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Sixth sense: How visionary Slattery plans to help us see around corners

Business

Tech entrepreneur Bevan Slattery has forecast FiberSense would one day be bigger than 5G.

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Don’t get too carried away. He thinks 5G has been overhyped, but FiberSense and its ability to allow cars to see around blind corners and tell a council when a pothole has developed was going to be ubiquitous, Slattery said.

FiberSense, the tech company which Slattery chairs, had a Series A funding round earlier this year and brought in rich-listers like Ruslan Kogan and Icon Cancer Care founder Stuart Giles, Goldman Sachs Australia chief executive, Simon Rothery and Brisbane investor Jordan Grives.

A Series B round is expected soon and it’s likely it will have an ASX listing at some point.

FiberSense uses VIDAR, or vibration detection and ranging through fibre cables, and would allow cities to create a digital twin so governments can see what’s occurring in real time on their streets.

“It’s huge. It’s the first decent deep tech I have seen,’’ Slattery said.

“A bunch of municipalities like San Francisco, they really love how there are no cameras taking photos of faces or licence plates.

“We can give them a whole lot of information of what’s going on in that city – construction road works, potholes forming, rain on roads and things like that.

“But what they love about it is that there are no cameras on it and no facial recognition and picking up people. 

“A year ago, maybe two, we had blind-corner assist. It was something we developed for autonomous vehicles. It’s a phone app, but it will get integrated into your Tesla or Ford or Audi,’’ he said.

“As these autonomous vehicles come towards an intersection they can only see what they can see. What they can’t see is a car screaming down. 

“One thing we are able to do today is if there is fibre in that street, then even if the car can’t see we are already alerting it to the car coming towards that intersection.

“They already see the car before they can see the car, so to speak.

“When you do that in a city context it’s really important for autonomous vehicles because it could be 20 or 30 years before all cars are connected and you really need to be able to see not just the smart cars but also a 2000 Celica.’’

Slattery’s other big project is HyperOne, the data cabling project that will significantly boost connectivity in regional Australia.

Construction for the project is expected later this year and Slattery’s CaptialB office is in the process of applying for funding from the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility for debt.

Slattery said it will need private equity as well and he anticipates the hunger for infrastructure assets will bring organisations like superannuation funds.

“We have finalised the design, we are still tweaking things with customers about certain routes to make it more attractive and more useful for them, which should be done in the next four weeks,’’ he said.

“One of the key benefits is that it is time Australia had a big upgrade to its (data) backbone to allow all of its cables to come in and provide more connectivity.

“This is about helping the undersea cables to the big data centres and the big users. The second part is that when these networks were built 20 years ago there was very little data on a phone back then.

“It was just voice and SMS. The networks were built for a different time when there was no cloud and no real phone data.

“We are not competing here with the NBN. We are not building local access networks.

“Mobile operators will probably get access to the fibre so they can provide access to people in regional Australia.

“It will benefit satellite and space. Satellite is going to be incredibly disruptive over the next three years for remote access services but they still need to be fed by fibre at the end of the day.’’

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