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Posted: 15 April 2008

Minister Martin announces €16.4 million investment for adaptive sensing and information discovery

Mr. Micheál Martin, T.D, the Minister for Enterprise Trade and Employment announced the establishment of CLARITY a new Science Foundation Ireland Centre for Science, Engineering and Technology (CSET) on 15 April 2008. This ground breaking research centre will focus on the so-called ‘Sensor Web’, which captures the intersection between two important research areas – Adaptive Sensing and Information Discovery.

Pictured far right: Micheal Martin, T.D, Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment (centre left), Professor Barry Smyth, UCD Director of CLARITY CSET (centre right); Professor Frank Gannon, Director General SFI (far right) and Professor Alan Smeaton DCU, Deputy Director of CLARITY CSET (left)

Led by Professor Barry Smyth, the CLARITY CSET is a partnership between University College Dublin and Dublin City University, supported by research at the Tyndall National Institute (TNI) Cork. CLARITY is a collaboration between a number of specialist teams across the institutions who have already strong track records in sensor technology. It builds on work undertaken by the SFI-funded Adaptive Information Cluster, which is led by 7 principal investigators from UCD and DCU.  Six of these PIs, including the director of CLARITY, Barry Smyth, and deputy director, Professor Alan Smeaton (DCU) are core participants in the new CSET. 

The CLARITY team includes: Director, Professor Barry Smyth, UCD and founder of ChangingWorlds; Deputy Director, Professor Alan Smeaton, DCU; Dr Noel O’Connor, DCU; Professor Paddy Nixon, UCD, Mr Greg O’Hare; UCD, Dr Simon Dobson, UCD; Professor Dermot Diamond, DCU; Dr Cian O’Mathuna, Tyndall Institute; Professor Niall Moyna, DCU and Dr Brian Caulfield, UCD.

Professor Barry Smyth, UCD Director of CLARITY CSET (right); Professor Frank Gannon, Director General SFI (centre) and Professor Alan Smeaton DCU, Deputy Director of CLARITY CSET (left)
Professor Barry Smyth, UCD Director of CLARITY CSET (right); Professor Frank Gannon, Director General SFI (centre) and Professor Alan Smeaton DCU, Deputy Director of CLARITY CSET (left)

In total, over 90 highly skilled personnel will be working to deliver the CLARITY research programme.  

In addition, CLARITY will collaborate with leading multinationals and SMEs including: IBM, Vodafone, Ericsson, Foster-Miller, ChangingWorlds, Fidelity Investments and Critical Path, as well as national agencies, such as the Environmental Protection Agency, the Marine Institute and the National Museum of Ireland.

Total investment in CLARITY will amount to €16.4 million, of which Science Foundation Ireland through the CSET programme will contribute €11.8 million. CLARITY’s primary industry partners will make a significant contribution collectively of over €4.6 million by contributing personnel, funding, equipment, infrastructure and services.

The core aim of this innovative research centre is ‘bringing information to life’. In effect, it will use sensors to bridge the gap between the physical world and digital information.  "Sensors help us to learn more about ourselves and the world in which we live, and the next generation of sensor technologies will be cheap, connected and reliable, enabling exciting new application areas,” said Professor Barry Smyth, Director of CLARITY.

“Already we have developed wearable sensors which are built into clothes that can monitor the posture of the wearer, helping back-pain prone people who spend long periods hunched over pcs to improve their seated posture,” he explained. “We also have networks of sensors that are capable of monitoring water quality with a view to identifying and signaling potential pollution. One of our next projects is to work with Tennis Ireland to develop a sensor environment to monitor the movement of players. This will be of great training benefit to athletes and coaches and will lead to new opportunities in public health as well as elite sport.”

“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,” said DCU’s Professor Alan Smeaton. “CLARITY will develop a new generation of smarter, simpler and more proactive information services as well as commercial products which are set to improve our quality of life, from monitoring the impact of exercise on health, new technologies to support our aging population, and innovative ways to protect the quality of our environment.” 

“This investment will establish CLARITY as a truly unique world-class multidisciplinary research centre,” said Minister Martin announcing the funding. “By linking academic researchers with industry partners in Ireland, SFI CSETs such as CLARITY will play a significant role in building Ireland’s new knowledge-driven economy. By graduating 45 PhD students, CLARITY will provide Irish based companies with access to highly skilled individuals that will play a key role generating new products and innovations in industry”.

“This unique SFI CSET will develop innovative new information technologies of critical importance to Ireland’s future industry base in areas such as personal health, digital media and in the management of our environment. CLARITY will seek to develop new tools to address the issue of information overload and assist people in accessing information,” continued the Minister.

“The team we have brought together in CLARITY provides a unique combination of multi-disciplinary expertise that is essential to make significant progress in this new field."

“To succeed in our research efforts it is not enough to strengthen our academic capability and output,” said Professor Frank Gannon, Director General of SFI. “It is also necessary to develop more research performing companies with a sharper focus on the commercialisation of publicly-funded research.”

“All SFI CSETs have been established to create highly competitive academic research linking academia and industry as part of our effort to create and sustain a lasting indigenous research base. Expectations are high for CLARITY and I am confident they will be met under the distinguished leadership of Professor Barry Smyth whose track record with ChangingWorlds is certainly a cause for optimism,” he said.

The funding commitment was made in accordance with the highest standards of research investment and follows a rigorous review process by international scientific experts and a strategic review process involving representatives from Enterprise Ireland, IDA, Forfás, the Health Research Board and the Higher Education Authority.

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Minister Martin announces €16.4 million investment for adaptive sensing and information discovery
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