Technology advancement and technology driven disruption is expected to experience exponential growth in the coming decades. Although Australian agriculture has a strong track record of technology integration, the speed of technology innovation makes the scanning and identification of high impact emerging technology a priority for Australian rural industries. This report responds to this priority, and presents the outcomes of a methodology to scan, synthesise and communicate technology trends and innovations that may impact Australian rural industries. In this first iteration, a broad range of category and discrete technology types have been identified. Led by data mining and synthesis, and assisted by QUT experts and innovative individuals identified by RIRDC, a sub-set of these technologies has been refined. Presented in this report are the most highly rated technologies, positioned at the confluence and fringes of technology megatrends including the Internet of Things, big data, artificial intelligence and advanced sensors.
DIGITAL TWIN A digital twin is a dynamic software model that represents a physical asset or process. Generated by sensors installed in physical assets and processes, a digital twin allows a user to view and act on real-time data remotely. Simulations can be run using a digital twin to predict asset or process failure. Increasing implementation of smart devices means that digital twins can potentially represent highly complex processes and be transformative in nearly all industries.
LOW POWER WIDE AREA NETWORKS Low power wide area networks (LPWAN) support communication between sensors and smart devices. We have highlighted a type of LPWAN called LoRaWAN. LoRaWAN technology uses unlicensed radio frequencies and therefore can support the interoperability of smart devices and sensors without reliance on cellular networks. This positions LoRaWAN as a significant technology for supporting Internet of Things systems in remote locations.
SOLAR RETRANSMISSION Solar retransmission is a patented technology for using satellite technology to capture and retransmit sunlight for use on Earth. The sunlight is captured in space and then retransmitted in frequency bands optimal for photosynthesis. This technology is viewed as an expansion on the capabilities of precision agriculture and sits alongside proposals for lunar-based solar energy and mineral collection.
PERSONAL ANALYTICS Personal analytics technologies monitor personal activity and behaviour. Two implementations of personal analytics technologies are presented. Labour tracking leverages personal analytics technologies, such as wearable sensor devices, to track worker fatigue, stress, and movement. Smart contact lenses are an emerging personal analytics technology. Worn just like normal contact lenses, they are capable of monitoring biometric signals, as well as enhancing vision with augmented reality. Smart contact lenses represent the emergence of nanosensors for personal analytics and labour tracking. The innovation of unobtrusive wearable devices that use nanosensors is potentially transformative in a range of domains.
Successive iterations of the methodology will be employed in future reporting periods to supplement the already identified technologies. Findings will continue to be extrapolated to clearly communicate the transferability and subsequent impact of key emerging technologies for Australian rural industries.