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ASTRI’s tech innovations win at Hong Kong ICT Awards 2020

Image Credits: ASTRI, Press Release

The Hong Kong Applied Science and Technology Research Institute (ASTRI) won a Silver Award for Smart Living for its iGem Guard Raman spectrometer, and a Bronze Award for Smart Mobility with its gantry free Electronic Road Pricing (ERP) at the Hong Kong Information and Communications Technology Awards (ICT Awards) 2020.

The first solution, the cost-efficient and portable iGem Guard, can distinguish the category, authenticity and rank of more than 3,000 different kinds of gems in just three seconds.

Applying state-of-the-art mini three-band laser spectroscopy technology, the iGem Guard is equipped with adaptive and accurate sensors and intelligent algorithms. Through the process of one-touch optical inspection, the device can swiftly determine whether a diamond is natural or synthetic; whether jadeite is classified as “Grade A” or chemically-processed (“Grade B” or “Grade C”); whether a pearl is formed in freshwater or saltwater.

Dr Chun Zhang, ASTRI’s Director of Sensing Devices and Integration, IoT and Sensors, who led the research, stated that agency and its scientists will continue to strive for innovative ways to expand the application of the Raman spectrometer for other purposes, such as food and health product safety, installing it on mobile devices for public usage, testing the quality of surgical masks, hand sanitisers, herbal medicines and cosmetics, or detecting any substance change in water sources.

ASTRI has taken advantage of its expertise to select suitable and fine optical components, developing a spectrometer that would fit in the palms of two hands, which is about 20 times smaller than conventional ones. The relevant patented mini-spectrometer technology was awarded a Gold Medal with Congratulations of the Jury at last year’s International Exhibition of Inventions of Geneva.

The team used a variety of jewellery samples from the industry to build a database consisting of a great variety of gems and minerals. Each device costs between HK$100,000 and HK$200,000. Provided that only a single type of jewellery is tested, the price can be further reduced to HK$50,000. Meanwhile, it can store spectral information, photos and descriptions of jewellery in a classified manner to facilitate inventory management.

The judging panel praised the iGem Guard for bringing promising influence to the local jewellery industry. The roadmap in tailoring the devices in mini and micro sizes could further benefit a larger group of users, assisting small-scaled jewellery shops and individual jewellery collectors for identification and management purposes.

The award-winning ultra-wide broadband (UWB) + vehicle-to-everything (V2X) ERP System did not require the setting of the enormous gantries to detect vehicles passing by to initiate charges during rush hours, with an aim to tackling traffic congestion in the central business area through diversion.

Dr Billy Chan, ASTRI’s Deputy Director of cellular vehicle-to-everything (C-V2X) and coordinator of this project stated that the system has also been recognised by the industry, which helps pave the way for ASTRI and its industry partners, Hong Kong Telecommunications and Genvict, to further develop smart mobility and the C-V2X technology.

ASTRI has successfully tested this system with its partners. Trial runs have been conducted in several cities in the Greater Bay Area. ASTRI will explore with stakeholders on the feasibility of implementing this system in Hong Kong.

ASTRI is a market pioneer in combining C-V2X and UWB technology to enable the precise estimation of position. ASTRI uses existing roadside infrastructure, thereby eliminating the need to build expensive gantries and laying of optical fibres as well as reducing the number of sensors required, to effectively reduce the time and cost in adopting the ERP system. In addition to this, the system is easy to install and transfer, and can be adjusted when necessary.

The advantageous nature of V2X and UWB allows the system to perform real-time and reliable smart transport management to accurately locate the vehicles with low battery consumption, which can also ensure data security and protect user privacy.

The judging panel praised the UWB+V2X roadside system in achieving a breakthrough in ERP, providing a cost-effective, brand new and flexible solution for areas with long-term traffic congestion problem. The system can facilitate in-city traffic management to enhance the mobility of Hong Kong.

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