.

Invented by Simon Veitch in the 1980s, who thought it would be a good idea if synthesiser controls could be put in mid-air and activated by movement. The 3DIS security system now marketed by his company 3DIS Pty Ltd, is capable of protecting just about anything, any size, anywhere, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

By combining the images from the fields of vision of several cameras focused on the area to be monitored from varying angles, the system can create any number of three dimensional secure zones around objects or areas of any size. The parameters of the secure zone are defined by the intersecting fields of view of video cameras. Because the detection zones are three dimensional, innocent movement in front or behind them does not trigger an alarm. The system recognises this when movement is detected by just one camera. But when movement is detected by two or more cameras, there is intrusion into the zone and alarms are triggered and pictures from relevant cameras are automatically recorded to videotape.

The system is controlled by a colour graphic touch-screen display which is easy to use. An operator can be trained to configure secure zones within minutes. A map of the secured site is displayed continuously on the screen showing the locations of the cameras, and precisely indicates the point where an intrusion occurs. All the detection zones can be monitored automatically and at the same time. Video pictures and system information can be transmitted over conventional telephone lines to connect various sites at a central location.

3DIS systems will protect trains held overnight from graffiti vandals, aircraft parked on the tarmac, cargo containers, warehouses, parked baggage trolleys or the parameters of prisons. The ingenuity of 3DIS means drastically reduced false and nuisance alarm rates, improved security and maybe even a reduction in insurance premiums.


 Ultimate ultra smart card for positive identification

Positively identifying the person on the other end of the telephone has always been a problem, particularly for people working in financial and other high-security professions. Code words and personal identification numbers are sometimes just not enough, especially when there is no computer network terminal available.

Recognising this problem, in 1992 a Norwegian bank asked Intellect Australia Pty Ltd to design, develop and manufacture a `super smart card solution' to the problem. So-called `smart cards' have been around for some time. They look like ordinary credit cards but are embedded with one or more computer chips carrying computerised information.

But what Intellect's Hans Bertina did was create a revolutionary product with its own in-built two-line liquid crystal display and keypad with encrypted information stored on the computer chips embedded in the card. It is called the Omnicard.

In use, a customer or employee rings the bank and gives the bank clerk their PIN number. The clerk types this number into a computer and the computer replies with a second `challenge' number. The caller is then asked to type this `challenge' number into their Omnicard and read out the results. The resulting number is checked against the bank's computer and if it matches, the caller is positively identified.

Omnicard now allows organisations to positively identify staff and customers in remote situations. As a result of this, confidential business can be transacted without fear of fraud. The development of the Omnicard system now places Intellect at the forefront of the development of super smart cards.


 Security architecture wards off hardware hackers

Electronic funds transfer has now become a way of life in developed countries. Everyday, millions of people enter their personal identification number (PIN) into keypads to access automatic teller machines and electronic funds transfer (EFTPOS) keypads to pay their shopping bills.

But in the early 1980s, the networks which carried this PIN information to the central banking computers were vulnerable to high-tech thieves. So in 1987 Andrew Waterhouse and Hans Bertina of Intellect Australia Pty Ltd developed a way of creating a programmable but highly secure PIN entry keypad for electronic funds transfer.

A year later they had created the Intellect Security Architecture system. A main feature of this system is the use of a custom VLSI (very large scale) integrated circuit which provides encryption and security functions within the keypad itself. When a PIN is entered, this device scans the keyboard and encrypts the PIN before transferring it to the network.

Because the encryption software is stored on a computer chip, it is virtually impossible to access and reveal its method of encoding numbers. Yet, if there is a need for the system to be altered or upgraded, it can be reprogrammed without affecting the security of the PIN pad.

Intellect Security Architecture means that people can be confident that the PIN they enter into the keypad is totally secure and cannot be `read' by would-be thieves tapping into the banking network.


 New smart card applications for a cashless society

The day of the cashless society is not yet with us, but the technology to bring that day closer already exists - in the form of `smart cards'. The technology for smart cards was invented a decade ago. Smart cards look like ordinary credit cards but have computer chips embedded in them. On those chips is recorded encrypted information.

Once inserted into a reader, the smart card can be debited or credited with cash without the need for the reader to be connected to the user's bank. The smart card system can also be used to store and record other forms of information.

Kevin Brightwell, head of CAMMS Systems Pty Ltd took the basic smart card technology and developed CopyTracker - for access control to copiers, laundromats, parking, vending and door access. An example of the innovation is the library payment system using smart card technology at the University of Melbourne, and the door security access system which is designed to control student and visitor access through the University.

