Flinders lecturer and self-styled “digital blacksmith”, Dr Paul Gardner-Stephen, is the winner of this week’s episode of the ABC’s The New Inventors program.
His innovative new technology, the Serval Project (http://www.servalproject.org/) allows mobile phones to operate in remote areas without mobile networks.
The system has the potential to revolutionise communications in remote areas and in disaster zones.
“My colleagues and I are really thrilled to take home the The New Inventors episode trophy for the Serval Project,” Dr Gardner-Stephen.
“The ABC program is a great forum for presenting innovative ideas and products and we are really honoured that the judges considered Serval a worthy concept,” he said.
“Inventing products and making discoveries is exciting in itself, but knowing you’re working on an invention that has the potential to improve the lives of millions of people takes it to another level.”
Dr Gardner-Stephen was inspired by the Boxing Day tsunami and the Haiti earthquake to come up with a makeshift communications system.
“Those events were devastating in terms of the loss of life and the destruction of cities and villages,” he said.
“But these natural disasters also destroyed phone networks, making it impossible for families to locate friends and loved ones, as well as hampering rescue efforts.
“And there are many parts of the world where people’s capacity to escape poverty and poor health is limited by the absence of a basic phone network.
“Our new system makes it possible to create a substitute phone network within hours.”
Dr Gardner-Stephen and the Serval Project are eligible to take part in The New Inventors grand final later this year vying for the title, Inventor of The Year.