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New Distributed Optical Fibre Sensors For Future IoT Society

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - DIFFUSE (New Distributed Optical Fibre Sensors For Future IoT Society)

Reporting period: 2017-09-01 to 2018-08-31

The idea of the optical fibre distributed sensors follows a global trend in the global market for sensors. The optical fibre distributed sensors allow to monitor critical infrastructure and manufacturing processes. Within the project we answer the European and global demand for reliable optical fibre sensing system, driven by the need of connecting more and more sensors into IoT (Internet of Things), integration and miniaturisation of sensors, as well as the demand for accurate and early diagnosis devices in an effort to increase safety in industry. These requirements can be met by distributed fiber optic sensors, which, according to continuous customer feedback and market research, have experienced significant growth over the past few years. The possibility of continuously monitoring strain, temperature or vibrations along tens of kilometres, featuring thousands of sensing points in a single optical fibre turns out to be very attractive for industrial applications.

The main project objective was to boost the company’s innovation capacity by conducting research on new optical fibre distributed sensors. This required development of the specialised skillset within the company on optical fibre phenomena such as Rayleigh, Raman, and Brillouin scattering. Hence the main goal was to overcome barriers of recruitment of highly specialised researcher and to recruit the specialist, who was an initiator of the innovation potential growth in InPhoTech.
The project implementation can be divided into two steps. The first of these included the specialist employment process and the training organization. The second one was related to the market research, the precision of system parameters, the concept of the system and the development of the future product strategy.
Firstly, the work began with the recruitment procedure. An open competition for the position of Associate Innovation was created. A recruitment committee was established that was responsible for the recruitment process. Taking into account the applicant's full compliance with the assessment criteria, the selection committee decided to accept the candidate. Then, core and tailored trainings were organised. A total of 4 three-day core trainings were completed in Berlin (2 times), Munich and Madrid. The core training included industrial innovation and business management. The tailored training program was mainly related to specialized fiber optics technology and their business capabilities. The training has strengthened technical, business and managerial skills.
The implementation of the second step of the project started with the market research of sensors and consumer needs. Of all the interesting new opportunities that fiber-optic sensors can bring, the main market trends and needs are focused on the real-time identification of acoustic events, and temperature monitoring systems. Distributed Acoustic Sensor (DAS) technology allows transforming a single optical fiber into a “distributed microphone”, featuring thousands of sensing points (virtual microphones) along tens of kilometers of fiber. By sending a pulsed beam into the fiber and analyzing the changes in the backscattered light, we are able to continuously address and locate changes in the current state of every single sensing point along the entire fiber link. The intrinsic fast response of this sensing technology allows real-time measuring of sound and/or vibrations of frequencies up to several kilohertz, which serves to characterize the events taking place along the sensing range.
The final stage of the project was to develop a strategy for further product development. InPhoTech’s strategy when facing a ground-breaking project is to develop the technology for a specific need, tailoring the product to the customers need. Especially, among the applications where DAS functionalities are extremely advantageous, one can find:
− Border control and military applications
− Civil infrastructures: Telecom, energy, water, and transportation
− Oil & Gas: Pipeline integrity, refinery monitoring
− Residential areas surveillance
The DIFFUSE project has enabled the strengthening of technical, business and managerial skills within the company structure. This effect was achieved by organizing trainings within the project and by employing a foreign specialist. The project will provide long-term benefits, such as the possibility of developing new concepts, joint projects and business opportunities.

The effect of the project was to specify the clients' requirements. A feasibility study was prepared, and various methods of detection and sensing architectures were correlated with the needs and requirements of the customers. The most promising solutions were identified, followed by an experimental evaluation of the selected solutions. On this basis, as well as based on the knowledge and information gathered during the trainings, a final strategy for further product development has been developed.