Distributors are now being selected internationally to make the imaginative innovation available globally.


 The solid state hands-off keyboard

Today, millions of people throughout the world access automatic teller machines and EFTPOS terminals in their local shops and supermarkets. Back in the mid 1980s the challenge of how to push buttons through a glass window to access information from a television screen led Intellect Australia Pty Ltd's Quentin Oliver to design the revolutionary Intellect Solid State Keyboard in 1986.

The company won the Australian Design Award for its development of this keyboard technology. Oliver's invention is a remote sensing device which registers keystrokes by detecting the approach, rather than the touch of a finger. The through-barrier, non-contact electronic keyboard can be customised for any application, and the technology is a key design feature of the company's PIN Pad range of electronic keypads. The innovative keyboard was first commercialised in 1986 when it represented a major improvement over similar electronic keypad systems.


 World's most effective wireless data link controller

Conventional modem design for data and voice communication utilises guided media, such as cables or microwave frequencies, to provide constant communication conditions. With a non-direct medium, such as air, reliable communication is not guaranteed and the development of a data link controller to provide for such conditions of radio has traditionally been neglected.

Attempts to apply common modem designs to mobile radio systems have proved unsatisfactory, particularly as communication is complicated by constantly varying and unreliable electronic conditions and characteristics. The consequent effects of burst noise patterns and flutter fading, seriously diminish the performance of conventional modems and disrupt voice communication and data transmission.

For the first time, the protocol for a data link controller and data communications system which gives error free transmission has been designed by a team from Transcom Communications Systems Ltd. It enables data and messages formatted on personal computers to be formatted and received via standard high frequency (HF), very high frequency (VHF) or ultra high frequency (UHF) radio. It is the fastest and most accurate system available and is capable of communicating over the longest distances. For the technically minded, the data link controller has an audio period timer, a bandwidth window, a bit rate timer and bit rate synchronisation.

With the new protocol, data link controllers developed by Transcom enable computer data transfer between fixed and mobile sites, while being more secure, accurate and reliable than standard voice only communication systems.

The technology is being used successfully in a number of applications including, assisting in gas monitoring and emergency shutdown equipment, and full corporate internal data networks which enable information to be transmitted between regional bases and head offices of companies.


 A reading machine that works like a photocopier

Optical character recognition (OCR) is giving blind and visually impaired people new levels of independence by giving them easy access to printed information. An ingenious new reading machine that speaks several languages is helping the blind in their education, employment and leisure.

The Robotron Rainbow, invented by Milan Hudecek and commercialised in 1991 by his company Robotron Pty Ltd, can read most printed text in books, magazines, manuals, memos and many other documents in schools, libraries and in the workplace.

The Rainbow is simple to use. Operated much like a photocopier, printed text is placed on the glass and within seconds the machine reads the text aloud. The machine scans the print and can differentiate between text and pictures, and work out which way the page is facing. It can also be connected to a computer, for permanent storage of translated text, or to receive images such as faxes for translation. The innovation is a major breakthrough, not only for the visually impaired, but as a pointer to the way we will all access printed literature and information in the future - without having to read it ourselves.


 Unique lap-top computer for the visually impaired

Czech expatriate electronic engineer Milan Hudecek is the man behind a remarkable invention in the area of speech synthesis, that has resulted in major benefits to blind people in business, education and leisure. It was the Eureka A4, a personal computer with a Braille keyboard for data entry and a speech synthesiser to replace the screen.

The lap-top computer has sixteen built-in functions including word-processing, database, scientific calculator, clock, calendar, diary and telephone directory.

The innovation provides blind people with a vital new technological interface to the business world, and is educational as well as recreational. Eureka A4 has received accolades from all over the world including the Rolls-Royce/Qantas Award for Engineering Excellence; the Warren Centre Medal, University of Sydney; the Foire Internationale de Brno (Czechoslovakia) Gold Medal for Product Excellence; and the Winston Gordon Award for Technological Achievement in the Field of Blindness and Visual Impairment.

Commercialised in 1987 by Robotron Pty Ltd, the curent model of the Eureka A4 speaks six languages and is used by many thousands of visually impaired people in more than 25 countries around the world.


 Communicating in braille and print, for work and leisure

Braille translation can be inconvenient and expensive. In the teaching process, braille script may need to be sent away for translation, causing delays and frustration, while at home and at work, it is desirable to have instant communication of both braille and print.

An inexpensive translation system now overcomes these problems by producing print copy while brailling. Writing notes and letters, doing examinations or working on manuscripts can now be an interactive two-way communication.

