Sensing Advanced Data Flows

By Chance Murray

This panel at the FiRe conference brought together experts from different fields like digitizing smells,quantifying underwater sound travel, and discovering seismic explosions. They were brought together by the world of sensors, which is reaching new heights and depths.

“We’re trying to recreate a dog in a device,” said Chris Hanson, Founder and CEO of Aromyx.

Aromyx’s technology digitizes smell and taste by creating sensors that mimic biosensors in the human nose and tongue. The application of such technology is significant. Bomb dogs at security points could be complemented or even replaced by devices employing such technologies.

Noise pollution in the ocean has been on the rise to due increased movement of goods around the world. Roger Payne, Whale Scientist and Founder/President of Ocean Alliance, has been studying the physics of whale songs.

“In an unpolluted ocean, we determined that whale songs can reach as far as 13,000 miles due to the unique physics of such ocean depths,” said Payne.

Current sensors to monitor whale activity, commonly known as “critter cams,” provide only a static view of what whales see. Payne elaborated on a sensory device that would connect to whales and project a camera when sensors indicate another organism is nearby. This device would collect important information about the whales’ habits and environment, and would be powered by ocean currents rotating a small turbine incorporated into the device.  

John Delaney, Professor at the School of Oceanography, University of Washington, elaborated on a sensory device 400 KM off the Oregon coast that measures tectonic plate activity. The device sends 14 minutes of video, every 3 hours of each day. Among the highlights of data flow collected by the device is an underwater volcanic eruption, the audio of which Delaney played for the audience.

“We’ve never heard anything like this before,” said Delaney.

He then introduced a design for a series of sensors to be placed along the Pacific Rim that would provide flows of data regarding tectonic plate activity. The series would span the entire northwestern coast, a comparable technology to what Japan installed not too long ago.

“We can choose to invest in these sensors now, enabling us to capture valuable information about tectonic activity in the coastal region, or choose to incur the cost of reconstruction after a significant earthquake,” said Delaney.

To discover more or read other articles from the conference, visit or our Medium blog.