Due to COVID-19, access to the operating theatres in hospitals is restricted, which means medical training must balance practical learning experiences while ensuring the safety of their students.
NUS have released how they are enabling their medical students from the NUS Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine to experience the process of patient safety and immersion in operating theatre procedures through virtual reality (VR).
The students have been able to learn about the entire flow of the peri-operative setting: from dental clearance to anaesthesia evaluation, to the handling of sharps during surgery and the safe conduct of operations in a simulated environment through VR headsets and hand-held controllers.
The system, called PAtient Safety aS Inter-Professional Training (PASS-IT), is a digital gamified environment that allows students to learn about hands-on techniques in the operating theatre.
“PASS-IT’s gamified style lets multiple learners be immersed in situations where they are given the opportunity to participate in what would usually be a highly restricted environment,” said Associate Professor Alfred Kow, a surgeon and Assistant Dean (Education) of NUS Medicine.
“With the COVID-19 situation, students have also been removed from these settings of practical learning due to the risk of exposing them to aerosol-generating procedures. This VR system is a good tool to help the students consolidate their learning despite increased clinical restrictions,” he added.
Operating in the virtual training world
Medical students use VR headsets and hand-held controllers to interact with each other in real-time. Their physical movements and actions are also tracked and displayed in real-time for visualisation and evaluation.
The tool allows students “to make mistakes, learn in a safe environment and ensure that they are competent before they enter actual clinical environment to care for patients”, according to Assoc Prof Kow.
The PASS-IT programme was piloted with a cohort of 36 third-year medical students who had just completed their clinical rotations in surgery, as well as 56 fourth-year medical students during their Phase IV Anaesthesia posting.
Students showed improved understanding of peri-operative patient safety after the training. Results also showed that the VR training had elevated the students’ appreciation for effective communication between healthcare workers, and the majority of students also spoke positively of the use of VR technology to enhance their knowledge of patient safety.
Assistant Professor Terry Pan from the Department of Anaesthesia at NUS Medicine said the introduction of the PASS-IT VR system has been timely as it gave the students “a unique opportunity to continue the operating theatre learning experience virtually in a safe and structured manner”.
“This innovative VR tool can certainly complement the operating theatre learning experience when the current restrictions are lifted,” he added.
The Department of Architecture under the National University of Singapore College of Design and Engineering (NUS CDE) opened the Architectural Conservation Laboratory (ArClab), a unique living laboratory housed in a conserved building which will serve as a site for researchers, graduate students and built heritage professionals to conduct a wide range of teaching and research activities on sustainable development of the built environment.
ArClab was established in January 2022 to achieve four key goals:
- augment the training capabilities of Singapore’s building industry in built heritage conservation;
- develop innovative use of technologies to enhance conservation;
- conduct high-impact research into broader conservation issues; and
- promote climate resilience and net-zero retrofit in historic buildings.
Over the next four to five years, ArClab will undertake the restoration of 141 Neil Road, a historic townhouse in the Blair Plain Conservation Area. The Portabella family, who owned the house, had recently donated it to the University, along with a gift of S$2 million, to support its repair and conservation works.
The Head of the NUS Department of Architecture and UNESCO Chair on Architectural Heritage Conservation and Management in Asia noted that as the first of its kind in Southeast Asia, the ArClab aims to be an exemplar and pedagogical demonstration of sensitive repair and conservation, adaptive reuse of heritage, and sustainable management of the historic environment.
The building’s conservation process will provide opportunities for both teaching and research. Using the conserved townhouse as a living lab, ArClab will showcase a new model for learning about the historic environment, building professional capacity to manage historical resources, and promoting historical and environmental studies.
The Deputy Dean (Research), the NUS College of Design and Engineering noted that ArClab is a timely endeavour that gathers expertise in engineering, design and architecture from the NUS College of Design and Engineering to preserve our history and build skills to address Singapore’s unique urban sustainability concerns.
