Fibre-optic innovations for security. Dr hab. Eng. Tomasz Nasiłowski – founder and president of the board at InPhoTech
The founder and president of the board at InPhoTech, a Polish enterprise specializing in fibre-optic solutions for industry, talks about why, at the time of economic and military crisis, there should be an even stronger focus on innovation development. Mr. President, is the current economic and political situation favourable to create and implement innovations?
Tomasz Nasiłowski: One thing about crises is that they often require the use of other measures than until now, because the old ones turn out to be insufficient – hence, what may not be intuitive at first, crises determine development. At the pandemic time, many companies opted for digitalization, and thanks to its flexibility, not only it survived in the market, but even often gained a competitive advantage. The demanding situation should become an impulse to leave the comfort zone and to act out of the box.
The recent crises, including the war started by Russia in Ukraine, have had a significant impact on the economy, financial markets, geopolitical and social situation. Currently, any and all solutions that have been widely unknown and difficult to access are important – we are talking about a war against a country that does not focus on the development of innovation itself and at present most highly developed countries are against each other. We are in the situation that is new to us, so it is natural that we need some new solutions. Especially, in the field of security: supplies, but also our borders, or confidential data and key infrastructure (gas pipelines, refineries, water pipes, railway lines, road and bridge network, power lines, power plants, heating plants, etc.).
In the InPhoTech capital group, you deal with the creation of products based on optical fibres. What solutions to support the current crises do you offer?
The pandemic only confirmed only the fact that the need to increase network capacity is a major global challenge. Our breakthrough on a global scale multi-core optical fibre allows for a sevenfold increase in network capacity while optimizing costs. Tests carried out with telecommunications giants and the current state of competition, completed with a record capacity, suggest that this product will significantly contribute to the development of new generation telecommunications.
However, let us return to the topic of the war in Ukraine. In the twenty-first century, cyberattacks can be as dangerous a weapon as heavy artillery. Maybe, I will surprise you, but cyberattacks are not only about hackers who break into the network, there are also stealing data straight from optical fibre using a small dedicated device. This operation literally takes a moment. Our solution – Secoore Fiber, in contrast to the other optical fibres, has physical layer that prevents eavesdropping. Moreover, it allows to locate the place of a possible data leakage attempt. Reports from the press about attempts by Russians to steal data and damage key infrastructure show how real this is a problem that requires appropriate preventive action.
Speaking of security, one cannot ignore the aspect of border protection and key areas, such as those with critical infrastructure. Our FOPTEC perimeter system is, in a few words, an optical fibre buried underground connected to an interrogator (a transceiver that interprets the received data). The system monitors the protected area 24 hours a day and informs on an ongoing basis about any and all intrusions. It is designed in such a way that in not only defines the place of crossing the border, but also “learns” to recognize whether the protected area has been crossed by a group of people or a vehicle. It is an undetectable monitoring of the borders, important industrial or strategic areas.
For many of us, optical fibres are mainly associated with the Internet. The example you gave, as I understand, relates to a sensor system?
The optical fibre not only transmits the information, but also along its entire length can act as a sensor. It is connected to an interrogator, which interprets the collected data as changes occurring in a given place that may indicate an impending threat. Properly selected optical fibres can act as sensors for temperature, tension, vibration, humidity, gas concentration, etc. After covering with special coatings (e.g. metal), they are also able to operate in aggressive environments, high temperatures – previously unavailable for traditional solutions. Fiber optic monitoring of e.g. a gas pipeline, mine, power plant, etc. is able to prevent a costly failure, minimize the risk to workers’ health, and in the present situation – to ensure the security of the supply chain. Who knows, there would have been the last major pipeline leakages if the industry had already used these technologies. How much better would the situation be in the present conflict, and how much less would there be social tension?
Please describe what characterizes the InPhoTech group you created and at what stage are the solutions listed.
Beginning construction works, we start with the needs of industry. We focus on making sure that a given solution is really needed, not remaining in the sphere of scientific fantasies and theoretical considerations. We create eco-friendly solutions in line with the circular economy and the concept of green order. For example: this year our employees took part in the 30th Polar Expedition of Maria Curie-Skłodowska University from Lublin to Spitsbergen. As part of the carried out project, we have developed and made optical fibre probes that monitor permafrost occurring in polar conditions. Thanks to this kind of research and information provided by our sensor, scientists can gather extremely important information regarding i.a. climate change.
An vast majority of industrial research that are carried out by us, leads to through implementation works to commercialization by way of cooperation with our partners. We perform tests in the industrial conditions. We install our fibre optic sensors, among others, on rails, in pipelines, in mines, in steelworks and underground. We conduct advances conversations with leading representatives of various industries for the purpose of selling and licensing our solutions and future production. Fibre optic technologies dynamically develop around the world and are used in almost all industry branches.
Dr hab. Eng. Tomasz Nasiłowski – founder and president of the board at InPhoTech. Expert in the field of cooperation between science and industry. Co-creator of nearly 100 foreign and national patents and over 100 national and international patent applications. Author and co-author of many prestigious scientific publications with a high citation index. Expert of Ministry of Education and Science, PARP, National Centre for Research and Development, reviewer of prestigious specialist journals, photonics consultant at the World Bank.
Last Updated on January 2, 2023 by Anastazja