Da Vinci’s codes to innovation

Van Gogh, like many of history’s great pioneers, did not receive the recognition that he would deserve until after his death. No lucky break for a man with a missing appendage.

Van Gogh, like many of history’s great pioneers, did not receive the recognition that he would deserve until after his death. No lucky break for a man with a missing appendage.

More often than not, the greatest innovators won’t be recognised for their miraculous contributions to science until late in life, if not posthumously. As engineers, we know that developing custom commercialised electronics, despite the plethora of cool applications and practical efficiencies they may bring, isn’t the easiest path to celebrity. We’re too busy for any of that anyway, with our heads down in the lab, there’s always a problem we’re endeavouring to solve with a bit of nimble handiwork and some good mathematics on our side. We like to think this passion for problem-solving is something we share with history’s forefathers of the sciences, which is why our product codenames pay homage to a number of our earliest heroes from the world of engineering and invention.

Here we’d like to recognise each of these giants, upon whose shoulders we stand, starting with Archimedes of Syracuse.

Archimedes (Trough Monitor)

Although very little is recorded about the Ancient Greecian (born 287 BC - 212 BC), Archimedes paved the way for a number of crucial principles of contemporary mathematics. His most important contributions include his discovery of the relation between the surface area and volume of a sphere, and its circumscribing cylinder. His impressive résumé also includes the formulation of a fundamental feature of fluids (such as water) - when a solid is dropped into a fluid, the fluid pushes the solid directly up with force exactly equal to the weight of the fluid that got displaced. This is now known as the Archimedes Principle and it’s hard to imagine engineering without it. He also invented the Archimedes screw, a device for raising water, that continues to be used in water irrigation systems - particularly in developing countries - across the world.

Perhaps Archimedes’ innovative mathematical schemes might have led to our novel Trough Monitor device… if only keeping the Romans away wasn’t on the agenda.

Perhaps Archimedes’ innovative mathematical schemes might have led to our novel Trough Monitor device… if only keeping the Romans away wasn’t on the agenda.

Although Archimedes beat us to developing a device that raises water, our Trough Monitor builds upon Archimedes’ seminal discoveries in hydrostatics through the capabilities found in monitoring water pressure. Where Archimedes’ innovative screw continues to move water, our device continues to monitor it. Rather than Archimedes’ mathematical genius informing the construction of war machines to defend against a Roman siege, here his principles have enabled greater efficiency and peace-of-mind for farmers across Australia.

Quite like Syracuse’s great mathematician, who despite his grand ideas, had little documentation of the breadth of his inventive capabilities, our Trough Monitor partnership with South West Stone forms one of many stories of R&D taking place in Australia’s Agtech market. Although small in scale, trough manufacturer South West Stone endeavoured to enhance their customers' user experience by exploring new ideas through nimble product augmentation. Wishing to transform their idea into a commercial product, South West Stone approached us so together, sharing technical and market knowledge, we could enable the novel monitoring product to quickly enter the market.

Where South West Stone, with their intimate understanding of their customer’s needs, was able to envision what data the device could offer farmers at the front-end. In complimenting this, we were able to determine what technical components could be implemented for optimum efficiency. It was at this stage where the second forefather in our innovator alphabet provided inspiration for where we could take this product for our client.

Today, even our most rurally-based farmers own a form of technology that we knew we could actively tap into with South West Stone’s device. Thanks to Alexander Graham Bell’s invention of the telephone, enabling the long distance electronic transmission of speech, we were able to optimise our device to communicate complicated data through the easiest and most fuss-free means available for the consumer. By leveraging low-powered, long-range wireless internet capabilities, the Trough Monitor’s real-time water level data can be sent straight to a farmers phone, whenever and wherever they may be.

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That’s all we’ll share of Bell’s influence for this month. Although his innovations have undeniably influenced many, if not all of our product designs, you’ll be hearing much more about project B in next month’s installment. Until then, let us know who you think we should pay homage to in our product codename innovator alphabet. Although we’re working on a great number of projects at the moment, we still have some letters left to fill - extra points to anyone who can dream up some names for project Q and X.

Are you inspired by the pursuit of innovation just as we are? Are you eager to implement your novel ideas into a commercial product?

We want to help make it happen. Drop our engineering specialists a line.