Speaking at the opening of ArClab, the Minister for National Development and Minister-in-charge of Social Services Integration noted that he is excited to see ArClab become an engine to develop the knowledge of conservation practices and skills locally; develop heritage capacity building in Singapore and the region; support building owners in the maintenance and restoration of heritage buildings; grow Singapore’s overseas presence in built heritage and break new ground internationally and see how sustainability and liveability can be imbued inbuilt heritage.
Bring cultural heritage to life
One of the oldest buildings in the entire stretch of Neil Road, the historic house was built as part of the Everton Estate in the 1880s. The historic building contains a collection of decorative tiles depicting English Art Noveau and Chinese motifs. It is adorned with several auspicious Chinese character plaques in clerical and cursive font styles.
Housed within the historic building, ArClab will be a dynamic “classroom in the city” for students taking graduate programmes and doctoral studies in built heritage management. They will play a significant role in the repair and conservation works.
Students will learn and conduct research on areas such as traditional building materials and craftsmanship; the use of innovative technologies for repair works, energy efficiency and comfort; and net-zero retrofit in historic buildings. ArClab will also design and deliver advanced courses for professionals working in the field of built heritage.
The research will be conducted alongside teaching activities in the conserved building. NUS researchers will carry out various projects, including conducting research, documentation and restoration of Singapore’s heritage using innovative technologies such as 3D modelling; developing an integrated approach for energy efficiency and net-zero retrofit of Singapore’s historic buildings; testing and developing traditional building materials and techniques as well as using innovative technologies for conservation and repair works in the Singapore context; and estimating the impact of the high-density urban surroundings on the microclimate of historic districts.
A broad range of advanced equipment will be available for researchers and students to conduct holistic research and training.
The Indonesian government supports accelerating digital transformation in education by encouraging teaching staff to hone their digital skills. Research in 2020 showed that digital skill improvement could contribute IDR 4,434 trillion to Indonesia’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2030.
In light of this, the Ministry of Communication and Informatics (Kemkominfo) is eager to accelerate technology advancement in every sector to support Indonesia’s 2045 vision to become a sovereign and independent country.
The government recognises that educators need to have digital proficiency to overcome and adapt to teaching and learning that has transitioned from offline to online.
“We need to pay special attention to education and proficiency in digital technology. The 2020-2024 RPJMN (National Medium-Term Development Plan) has seen that digital transformation in national strategic sectors needs to be implemented and accelerated,” said the Director of Digital Economy of the Ministry of Communication and Information, I Nyoman Adhiarna in his remarks at the Digital Transformation Education Sector online seminar.
Based on the Ministry of Communication and Informatics development plan, education is one of the strategic sectors that will support national economic growth in 2020-2024. Moreover, the Directorate of Digital Economy endorses the plan as a programme enabler to support the Ministry of Education and Culture.
Throughout 2022 Kominfo has organised digital technology adoption programmes in the education sector in various locations in Indonesia. Covering Bali, Bintan Regency, Batam City, Sorong Regency, Biak Numfor Regency, Klaten Regency, Kendal Regency, Kuningan Regency, Medan City, Padang City and Tual City, Nyoman explained.
Meanwhile, the Regional Secretary (Sekda) of the Government of Kuningan Regency, West Java, Dian Rahmat Yanuar said the education sector digital technology adoption programme would expand teachers’ skills and knowledge and increase their confidence.
“The pandemic era was a challenge, as well as a momentum for us to declare ourselves to be more competitive in the future complex challenge, therefore teachers are required to adapt faster,” he shared.
New Curriculum to Boost Digitalisation
Kemkominfo has collaborated with the Ministry of Education and Culture (Kemendikbud) in driving the “Merdeka Mengajar” (Independent Teaching) platform as a new curriculum. The Executive Director of CERDAS, Indra Charismiadji, explained the new “Merdeka Mengajar” curriculum concept focuses on the learning process of students.
“The essence of differentiated learning is that it focuses on students as every student cannot be the same. Teachers need to know how to deal with these different students,” expanded Indra.