Called the Braille-n-Print Slimline, the clever device was invented by engineer Norman Wilson and has been available from Quantum Technology Pty Ltd since 1984. The portable and rugged unit sits beneath an existing Perkins Brailler and is powered via a 9V DC mains adaptor. It can also work in a variety of languages including German, Italian, Spanish and French.

For many thousands of blind and visually impaired people, the Braille-n-Print has made communicating easier - for learning, business and leisure.


 Audio tactile teaching system for visually impaired

In a world designed primarily for sighted people, communicating pictorial information to vision impaired or blind people is a difficult time consuming process. A unique new teaching system called the NOMAD now offers an exciting interactive means of imparting such information simply and efficiently.

NOMAD has a purpose built touch pad with integrated speech and multi-media sound capability. When connected to a personal computer, it is able to give audible information, in the form of speech and sound, about any graphics placed on the pad, including maps, diagrams and pictures. Amongst many other applications, it is ideal for spatial concepts, orientation and mobility training, as well as independent learning.

Firstly, a graphic such as a map or picture is produced and then information is recorded into the computer for given points on the graphic. A tactile version of the graphic, made from puff ink, silk screen or any other suitable medium is then placed on the pad. The user interacts with NOMAD by touching points on the graphic to request, or be offered, audible information relating to the subject.

The innovation was originated by Professor Don Parkes at the University of Newcastle and commercialised in 1989 by Quantum Technology Pty Ltd.

NOMAD has proved to be a marvellous interactive communications tool, particularly for the blind and visually impaired.


 Pointing the way with miniature lasers

Faced with an audience and a set of slides, presenters and lecturers need to point to the various images and charts they project on the screen to get their message across. In the old days they used long thin sticks. Then followed retractable pointers that looked more like a car radio aerial. Now they use sophisticated miniature laser pointers instead.

Invented by engineers Victor Previn and Fred Stahl, and photographer Alex Hetman in 1979, the laser lecture pointers are now manufactured and marketed by Laserex Technologies Pty Ltd. The laser pointers which use a brilliant red beam can be as small as a fountain pen.

The company makes a range of laser pointers for a number of different uses. The LDP-400 is their standard pointer used for presentations, the LDP-450AV has a range of 300 feet, the LDP-350AV has a durable casing and is suitable for outdoor use on building sites. The LP-2000AV is the pen sized executive model with a gold and platinum finish, while the large LDP-150AV is designed to be attached to a podium, capable of sustaining its output for more than 20 hours continuous use. The brightest and most powerful laser pointer in the Laserex range is the LP-633AV. This executive model uses the shorter red/orange wavelength.


 Matching jobs to employees' interests and abilities

Every human being has the right to enjoy his or her work. Job satisfaction is about enjoying work. And because there is a clear relationship between job satisfaction and performance, it is important to both employees and employers.

Now a unique knowledge-based application software is helping managers appraise the suitability of staff for particular jobs, guide those contemplating career moves, and assisting executives restructure individual job functions and teams, to improve job satisfaction, corporate harmony and increase productivity.

Decision Preference Analysis (DPA) is a computer program that analyses and reports on people's preferences in a number of complex quantitative and qualitative ways, to reasonably predict job satisfaction. It analyses the answers to roughly 90 questions and reports the results as personal preferences based on predispositions such as practical/manual, persuasive/selling, clerical/administrative, creative/innovative, outdoor/mobile, mathematical/numerate, scientific/analytical, or social/people.

A team profile can also recognise individuals who like to work together as team members, and determine their individual role within the team as leader, persuader, administrator, field agent, examiner, innovator, analyser, individual producer, self-promoter, blocker, absent member, pedant, potential innovator, disputer or controller.

DPA was first developed from research conducted by psychologist Dr Richard Hicks and management theorist Dr Jim Kable at the (then Queensland Institute of Technology) Queensland University of Technology in 1983. DPA was subsequently developed for computer application by Jim Kable, with assistance from the CSIRO Division of Information Technology, and management consultant Neville Smith - the Managing Director of NIS Australia Pty Limited who commercialised the software in 1992.

It is the first validated predictor of job satisfaction which measures individuals and jobs in the same terms. Requiring no complex interpretation, it is easy to apply and to use to compare jobs to people. Though DPA is aimed primarily at employers, it is also an important tool for management consultants and employment agencies. DPA could also be used very effectively by governments to reduce unemployment, by ensuring that people are matched to jobs that will give them satisfaction.


