A sample of my projects, start ups and clients I've worked with
Artificial Intelligence System Assessment
We received an urgent call from an international defence contractor with an immediate need to assess several AI solutions as potential components in a much larger system development. Exhaustive testing in the laboratory (and in the field) was precluded by the combinatorial complexity posed by thousands of fixed and mobile assets resulting in outputs to hundreds of networked nodes.
So our challenge was to come up with a means of comparison based upon the overall ability of each system.
To this end we derived an entropic measure of comparative intelligence based upon the number of sensors/inputs, actuators/outputs, processing power and memory. This was expressed as a relatively simple logarithmic formulation.
An accurate assessment and system choice was made in a matter of days and our formulation has now been used in other contexts to assess networked systems.
Banking Online Security
One of the world’s biggest global banking groups asked us to address the progressively weakening security of the online world with people now using a range of devices that they own, or not, in a variety of fixed and mobile locations, in a wired or wireless mode.
We were asked to improve online banking security by at least 1000 fold without any visible changes to the customer
operation and the customer operation and experience, with no software downloads, dongles, cards or card readers.
Our study and developments resulted in 22 proposed systems designed to meet this specification to varying degrees of ‘visibility’ returning security improvement gains ranging from 10,000 to over 1,000,000.
A solution based on covert real-time biometric measurement was adopted and rolled out globally. This returned a 10,000 fold improvement with a low cost investment in software development and installation within the bank online servers.
Gas Pipeline Protection
Terrorism, crime and vandalism are critical threats to many vital installations world-wide. Detecting an impending attack well in advance is of great value in terms of maintaining the integrity of supplies and investment.
Our mission was to design a system that could be deployed over hundreds of miles, detect and signal an impending attack to give a defending force a 30 minute lead of action.
Our approach involved the use of a number of novel technologies capable of detecting an approaching threat from over the horizon up to the point of contact. The treat could be on foot, a ground based or airborne vehicle.The Outcome:
The entire design is to be deployed along with additions and enhancements developed by a range of suppliers.
Innovation in Defence
An International Defence Manufacturer had drifted into becomming a systems integrator - meeting a narrow set of customer demands. A high dependendency on the innovation of others and OEM suppliers was evident and a primary limier to the business. At the same time the demands of governments and modern warfare were expanding and this dictated a return to innovation and invention. Creating a workable framework involved addressing future demands spanning 0 – 2 years, 2 – 7 years, and 7 – 12 years, plus the creation of an ‘invisible’ skunk works. The major problems and limitations were human and a culture honed to address proven demands and signed contracts. To break away a new organisation was required and a number of ‘right minded’individuals and units were targeted, along with a recruitment drive and SME acquisitions. This facilitated the attainment of a critical mass as quickly as possible.The Outcome:
A full-scale return to in-house innovation, development and design with an almost immediate impact on market perception and return on investment. The company increasingly looks capable of prospering in a rapidly changing defence world that now sees the attack surface as the entire planet.
An operation focused on the welfare of children had become aware of a growing disconnect and creeping inefficiency that they could ill afford.
Our mission was to comb through their operations and find ways in which they could better connect with their subjects of concern and affect solutions at a far lower cost.
We immediately identified that they had a conventional telephone call centre as their primary channel whilst the children were using IM and TXT. Also, the IT operations were all in-house and far more expensive than available on the open market. They had also omitted to identify the value of their vast history and meta-data + case histories and situation modelling.The Outcome:
They have opened up a TXT channel, and will shortly have people on IM. They are also moving into The Cloud and examining mobile working and new device ownership models and working modes. Meta data examination and situation modelling is also on their to-do list.
Oil Rig Instrumentation
A major international Oil Rig Operator required the (internal) instrumentation of major critical components including operational pumps and gear boxes for vibration, temperature and chemical signs of overloading, wear and approaching malfunction conditions. Batteries, wires and slip rings were not an option and a wireless solution was required. Solving this problem involved the study of numerous wireless technologies and the calculation of field distributions in non-static cavities.
The final engineered solution employed a 1kW magnetron (aka microwave oven) to illuminate the machine cavities where the sensors where located on moving mechanical components. Each sensor was equipped with an antenna, diode and capacitor to extract energy from the injected field. This powered all the sensor electronics including a transmitter capable of real time information download.The Outcome:
A full-scale deployment resulting in a significant enhancement of operational data and gains in plant efficiencies through fewer down times and more accurate scheduling of repairs.
