Local pitch night launches inventor

A smoke detector that can tell the difference between burnt toast and a house fire has taken out one of the top three spots at the Australian China Association of Scientists and Entrepreneurs (ACASE) pitch night.

The pitch night was held on October 20 at Melbourne Town Hall. Ten competitors were invited to showcase their inventions over three minutes in front of 150 guests.

Attendees included Australian and Chinese investors, university principals and government officials.

Software engineer Cheng Huang came up with the idea for the smart smoke detector two years ago after the detector in his home would sound the alarm every time he prepared a meal.

“It was really, really annoying,” he said. “Sometimes we’d cook for two minutes and it would go off, so we wanted to build something smarter.”

Mr Huang created the smart smoke detector using similar technology to that found in a smart phone.

“We invented the new detector from scratch. It’s quite different from the technology found in smoke detectors now. Inside, like the smart phone, it has a small processor”.

The smart smoke detector responds to how long smoke is present for.

“The alarm can detect if it’s a smaller degree of smoke, like from burnt toast. However if the smoke is still present 30-45 seconds later, it will sound,” said Mr Huang.

Founder and CEO of ACASE Dr Erijang Fu said that Mr Huang’s idea catered to the needs of both Australian and international consumers.

“There’s a high demand for this type of product in smart cities like Melbourne and overseas in China,” he said.

“People have a strong demand for smart technology and smart homes. This was one of the many reasons Cheng’s idea was appealing to us.”

Despite interest from both countries, Mr Huang’s smart smoke detector will differ slightly in China.

Another feature of the smoke alarm is that it can send an alert in the form of a text message to your phone.

Via a Wi-Fi connection, the smoke detector not only alerts you by text that a fire is occurring in your home, but it also pinpoints the location of the flames.

However, Australian law prevents the text feature being permitted here.

“By law, it’s just not allowed. Any remote device cannot receive a message from a smoke detector,” Mr Huang said.

“So I’ll have to alter it to have an Australian version. For example, we’ll keep the industry level smoke sensor. It’s still smarter and more active, however we’ll have to remove all the Wi-Fi features.”

The Huang family business back in China works in the smart technology sector.

“Based on his family background too, you’ve got a pretty strong case,” said Dr Fu.

The next step for Mr Huang and ACASE is to head to Guangzhou for three weeks, where they will enter a larger competition on December 18.

Organised by the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Technology and Science, the competition received 500 applicants.

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