 A modern approach to task management

The success of any task largely depends on the contributions of the people involved. Uncertainty about what needs to be done and how a task is to be done causes poor communications, reduces co-operation, wastes time and produces high stress levels. A means to identify the actions and priorities required to reduce this uncertainty in a given situation was needed.

Recognising this need, Dr Neil Miller began working on a solution and software tool as part of a PhD at the University of New South Wales, University College in Canberra. After five years of refinement in the workplace, the product has now emerged onto the market as TASKey and TASKey Plus from Task Solutions Pty Ltd.

TASKey is an innovative computer program which provides a holistic, structured method to develop and test plans, schedule tasks, and build teams to successfully complete these tasks. TASKey is a Microsoft Windows application, which focuses the people involved on the key issues. The program is used throughout the planning, implementation and evaluation of a task.

The software takes a step-by-step approach to any task - from asking for the task description and aim, breaking the task into smaller more manageable tasks, developing and testingt action plans - through to team members developing a team action plan.

TASKey opens communications, creates a positive co-operative work environment and engenders team spirit among the people involved. Individuals and groups develop a shared understanding and feeling of ownership of tasks. The final outcome is increased productivity from confidently doing the actions identified for success.


 Managing and assessing information

Managing and assessing the increasing amounts of written and verbal information received is a problem faced by all business professionals in today's information-rich world. So Professor Cyril Brookes of the University of New South Wales has researched and invented an innovative group communications product to help solve this problem. Developed and distributed by Grapevine Technologies Pty Ltd , the grapeVINE software program employs a unique filtering algorithm to facilitate scanning, classification, selective dissemination and sorting of informal information useful to executives and professionals in widely diverse industries and professions. The information items that can be automatically fed into grapeVINE in text or attached document form include news services, graphics, spreadsheets, word processed documents, CD-ROM and database documents, reports, proposals and forecasts.

The program alerts people to useful information as it pertains to them. Each person specifies the topic and importance level of the information they wish to receive. The topics are selected from a conceptual thesaurus of preferred terms that is developed specifically for each organisation.

The comments and other added-value items originating direct from professionals using the system may include evaluations, suggestions and problems. In this way, grapeVINE can utilise `soft' information such as the ideas, assessments, rumours and opinions which may be important to a business, but are usually ignored by conventional technology. grapeVINE is designed to selectively disseminate information and maximise group co-operation and effectiveness. It does this by providing a computer-based forum for review and analysis, automatically alerting a wider audience as information increases in importance. For organisations this ensures that their use of human resources is optimised through targeted communication and intelligent management of information.

The software builds a single strategic corporate memory of intelligence regarding customers and competitors, products and services, problems and solutions. Delivery, commenting and re-dissemination of the information can be by workstation or electronic mail.


 Discovering knowledge treasures

As public and corporate computer databases grow fat with an ever-increasing amount of data, it becomes increasingly easy to lose sight of relevant information.

Understanding this, systems engineer Dr John Galloway of Netmap Solutions Pty Ltd spent 17 years developing his unique Netmap Database Mining Software. The aim of the software is to help people quickly understand complicated information and the relationships between items or groups of information held in computers.

Netmap is a database mining software technique for finding information buried in large databases. It is the first such software in the world which can visually and interactively scan large databases to reveal previously unknown information.

Netmap's unique visualisation and analysis system can search information sourced from one or more databases for common or related relationships which exist but are buried deep in the databases of large companies and public organisations. The software is particularly suited to government departments and law enforcement and scientific agencies.

With this innovation, uncovering new vital clues could help solve crimes quickly. Finding the missing link in a fraud case, identifying the mystery person in a serial crime or finding the common link between loan applicants who had a high propensity to default on their payments, can now be done within minutes or days, rather than months or even years.


 MPEG-2 standard digital video conversion product

The new buzzword of the 1990s is multimedia. The concept of combining many types of media such as sound, pictures, film, animation and the printed word may be brilliant, but the task of bringing all these together in one cohesive format is extremely difficult.

To avoid setting national standards which were incompatible with standards used in other nations, various experts came together to establish single world standards for each form of media, in order that the world would be able to communicate with itself in future. The organisation with the task of establishing MPEG-2, the multimedia video communication standard, was the Motion Picture Experts Group, comprising representatives from companies around the world, including a team of experts from Siemens Limited in Australia.

Research and development conducted by Siemens for MPEG, in collaboration with Telstra Corporation Limited and Monash University, resulted in the company releasing one of the worlds first MPEG-2 standard digital video conversion products called Eikona. The innovation gave video production companies in Australia the technology and the facility to digitise video for multimedia production that complies with world standards.

