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Data-by-audio whizzes Chirp palmed £100k to keep working with EDF

Power plant sensors to continue squeaking at engineers

By Richard Priday

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Data-over-sound chaps Chirp and energy company EDF have been given £100,000 in funding by the UK government to advance their trials in sound-based sensors for nuclear power stations.

Chirp has been around since 2011, when it was born from research at UCL. It launched its image, link and text-sending app for consumers in 2012, but now licenses its tech to businesses for uses such as payments, toys and ticketing.

EDF has been working with Chirp at its Heysham 1 power station in Lancashire since October 2017, but they have explored the technology together since 2016. The new money from the government's Innovate UK agency will be used to test new applications for the sensor technology.

Chirp's equipment uses sound to send signals from difficult-to-reach areas in the station to its computer network, making the lives of the plant's engineers far easier in a location where electromagnetic signals are not permitted due to worries about inteference and cybersecurity.

EDF project manager Dave Stanley said: "Wi-Fi and mobile communications are common in most workplaces but not on our stations. Wi-Fi and mobile networks are not typically used in nuclear stations. So having a way of getting regular and reliable data from remote instruments in radio-restricted areas will be useful for our engineers."

Dr Dan Jones, Chirp's chief science officer said: "The first phase of our engagement with EDF Energy was a resounding success. We were set a serious challenge, and it passed with flying colours." ®

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