Inventor reveals his work on shark detection technology

A BUSY schedule has always been par-for-the-course for Ric Richardson.

From working on both commercial and personal inventions, to finding time to advise and assist upcoming inventors, Mr Richardson is always working on something.

The Sydney-born inventor has made the Byron Shire his home, having lived in Ewingsdale and Tyagarah, and now Coopers Shoot.

The inventor is best known for taking on Microsoft and winning in a multi-million dollar patent infringement case.

INVENTOR: Ric Richardson is busily working on solving the North Coast's shark problem.
INVENTOR: Ric Richardson is busily working on solving the North Coast's shark problem. Jacqueline Munro

The case revolved around an early invention developed by the company he founded, Uniloc - it was a form of product activation used to prevent software piracy.

A jury found Microsoft products Windows XP, Office XP, and Windows Server 2003 infringed the Uniloc patent.

Aside from his current work with Haventec to eradicate the need for passwords, he is also working on his 'pet project' in shark detection technology.

"When I started working on [the shark technology] I thought, how hard can it be," Mr Richardson said.

"It's been the hardest thing ever."

His first focus was to use submersible sonar technology to detect sharks, but during the process the Department of Primary Industries released results which showed that sharks can travel for kilometres very close to the shoreline amongst waves.

He said that this meant that they could enter the shoreline zone at Lennox and travel all the way up to Broken Head, "sneaking past" the sonar drones.

Another option he is working on includes utilising optical sensor cables which can detect shadows cast by sharks swimming overhead.

He said that this option has greater location precision, allowing operators to track the sharks as they swim greater location precision, whilst the sonar could only detect sharks within an 80 metre radius.

His third option implements using submersible unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in shark nurseries, which could ultimately tag up to 80 per cent of the shark population at once, without putting sharks through the trauma of catch, removal from the water, and eventual release.

"We need to find a way for humans to be able to share the ocean safely with sharks, without needing to kill them," he said.

"Using drumlines and nets, well, we need a new solution that works for us, and sharks. But it's complicated because sharks are so unpredictable and we really don't know enough about them."

He has also found time to pen a new book called Step by Step Inventing: The book I wrote and use myself.

"Inventors often struggle with running their own business or commercialising their inventions," Mr Richardson said.

"After all, the things that make me a great inventor makes me a bad businessman."

He wrote the book to guide other inventors through the commercial process, including giving tips on the easiest path to being funded, and how to find good business partners.

For a limited time, Mr Richardson is giving Northern Star readers the opportunity to download Step by Step Inventing: The book I wrote and use myself for free from Amazon.



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