Eikona, which combines purpose-built hardware with custom-written software, converts and compresses analog video to digitised data with exceptional clarity and smoothness in the resulting picture. Whereas the product has yet to be offered for sale commercially, for the time being, Siemens provides a compression service from its studios in Melbourne.


 Managing diverse information without programming

Information. It is the most useful resource of the 21st century. Its only limitation is our inability to manage and manipulate it to our benefit.

The need for a computer system which could manage dissimilar information from a wide variety of sources, that could utilise existing information, and manage entirely new types of additional information in the future, led to the development of a unique new type of software. The world's first spatial Meta-Model database, FINDAR is an information management tool that can be used to manage many different types of information without the need for any programming. It is based on ORACLE and designed around, but not limited to, corporate information management and directory functions.

FINDAR was developed jointly over a two year period by software engineers from Wizard Information Services Pty Limited and the National Resource Information Centre of the Australian Government Department of Primary Industries and Energy.

The database system enables the storage and searching of an almost limitless range of textual and spatial information. Users describe the information to be managed and the system is ready for use. FINDAR's powerful enquiry and thesaurus facilities combine to enable the user to find information from diverse sources, quickly and easily.

Information requirements can be changed at any time. This means that new information can be added as required, information previously considered unrelated can be searched for some common element, and existing information can be kept up to date. These and many other modifications can be done simply by users. The information currently stored and accessed by FINDAR users ranges from detailed environmental and resources information to product and general management information.

The possibilities for the application of this innovative product by business, research institutions and government appear only to be limited by the imagination.


 Looking a billion light years into space

For thousands of years people have been fascinated by the heavens, and with the mysteries of its star studded distant galaxies. Today's astronomers gaze the skies through massive and powerful radio-telescopes, focusing on radio rather than light waves. By linking many radio-telescopes around the world and creating a single super-telescope pointed at the skies, an instrument literally bigger than the earth has been created.

In 1995, a further step will extend this process one step further by launching a radio-telescope into an orbit around the earth, linked with the radio-telescopes on earth. This single telescope with a diameter seven times that of the earth, will be the most sensitive equipment of its type ever made, and will provide information from radio waves that untill now have been too weak to decipher - looking billions of years into space. This linking of radio-telescopes is known as very long base line interferometry, or VLBI.

The multi-national joint venture project between a dozen nations known as Radio Astron, is headquartered in Moscow, where the giant space telescope is being assembled. Dr David Jauncey from the CSIRO Division of Radiophysics led the Australian research team who developed the sensitive equipment in the very heart of Radio Astron.

It consists of a black box and a gold box, known as the "L" band receiver and amplifier, and will form the part of the telescope that picks up and amplifies the incredibly weak radio signals from space. The boxes are positioned on the bowl of an antennae and will be mounted externally on the spaceship. The equipment for this exciting earth station antennae, designed to withstand the extreme temperatures (-200 C) and pressures of space, was made by Mitec Ltd.


 New generation telephone exchange processor

Telephone exchanges now use some of the most powerful computer processors in the world. The need for powerful processors has been brought about by two developments in telephone systems: firstly, the trend towards using larger exchanges serving thousands of customers off a single telephone exchange and secondly, new services such as ISDN and mobile telephones.

To match these new processors, the software necessary to run modern telephone exchanges contain some of the largest and most complex programs ever written.

In 1987, senior hardware design engineer Tony Ash and a team of forty people was assembled at Ericsson Australia Pty Ltd to design a new processor and its related software. This processor, the APZ 211 10, one of the most sophisticated designs ever undertaken anywhere in the world, was also the largest capacity device of its kind ever produced.

The group decided to depart from convention and fit all of the main processing functions onto one computer chip - with 100,000 gates - and the memory control and switching interface on subsidiary chips. As a result of this decision, new design and manufacturing methodologies had to be introduced. The team had to master new skills and implement new techniques to design the processor.

After three years of development, the final design of the processor gate array was fabricated and measured only 12mm by 12mm, a remarkable achievement in miniaturisation.

Capable of switching 80 calls per second, the APZ 211 10 processor is used in Ericsson equipment around the world.


Public Notice: Due to an unresolved dispute with the Australian Trade Commission (Austrade), who copied and adopted as their own certain material from Tomorrow's World, the Australian Initiative, and published the material in their Australia Open for Business website, without remorse or recompense, access by Australian Government servers to this online edition has been blocked indefinitely.


Print Edition: ISBN 0646252119 - Paperback - 224 pages - 350 illustrations - $55.00 incl. GST.

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