Paper Manufacturing Futures
Traditional paper manufacturers make paper – plain paper – with very little value-add, and we were asked to look at the potential for expanding the product range of an established product line.
As one of the biggest players in the market this company had sensed that new opportunities were abroad but did not have the skill set to identify and quantify the scale.
Our recommendations include the study of: Paper Based - ticketing, RFID, Near Field, Sensors, Batteries, Displays, eInk, Photo-Voltaics, Nano Structures, Bio-Saturation, Tags, Fuel, Packaging, Clothing, and all forms of passive and active paper formats.The Outcome:
A rebalancing of the budget, business plan, and a widening of the R&D program leading to a range of new "high value add" products.
EU Phone Company FTTH
The demands of mobility and the internet are precursors to the bandwidth demands of cloud computing, and phone/network companies are struggling with the practicalities of optical fibre roll out to provide future services.
The major difficulty for established network operators with a copper and wireless networks is getting the optical technology & operational choices correct and in line with a business plan that will cost in for new roll out, copper replacement and upgrade. So, we designed and engineered a system for this telco that gave all customers a dark fibre feed and an initial 1Gbit/s symmetric service at affordable prices. It also had to return a positive ROI immediately with substantial reductions in OPEX and CAPEX. This involved radical choices including the adoption on non-telco equipment practices and the closure of the PSTN.The Outcome:
All business customers now have Fibre To The Office @ 1Gbit/s both ways and the roll out to domestic dwellings is now underway.
Sniper Spotting Using Pre-Microphone Acoustic Filters
The extreme levels of variable and impulsive noise experienced during war, disasters, and some public events often render low level audio signals difficult to recover. Standard solutions see post microphone filtering and signal processing suffering the limitations of acoustically saturated diaphragms returning non-linear distortion and constrained dynamic range. Listening for insurgents, vehicle movements, and specific weapons such as sniper rifles is extremely demanding. Noise levels can exceed the threshold of pain for prolonged or short ‘burst’ periods, whilst similarly presenting long periods of almost total silence. We overcame these challenges with close-coupled pre-microphone acoustic filters designed to select the required spectrum and reject unwanted acoustic energy. Significantly improved dynamic range, directivity and gain were achieved with the aid of a CAD package we also developed for the detailed design of these filters.The Outcome:
A high degree of agreement between simulation and trial equipments with vastly improved dynamic range for microphones in extremely noisy environments. Sniper detection demonstrated with equipments close to a 50 cal machine gun in continuous and burst mode.
Strategic Threat Analysis for Turbine Manufacturing
A leading turbine manufacturer asked a basic question; where is the threat to our products our future and our industry coming from?
This company had a large presence in gas and jet turbines for aerospace, marine and power generation and had rightly sensed that some ‘stage left threat’ might be building up. We quickly identified and quantified the scale, timing and market entry of the primary threat.
In the 5 years that followed that assessment has turned out to be accurate in scale and timing. This includes the forecast that micro-turbines may well become a new industrial sector for the powering of high efficiency automobile engines and localised home power generation.
We correctly identified the ‘hobby and amateur sector’ as one where the increasing availability of low cost computer controlled machines and machine tools meant that someone with the right skill level could produce small to micro turbines in their garage. To be specific: A computer controlled lathe, miller, grinder, shaper and post drill are now cheaper than a family car.The Outcome:
Steps were taken to retain key staff and protect critical technologies, specialized materials and IP. This coming threat was also factored into the business planning cycle.
Next Generation Military Radios
An overseas organisation called to see if we could address how military radios might evolve to meet the future needs of a modern fighting force. After an initial meeting we undertook a feasibility study and started by looking at the ‘working environment’ for land, sea and airforces, and the need for reliable and effortless networking/interworking. We quickly identified a multi—SDR (Software Defined Radio) solution capable of full compatible with existing operating standards, but with the capability to do much more. Also identified; was the need to remove as many knobs, switches, and dials as possible to simplify the overall operation.
The need for voice activation, mesh networking, the generation of false traffic and new modes with signals below thermal noise (undetectable) were also identified along with the use of just sufficient energy in TX mode, and multi-GHz communication for short range applications.The Outcome:
The client accepted our final report, vetoed further publication and distribution, and started collaborating with developers and allies. We await any further involvement.