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Austral Engineering & Software, Inc. (AES) is working to help bring wireless technology to some of the most remote regions of the country.
The Athens-based company was formed in 1993, pursuing high-technology engineering research and developing software in dynamic systems modeling, control design and other related technologies. Daniel Allwine took charge as President in 1997. Since that time, Austral Engineering has received Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) awards totaling more than $4 million. More recently, the company’s focus has been on various communications-related products and services.
One technology the company is hoping to commercialize is the Super-Orthogonal Low-Rate (SOLR – pronounced “solar”) code, which provides a large degree of immunity to jamming or eavesdropping during communication sessions. The code was originally designed for tactical military communications. “It’s something that sets us ahead of everybody else,” Dan explains. SOLR can also be used for communications systems such as those employed by police and fire stations.
Besides military and first-responder applications, “We believe SOLR has application to wireless broadband,” Dan says. “A lot of people rely on satellite Internet systems, or they’re looking at other wireless systems,” Dan notes, which often turn away customers due to connectivity issues. This means SOLR’s military success translates well at home, especially in a topographical area like southeastern Ohio. “Signal jamming also is the same kind of thing, mathematically speaking, that you find with foliage and terrain in a rural environment,” Dan says. He also added, “With government initiatives to provide broadband to every home in the country, the commercial application is enormous.”
Austral Engineering started as an affiliate member of the Innovation Center. “About a year ago, we were in need of some additional space,” Dan says.“We’ve realized that it’s actually a lot more cost effective to operate out of the Innovation Center than where we were before. We’ve become full tenants. Even when we were affiliate members, we lacked any meaningful meeting area. The professional organization facilities here made it the obvious place to do that.”
Dan says the Innovation Center provides not only a corporate front end, but a sounding board for marketing and promotional ideas. “Everyone involved with Austral is an engineer of some sort,” he says. “We don’t necessarily have all the marketing and business expertise that we need. The Innovation Center is providing or helping identify people who can provide that. It’s clearly helping us.”