Faculty of Engineering and Computing
A unique €16.4m technology partnership between UCD and DCU, supported by Cork’s Tyndall Institute, and funded by Science Foundation Ireland (SFI), aims to tame twenty-first century media information overload, facilitate improved health, and ensure that our environment is meeting tough standards being set to deliver a better quality of life.
SFI has provided €11.8m to the research centre called CLARITY, while industry and social partners are providing more than €4.6m in cash, facilities, services and personnel. IBM, Vodafone, Ericsson and Fidelity Investments are among the multinationals supporting this ambitious world-class project, as well as national agencies, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Marine Institute and the National Museum of Ireland.
The centre will be led by UCD’s Professor Barry Smyth. The Deputy Director will be DCU’s Professor Alan Smeaton as the two universities share responsibility for the new SFI research centre, CLARITY.
Building on research breakthroughs achieved with financial support from SFI and industry investments over the past four years, the centre will focus on empowering citizens through new technologies to harvest, refine and make use of the deluge of different kinds of information in the modern world.
Professor Alan Smeaton said: “With the use of smart sensing devices in the physical world - for example testing our health and wellness, the air we breathe and the water we drink, combined with new technologies to help us find the right information from the digital world - CLARITY will develop a new generation of smarter, more proactive information services and products which are set to improve our quality of life.
“These will include new ways to monitor the impact of exercise on health, technologies to support our aging population, innovative social and interactive media services to take advantage of emerging opportunities in the digital media sector, and technology that can automatically monitor the quality of our environment.”
This is a large-scale academic-industry collaboration with more than 90 full-time researchers and more than ten industrial partners, including major multinationals as well as emerging Irish companies.
CLARITY will develop a sustainable pipeline of 10 patents a year of high quality intellectual property (IP) with clear commercial potential. The educational-research development of the project will produce up to 45 new PhD graduates by 2012, providing Irish industry with access to critical knowledge capital, and contributing significantly to the Government target of doubling PhD output by 2013.
The President of DCU Professor Ferdinand von Prondzynski said, ”This is DCU’s third CSET award from SFI marking the university’s distinctive leadership in Ireland’s research revolution at third level institutions in recent years. CLARITY is also fulfilling a vital national requirement for quality research collaboration between institutions, focussed on commercial breakthroughs to the benefit of the Irish economy.”
DCU has won two other major CSET awards. The €23m Biomedical Diagnostics Institute was established in 2005 aiming to produce commercially viable “early warning” diagnostic devices for life threatening illnesses. Last year DCU won another €17m from SFI for a CSET next generation localisation, with multinational partners contributing a further €13m. This will underpin Ireland’s world-leading position in the localisation industry – the preparation of manuals and information materials in the local language where new technology products are used.
Economic background to CLARITY
The economic importance of personalised health is now recognised worldwide. For example the negative impact of obesity alone was estimated in 2005 to be about €4 billion. New disruptive technologies that become part of the emerging “wellness” concept will become hugely important in socio-economic terms. New products incorporating wearable sensors will initially be used on sports and exercise clothing and then trickle down to more common, everyday wear and will become commonplace over the next few years. The CLARITY team already has a significant track record in this field.
Climate change is now focusing attention on the environment as never before. It is estimated that the cost of tackling this issue will be of the order of €1 trillion. Under the next phase of the National Development Plan (2003-2013) the Irish Government have set aside €4.7 billion for water services alone. CLARITY researchers will build on existing links with the Environmental Protection Agency and the Marine Institute to develop new technologies to monitor targets effectively, unattended over extended periods. Investment in wireless sensor networks for environmental monitoring is happening world-wide.
In the digital media sector a recent Forfas report says: “indications are that the market size for digital media was worth at the very least $965 billion in 2004. Furthermore, estimates suggest that it will be worth at least $1.48 trillion by 2009, representing growth of more than 53% in the period.” It also says that “wireless and mobile service revenues for voice and data are expected to grow from $388 billion in 2003 to $529 billion in 2010, while wireless and mobile data services alone, are expected to grow from $55 billion in 2003 to $235 billion in 2010.”
Photo2: L-R Professor Alan Smeaton, DCU, Deputy Director of CLARITY CSET; Professor Frank Gannon, Director General SFI; and Professor Barry Smyth, UCD, Director of CLARITY CSET