Other participants emphasised the importance of teachers providing relevant context in the learning process. Educators have to adopt different approaches when writing in academic media and on social media. They can become teacher influencers by trying new things.
The seminar entitled “Digital Transformation of the Education Sector” was organised by the Ministry of Communication and Information to celebrate National Teacher’s Day. The Ministry worked with provincial, district/city governments and all public and private schools to broaden the activities outreach.
The webinar discussed various problems in the learning system. In the event, participants discussed how to accelerate technological advancement and agreed that it requires teachers to adapt and maximise the use of technology to make better school learning.
Kominfo has given digital transformation top priority at the Indonesian G20 Presidency Summit in 2022. Mira Tayyiba, secretary general of the Ministry of Communication and Informatics, is concerned about the issue of digital transformation. The forum working groups discussed several digital issues, such as employment, discussing digital, education, health, and other topics.
The School of Business and Management of The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST Business School) and The Institute of Sustainability and Technology (IST) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to foster the partnership on ESG initiatives through education and technology. Both parties are working to accelerate the transition to a circular economy and drive innovation towards a net-zero future.
The Founder & Faculty Advisor of IST, Adjunct Professor of the Department of Management at HKUST and the Dean of HKUST Business School signed the MoU to affirm the strategic partnership. Industry leaders and business elites representing over 100 organizations joined to show their overwhelming support and commitment to sustainability.
The Chief Secretary for the Administration of HKSAR stated that Hong Kong, as an international financial centre connecting global capital with opportunities, has a unique role to play in addressing the world’s most pressing environmental and social challenges brought about by climate change.
By making a thorough effort including the issuance of green bonds, implementation of the Green and Sustainable Finance Grant Scheme and nurturing of talent, and leveraging its close partnership with relevant stakeholders, the HKSAR Government aims to develop Hong Kong into a green and sustainable hub in the region.
The Founder & Faculty Advisor of IST, Adjunct Professor of the Department of Management at HKUST said that to nurture the next generation of ESG talent, IST is working with HKUST to co-create a series of globally recognised executive training programs to inspire purpose-driven business management.
While striving for net zero by 2050, Hong Kong is uniquely positioned to maximize synergies with GBA cities to play a strategic gateway role as a regional green finance hub for sustainable investments and cross-border carbon trading. By deploying catalytic capital, innovation can be fuelled, and triple returns can be empowered via a thriving ecosystem for decarbonization technologies to accelerate the transition to a circular economy. By leveraging innovative technology, education initiatives and strategic collaboration, the net zero targets can be achieved.
The President of HKUST stated that the two parties both aim to guide the city towards a net-zero, sustainable future through education and technology. Through their core missions in research, teaching, and innovation, the next generation of talent is being nurtured into responsible professionals and leaders and contributing to solving pressing environmental and social issues.
The Dean of HKUST Business School noted that this partnership with IST supports Hong Kong’s brown-to-green transition through talent development and technology deployment. Marking a key event under this partnership, the ESG Forum familiarised participants with key aspects of ESG management through expert insights covering strategy, risks, benchmarking, and future trends. HKUST looks forward to pursuing a broad range of sustainability-related opportunities in training, research and development, and community engagement with IST.
An ESG Forum was held after the MoU signing ceremony. Various renowned academics and industry veterans participated in the forum, exchanged their views, and shared insights on ESG and sustainability.
About the Institute of Sustainability and Technology
To nurture the next generation of ESG talent, IST is partnering with HKUST Business School to co-create a series of globally recognised training programs for business executives. Catering to the diverse context of Asian markets, IST seeks to establish robust impact measurement and management methodology as well as ESG ratings and benchmark standards for different sectors across Asia Pacific. To promote thought leadership and best practices, IST sponsors interdisciplinary research studies to provide compelling data to advance the agenda for sustainable development. For more details about the Institute, please visit
Seven intelligent robots have been installed in the wards of Yishun Community Hospital (YCH) to welcome patients and bring supplies to the bedside. These brand-new Temi Robots, known as Angel, were introduced to support nursing care so that nurses could focus their time and energy on clinical tasks while still giving patients a personal and meaningful touch.
