A number of industries share a common problem of detecting and localising the presence of surface defects and features, perhaps as the result of accidental damage or deliberate tampering. Examples might include detecting attempts to access a container or tank, sabotage a pipeline, or bullet holes in armour, but could also extend to locating people and machinery on a factory floor.
We have developed gekko, a patented technology that sends radiofrequency signals using surface waves; a form of radio wave that can propagate across a surface without radiating away from it. The waves are bound to a specially-treated surface and in the air very close to it, and tend to remain bound even when the surface is curved or has corners and small gaps. Specially-designed launchers placed on or close to the surface are used to inject and sense signals, and can be connected to traditional radio transmitters and receivers just like any normal communications or radar system. High-bandwidth data can also be passed between the launchers, for applications that require secure communications.
The gekko surface treatment can be applied to most smooth surfaces to make them smart enough to sense the presence and position of defects, even around curves and corners. The same surfaces can also be used to carry secure communications over long distances if required. This technology is being licensed for a range of potential applications.