For many, Australia Day is a time to fire up the BBQ and celebrate the great nation of Australia. This Australia Day, in the spirit of reflecting on Australia’s history, stories, and achievements, we’d like to take a moment to share some of the impressive technology innovations that have shaped the modern world that started right here.
Below, we outline seven IT inventions that you may not have realised have roots at home in Australia.
It’s hard to imagine life without “wireless fidelity”—or WiFi, as it’s commonly known. In the 1990s, before smartphones and wireless devices, major communication companies were struggling to introduce wireless networking technology. Reverberation, where radio waves bounce around the environment and distort the signal, was an ongoing problem.
The CSIRO began working on a plan to create a wireless local area network (WLAN) unencumbered by reverberation, with Aussie scientists John O’Sullivan, Terry Percival, Diet Ostry, Graham Daniels and John Deane leading the research. This team found a way to get wireless signals to their destination without interruption, and WiFi as we know it was born, patented in 1996.
You likely use it every time you venture out to a new location, but Google Maps, which turns 16 next month, actually has solid Aussie roots.
In 2003, Danish-born, Sydney-based brothers Jens and Lars Rasmussen co-founded a mapping startup called Where 2 Technologies. The company, co-founded with Stephen Ma and Noel Gordon, was sold to Google in 2004, and launched as Google Maps in the US in 2005.
Now compulsory on all commercial flights, the very first flight recorder, or black box, was invented in 1958. David Warren, a research scientist at Melbourne’s Aeronautical Research Laboratory, got the idea for a flight recorder in the 1950s when he was part of a team investigating the cause of a deadly commercial aircraft crash. He thought it would have helped to have heard a recording of the last conversations between crew and other sounds inside the plane before it crashed. Australia was also the first country to make the black box compulsory on all flights.
Every parent that’s seen the first glimpse of their baby by ultrasound can thank Australian scientists for their efforts. The Ultrasonic Research Group was founded in the 1950s following concerns about the effects of X-rays on pregnant women. In 1961, David Robinson and George Kossoff built the world’s first commercial ultrasound scanner.
A more recent invention, in 2011 the precursor to CSIRO’s Data61 group, National ICT Australia (NICTA), developed an operating system kernel that could distinguish between trusted and untrusted software to prevent hackers from accessing computer systems. The seL4 micro-kernel was designed to stop attacks like code injection, where hackers inject malware code into vulnerable applications to gain control of an application and network.
Developers claim seL4 is the world’s first operating system (OS) kernel that is mathematically proved to be secure, besides being the fastest and most advanced OS microkernel. It is freely available and open source. In the future, it may be used in commercial products, but right now is deployed in a number of projects worldwide.
Australia is leading the world when it comes to the future of computing. Quantum physics might hold the key to computers that can be a million times more powerful than existing machines. A team of Australian scientists developed the world’s first quantum bit or qubit in 2012. A qubit can exist in both the 0 and 1 binary states at once, and physicists believe this will allow quantum computers to work on a million calculations at once, while a normal computer can only handle one. Since then, Australia has developed a quantum computing hub in Sydney, researchers at the University of New South Wales made further breakthroughs in 2018, and the CSIRO is positioning Australia as a world leader in this technology.
With a strong history and current focus on innovation, there’s no doubt that more technology breakthroughs will be on this list in the future. From network infrastructure to cloud storage, data security, and more, there are plenty of IT challenges that need solving each day. If you’d like to find out more about how technology can work for your business, contact the IT experts at StormWarden.