China uses technology to improve safety of coal mines, train system
Saturday, 25 February 2012 | 00:00
China is developing a wireless sensor network that could improve the safety of its coal mines and reduce the number of hi-speed train accidents.
It would also make possible other applications, such real-time traffic information and location-based services.
The development is expected to increase the market value of the high tech industry to US$78 billion by the end of 2015.
China's mines are among the deadliest in the world. Last year, more than 2,400 workers died in accidents.
The Chinese authorities are hoping technology will help them reduce the number of accidents.
Researchers at a research institute in Wuxi are developing a network of sensors that will monitor human operations, gas leakages and water seepages - all in real time.
Shen Jie, assistant to the president at the Wuxi SensingNet Industrialization Research Institute, explained: "For example, if an area is prone to collapse, there will be a change in density. A gas explosion takes places when gases build up to a certain pressure. So if the sensor network is able to accurately pick up these trends in advance, we can do a very scientific prediction."
The monitoring system can also be used to improve China's high-speed rail system within the next two to three years.
Mr Shen Jie said: "The high-speed train system has to effectively integrate real-time monitoring of weather changes, rail tracks, and the train operation itself. "
The sensor network can also be applied in other areas such as agriculture and smart phones.
Zhang Wei, general manager of Memsic Semiconductor (Wuxi), said: "This is a very huge market with many applications. Besides mobile phones, the magnetic sensor can also be used in the medical and aviation industries."
Business is booming for technology companies making components used for the network.
This includes new magnetic sensors for location-based services.
From looking for potential dates in the area to looking for nearby restaurants and cafes, location-based services are increasingly popular. And demand for the components behind new magnetic sensors in phones has doubled over the last year and is expected to increase even more moving forward.
There is a huge potential in the Chinese market. Furthermore, one can also email one's current location to family and friends.
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