These robots are loaded with patient education materials that patients and their caregivers can easily access, in addition to providing announcements and reminders throughout the day in all four major languages.
They also have a variety of features like games and entertainment, teleconference tools, and translation capabilities. YCH hopes to further improve patient engagement and satisfaction in its wards with the new addition.
A pilot project using Nao Robots was also used by YCH in previous years to assist dementia patients in their rehabilitation. Robot Therapy, which was started by the staff at YCH in 2018, is now a part of the therapy-related services offered there.
YCH, which is conceived of as a healing space for patients, offers intermediate care for recovering patients who do not require the intensive care services of an acute-care hospital. With rehabilitation and therapy at the heart of the hospital’s mission, the team was eager to investigate the potential of the innovation, Robot Therapy.
Because they can perform a wide range of tasks with little to no value added, hospital robots offer a reliable solution, freeing up doctors, nurses, and surgeons to focus on more high-value work. Robots have become an integral part of the healthcare industry, with many hospitals now using them to perform both surgical and administrative tasks.
In addition, prior to the arrival of Nao Robots in Singapore, a few local nursing homes used Paro, a robot that mimics the appearance, movement, and sounds of a baby seal. The therapeutic robot seal’s use is like animal therapy in that the robot helps to calm elderly people who have dementia or a loss of cognitive function.
The Nao robot, on the other hand, came with higher expectations: it can express emotions like laughter or sadness during interactions; it can interact and communicate with patients in different languages; and it has optic, audio, and impact sensors and motors to detect surroundings, interpret detection, and activate programmed responses.
Various interaction and language modes can be programmed into the Nao robot. The YCH Robot Therapy team took advantage of this by incorporating the robot into specific therapy sessions. This increased efficiency freed up nursing time, which could then be used for other care activities. Nao robot therapy sessions were trialled with 48 patients from the Dementia ward in October 2018.
Patients with Behavioural and Psychological Symptoms of Dementia (BPSD) require more care and attention, so this was chosen as the pilot ward. By introducing the Nao robot, YCH has increased patient engagement, motivate them to engage in social activities, and shorten the time required for social activities so that caregivers could concentrate on other care-related tasks.
The implementation process was divided into three stages: training staff, selecting suitable patients and assessing seniors who participated in the Robot Therapy programme using the Observed Emotion Rating Scale.
Singhealth asserts that the COVID-19 pandemic, which hastened the adoption of these solutions and accelerated the digital transformation of healthcare systems globally, has sparked a tremendous interest in digital technology and virtual health solutions.
A group of clinician innovators from SingHealth sought to ascertain whether digital interventions are more affordable and provide patients with greater value and benefits in anticipation of this continuing upward trend, and they discovered that this may not always be the case for some eye conditions.
Officially launched on 29 November 2022, the ANU School of Cybernetics provides unrivalled teaching and research that pioneers a new approach to engineering and technology design. School Director, ANU Distinguished Professor Genevieve Bell, noted that the School nurtures and trains a new generation of critical thinkers and practitioners who can navigate an increasingly complex world and who are committed to ensuring safe, sustainable, and responsible technology futures.
She said the new School’s leadership is working hard to help transform the way society engages with technology. Their aim is to help ensure that everyone can participate in building the future. And they are working to find new ways to think about and talk about the role of technology in our lives. The ANU School of Cybernetics is dedicated to helping lead and enrich this vital conversation.
The School and its curriculum draw on the rich history of cybernetics globally and reimagine it for the 21st-century challenges. The goal is to make sure major societal transformations can be successfully navigated.
The ANU School of Cybernetics offers the Master of Applied Cybernetics, a PhD program that recruits students as a cohort, and a series of microlearning experiences for organisations, communities, and individuals.
The School’s research program investigates how emerging cyber-physical, technological systems – such as robotics, digital voice assistants, and autonomous systems – operate across a range of settings and sectors including the creative industries, marine sciences, agriculture, and climate change research.
