Scotland has a proud tradition of producing some of the world's most forward-thinking minds in science and technology.
It's well documented that the country has produced some of the world's greatest inventors and inventions. Once again, Scotland has a unique opportunity to be at the forefront of advances with the ability to change the world.
Much has been made of the potential of two inter-related trends to revolutionise the way we live, work and consume. The first of these, known as the Internet of Things, is a concept where uniquely identifiable objects communicate with one another.
This will allow different products to communicate their status to one another and mean, for example, businesses can better manage logistics or households could better manage the grocery shopping. General Electric, one of the world's leading companies, says it believes the Internet of Things could add between $10 trillion and $15tr to global GDP by 2035. At the lower end of the scale, that's equivalent to adding another China to the world economy.
In a similar fashion, Industry4.0 could herald big changes to the workplace. It's a European initiative that will define the next generation of manufacturing technology. It aims to link processes and equipment in and between factories, allowing them to communicate with one another more effectively, leading to greater automation and mass customisation.
Small, low-cost, low-power electronics will be crucial to making these ideas a reality. That's where sensors and imaging system technology, as well as Scotland's opportunity, come in to play.
We have a perfect set of circumstances that, if properly harnessed, could make Scotland a world leader in these trends. Our academic excellence and history of scientific research, combined with the presence of a number of potential end-users, make it an ideal launching pad for the sensors and imaging systems to make advances in this technology happen. CENSIS, the Scottish Centre for Sensors and Imaging Systems, was established to bring all these ingredients together. We aim to help Scottish companies and academics harness these trends and help them produce the technology to make them work.
Sensors and imaging systems allow the monitoring of a broad range of data from diverse applications, spanning advanced industrial systems to everyday life, whether that's air quality, patient health or traffic flow. That information can be interpreted to manage and improve a number of given outcomes.
We've been facilitating and funding projects with Scotland's network of universities and businesses to bring together their expertise in a way that will apply academic excellence to real-world challenges. Through advances in this technology, we hope to make Scotland's business community more efficient and competitive.
Recently, we worked with Optos and Glasgow University on a project that combined their expertise and helped to fund research that tests the possibilities of increasing the scope and image quality of eye scanners. A further breakthrough in this technology could change the way optical imaging is undertaken worldwide, and might also be used to make complex eye exams more accessible to remote locations and the developing world.
We want more people and organisations to be involved at all stages. Thanks to funding from the Scottish Funding Council, we're offering 20 fee-free places for qualified students on a joint Master of Science in Sensor and Imaging Systems course at Glasgow and Edinburgh universities.
One of Scotland's leading higher education institutions will have the research capabilities required to investigate a solution and CENSIS will work to develop these projects.
We want to translate Scotland's potential into reality and propel it to the forefront of world science. To truly make the most of the trends that are on the horizon, we need everyone to be involved.