Optus and Google shark detection system hunts down an IPO

Optus and Google's 'Clever Buoy' sonar shark-detection system provides alerts of sharks in the water via satellite and Google+.
Written by Corinne Reichert, Contributor

Optus and Google's "Clever Buoy", a system that combines sonar, satellite, and mobile networks to bring greater water safety through shark detection, is one step closer to commercial launch after Shark Mitigation Systems, the company behind the product, announced its initial public offering (IPO).

Shark Mitigation Systems will be listing on the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX), with its IPO hoping to raise AU$4 million through the sale of 20 million shares at AU$0.20 per share.

The Clever Buoy, which was recently tested at Sydney's Bondi Beach, is equipped with a rechargeable battery powering the sonar below, as well as a microprocessor to analyse the sonar data. The sonar detects "shark-like objects" in the water nearby, according to Optus.

"We're reusing commercial software that's already used in the oil and gas industry to prevent seals and other mammals from getting into subsea turbines, and then we're calibrating that software to be able to hunt for the sonar signature of a live shark," explained Hamish Jolly from Shark Mitigation Systems.

Once a shark is detected, the buoy sends a signal via its onboard two-way Inmarsat IsatData Pro satellite service over a secure channel through the Optus network.

Optus' satellite division owns the largest number of satellites covering Australia and NZ, with six satellites in orbit providing coverage to the region.

The shark-detection data is also shared over its mobile network via Google+.

The companies are currently undertaking further research and development (R&D) on the project before they commercialise the technology, which they hope to sell to local governments, shires, resorts, private beaches, and the aquaculture industry.

"The community demand is for regional or beach-based deterrence, and it's still in R&D, but if we're successful with this, we may solve a big slab of the shark mitigation or shark attack problem off our beaches," Jolly said.

(Image: Screenshot by Corinne Reichert/ZDNet)

Shark Mitigation Systems co-founder Craig Anderson added that the process is non-invasive, and causes no harm to sharks.

Shark Mitigation Systems has also developed what it calls a "visual-deterrent technology".

In partnership with the University of Western Australia, the company designed a pattern that disrupts sharks' ability to visually detect their prey and presents wearers as unpalatable or dangerous.

The pattern can be used on neoprene wetsuits, divers' air tanks, surfboards, and subsea cables.

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