Distinguished Professor Bell said another key focus of the School was examining who is building and managing our AI-enabled future. There is a need to develop the ability to respond quickly to changing situations and complex systems and many, diverse voices must be involved in making those decisions and building new knowledge, she said.
The last few years have shown that better stories about the future need to be told; stories that are more equitable, fair, and just, and that, equally, more work needs to be present to make those stories not just possible but true.
To help launch the School, an inaugural curated exhibition featuring more than 100 historical and contemporary pieces is on display until 2 December in the award-winning Birch Building on the ANU campus.
From the world’s first computer graphics, animations, special effects, and electronic music, Australian Cybernetic: a point through time explores 50 years of technology and creativity in computing that have influenced the technology, cinema, gaming, and television we know today.
The collection of interactive, immersive, and provocative creations also includes an Emmy Award-winning virtual reality film; an acclaimed installation examining the resources, human labour, and algorithmic processing of a virtual assistant technology system; and a kinetic sculpture named ‘Albert’ that has been delighting audiences for 54 years, among many other displays.
The cybernetic futures lead at the School said the exhibition speaks firmly to the School’s approach of observing the past to help shape a course for the role of technologies in today’s world. He noted that for the first time, historic, contemporary, and conceptual cybernetic works are being brought together in a unique exhibition. People are invited to take a tour through time and learn about the history of technology and art and how this contributed to cybernetics and the multimedia, tech and music enjoyed today.
A Hong Kong Baptist University (HKBU) collaborative research team has synthesised a nanoparticle named TRZD that can perform the dual function of diagnosing and treating glioma in the brain. It emits persistent luminescence for the diagnostic imaging of glioma tissues in vivo and inhibits the growth of tumour cells by aiding the targeted delivery of chemotherapy drugs.
The nanoparticle offers hope for the early diagnosis and treatment of glioma, especially cerebellar glioma, which is even harder to detect and cure with existing methods. The research results have been published in Science Advances, an international scientific journal.
Limitations of existing diagnostic and therapeutic approaches
Glioma is the most common form of malignant primary brain tumour, accounting for roughly one-third of all brain tumours. While magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is commonly used to diagnose glioma, the technology lacks sensitivity. Cerebellar glioma, a relatively rare brain tumour, is even harder to detect with MRI. To facilitate early detection and treatment, an alternative method with improved sensitivity and precision is needed to diagnose glioma.
A chemotherapy agent called Doxorubicin is an effective treatment for glioma. However, its application may also damage normal cells, and it is associated with a range of side effects. To enhance doxorubicin’s clinical efficacy and minimise its side effects, a novel approach is needed to apply the drug to tumour cells in a more targeted manner.
In response to the diagnostic and therapeutic needs of glioma, a research team co-led by Dr Wang Yi, Assistant Professor of the Department of Chemistry at HKBU, and Professor Law Ga-lai, Professor of the Department of Applied Biology and Chemical Technology at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, has synthesised a novel near-infrared (NIR) persistent luminescence nanoparticle called TRZD, which can play a dual role in diagnostic imaging and as a drug carrier for glioma.
An imaging probe for glioma diagnosis
The research team evaluated the efficacy of TRZ (i.e., TRZD without doxorubicin) in diagnostic imaging for glioma with a mouse model. First, TRZ particles were excited by UV light to initiate luminescence. Mice with tumour tissues injected into their cerebrum and cerebellum were then treated with TRZ. Over the next 24 hours, TRZ luminescence was detected at the tumour sites of the mice.
However, when the same experiment was conducted with TRZ without T7 peptides, and TRZ without both the red blood cell membrane coating and T7 peptides, no luminescence was detected at the tumour sites of the mice. The results show that the red blood cell membrane coating can prolong the function of TRZ by stabilising the nanoparticle, and it can slow down its natural uptake by the human body.
The research team further evaluated the anti-tumour efficacy of TRZD using a group of mice who had had their cerebrum and cerebellum injected with tumour tissues.
