Smart Henges Sensor Integration

SAPHI has been working closely alongside the City of Newcastle, FASTLAB and the team at Design Anthology to integrate various sensors into Newcastle’s latest smart cities initiative, ‘The Smart Henges Project’.

Smart city solutions

Project Background

The intent behind the Smart Henges project was to create interactive digital experiences in three major locations across Newcastle’s CBD as part of the City of Newcastle’s Night Spaces initiative. The project is an exercise in the concept that the more people there are in a space, the safer it will be. 


The purpose-built systems are designed to encourage engagement via playful interactions that foster well-being in the community. The secondary intent of the project was to collect anonymised data that can be used for the further development of smart technologies. 

What Was The Problem?

To encourage the community’s engagement with the Smart Henges, the City of Newcastle wanted the systems to come alive when a person was within a predefined proximity of the systems. Additionally, they wanted to record data about the frequency and duration of each engagement.

What Was The Solution?

The solution would come in the form of integrating a series of proximity sensors into the existing infrastructure that would be programmed to trigger music and animations when a person approached.


SAPHI analysed, procured and tested a range of proximity sensors to identify the most suitable options for the project. Once selected, our team developed custom software to integrate them into the systems and trigger pre-developed animations and music as well as capturing data on the number and length of interactions.


SAPHI also optimised the power management to achieve a 60% reduction in power usage.

What Were The Outcomes?

The high-level outcomes for the project were as follows:


  • Automated interactions
  • 60% reduction in power usage
  • Safer night-time spaces
  • Improved community engagement
  • Improved look and feel of public spaces

What Skills Did SAPHI Use To Implement The Solution?

The tech and experience required for this job included a broad range of skills from our team of computer, electrical and software engineers, including:


  • Embedded C programming language
  • Sensor integration
  • Solar and power optimisation
  • Zephyr operating system

What Support Did SAPHI Offer After Completion?

SAPHI provides customised packages to support the full system development life cycle and implementation of upgrades to support the evolving needs of our clients and their customers.

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