After applying TRZD for 15 days, the average diameter of their tumours was reduced to 1 mm. They also survived 20 days longer on average compared to the control group, who had not received TRZD. Besides, cell death was observed in the tumour region but not in normal brain tissue.
The results indicate that TRZD’s therapeutic effect on glioma has good selectivity because doxorubicin is brought specifically to tumour cells due to T7 peptide’s strong affinity with tumour cells’ surface receptors and its ability to penetrate the blood-brain barrier. As a result, doxorubicin can be applied in a more targeted manner, and hopefully, its side effects can be minimised with reduced drug dosage.
The team concluded that the nanotechnology demonstrates promising potential, and it could be developed into a new generation of anti-glioma drugs that can perform the dual function of diagnosis and treatment. It also offers hope for the development of treatment protocols for other brain diseases.
At the recently held 3rd Joint Implementation Committee (JIC) meeting, the Ministry of Communications and Information (MCI) and Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) announced the signing of eight (8) Memoranda of Understanding (MoU) and unveiled fourteen (14) new joint projects underneath the Singapore-China (Shenzhen) Smart City Initiative (SCI).
The Singapore-China (Shenzhen) Smart City Initiative, inaugurated in 2019, has strengthened the digital and commercial ties between Singapore and Shenzhen, according to Joseph Leong, co-chair of the JIC and Permanent Secretary for Communications and Information. Both parties have worked hard to improve SCI as a powerful platform for digital innovation, smart city collaboration, and business and people exchanges during the past three years, despite the challenges of the epidemic.
Singapore and Shenzhen will actively create a suitable business environment for enterprises to innovate and undertake cross-border transactions safely and smoothly as they build economic recovery and resilience. As the SCI enters its third year of implementation, the meeting reported doubling the number of new cooperative initiatives compared to the prior year.
These new initiatives will strengthen the existing Singapore-Shenzhen partnership in fostering digital transformation and policy innovation and open new commercial and employment prospects in the fields of research and innovation, trade, sustainability, and talent development. In the past year, one of the most important areas of collaboration has been the ease of digital trade using electronic Bills of Lading (eBLs).
After evaluating the outcomes of successful technical trade trials over the previous year, IMDA and Shenzhen’s Bureau of Commerce are prepared to extend IMDA’s TradeTrust pilot with actual business transactions involving banks, shippers, and other partners. This would open the door for the complete digitalization of the trade supply chain and benefit the ecosystem by enabling quicker and more secure digital trade transactions.
IMDA has also expanded its relationship with TusStar, a major Chinese technological incubator with a network of over 10,000 enterprises. TusStar will develop its network in the fields of Artificial Intelligence (AI), Augmented Reality/Virtual Reality, and sensor technologies in the next phase, as well as strengthen its regional presence in Southeast Asia by instituting hub operations in Singapore. This collaboration will introduce technology start-ups from Singapore, Shenzhen, and other Chinese cities to new markets in the region.
The 14 new cooperative projects demonstrate digital technologies’ revolutionary significance throughout the SCI’s key areas of digital connection, talent exchange and development, innovation, and entrepreneurship.
Notable initiatives include the application of sophisticated technology and artificial intelligence (AI) for the green economy and sustainability, such as lowering carbon dioxide emissions and improving battery management for electric vehicles.
SCI has so far begun 29 projects and signed 21 memorandums of understanding. This strong momentum in the SCI partnership demonstrates Singapore and Shenzhen’s leadership in digital economy development, as well as the possibility for SCI’s innovative projects to be scaled to more cities in the Greater Bay Area and Southeast Asia.
By creating a thriving digital economy and an inclusive digital society, IMDA guides Singapore’s digital transformation. As the “Architects of Singapore’s Digital Future,” the agency works to make Singapore a digital metropolis by promoting growth in the Infocomm technology and media industries alongside progressive policies, utilising cutting-edge technologies, and building local talent and digital infrastructure ecosystems.