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.
A research team from the LKS Faculty of Medicine at The University of Hong Kong (HKUMed) has developed more efficient CRISPR-Cas9 variants that could be useful for gene therapy applications. By establishing a new pipeline methodology that implements machine learning on high-throughput screening to accurately predict the activity of protein variants, the team has expanded the capacity to analyse up to 20 times more variants at once without needing to acquire additional experimental data, which vastly accelerates the speed in protein engineering.
The pipeline has been successfully applied in several Cas9 optimisations and engineered new Staphylococcus aureus Cas9 (SaCas9) variants with enhanced gene editing efficiency. The findings are now published in Nature Communications and a patent application has been filed based on this work.
Staphylococcus aureus Cas9 (SaCas9) is an ideal candidate for in vivo gene therapy owing to its small size that allows packaging into adeno-associated viral vectors to be delivered into human cells for therapeutic applications. However, its gene-editing activity could be insufficient for some specific disease loci.
Before it can be used as a reliable tool for the treatment of human diseases, further optimisations of SaCas9 are vital within precision medicine. These optimisations must comprise the boosting of its efficiency and precision by altering the Cas9 protein.
The standard protocol for modifying the protein involves saturation mutagenesis, where the number of possible modifications that could be introduced to the protein far exceeds the experimental screening capacity of even the state-of-art high-throughput platforms by order of magnitude.
In their work, the team explored whether combining machine learning with structure-guided mutagenesis library screening could enable the virtual screening of many more modifications to accurately identify the rare and better-performing variants for further in-depth validations.
The machine learning framework was tested on several previously published mutagenesis screens on Cas9 variants and the team was able to show that machine learning could robustly identify the best performing variants by using merely 5-20% of the experimentally determined data.
The Cas9 protein contains several parts, including protospacer adjacent motif (PAM)-interacting (PI) and Wedge (WED) domains to facilitate its interaction with the target DNA duplex. The research team married the machine learning and high-throughput screening platforms to design activity-enhanced SaCas9 protein by combining mutations in its PI and WED domains surrounding the DNA duplex bearing a (PAM). PAM is crucial for Cas9 to edit the target DNA and the aim was to reduce the PAM constraint for wider genome targeting whilst securing the protein structure by reinforcing the interaction with the PAM-containing DNA duplex via the WED domain.
In the screen and subsequent validations, the researchers identified new variants, including one named KKH-SaCas9-plus, with enhanced activity by up to 33% at specific genomic loci. The subsequent protein modelling analysis revealed the new interactions created between the WED and PI domains at multiple locations within the PAM-containing DNA duplex, attributing to KKH-SaCas9-plus’s enhanced efficiency.
Until recently, structure-guided design has dominated the field of Cas9 engineering. However, it only explores a small number of sites, amino-acid residues, and combinations. In this study, the research team was able to illustrate that screening with a larger scale and less experimental efforts, time and cost can be conducted using the machine learning-coupled multi-domain combinatorial mutagenesis screening approach, which led them to identify a new high-efficiency variant KKH-SaCas9-plus.
The Assistant Professor of the School of Biomedical Sciences, HKUMed stated that this approach will greatly accelerate the optimisation of Cas9 proteins, which could allow genome editing to be applied in treating genetic diseases more efficiently.
Researchers have developed a reusable, recyclable, washable, odourless, non-allergic, and anti-microbial N95 mask by using 3D printing technology. The multi-layer mask has a shelf life of more than 5 years, depending upon the use. The outer layer is made up of silicon.
Apart from its well-known uses to prevent infections like COVID-19, the mask can also be used in industries where workers are exposed to high volumes of dust like cement or cotton factories, brick kilns, and paint industries. It can be modified according to the requirement by changing the filter configuration. As per a government press release, the mask can help prevent severe lung diseases such as silicosis. A trademark and a patent have also been filed for the mask called Nano Breath.
The mask consists of a 4-layer filtration mechanism wherein the outer and first layer of the filter is coated with nanoparticles. The second layer is a high-efficiency particulate absorbing (HEPA) filter, the third layer is a 100 µm filter, and the fourth layer is a moisture absorbent filter.
A Zetasizer Nano ZS, a facility supported by the government’s Fund for Improvement of Science & Technology Infrastructure (FIST) project, was used to carry out the work. It enables high-temperature thermal analysis for ceramic materials and catalysis applications. It is a high-performance, versatile system for measuring particle size, zeta potential, molecular weight, particle mobility, and micro-rheology.
Technology has played a significant role in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic over the past two years. Indian institutes have invested resources in developing tech-enabled solutions for the new normal. Earlier this year, researchers from the Indian Institute of Technology in Jodhpur (IIT-Jodhpur) created an artificial intelligence (AI) model that can detect COVID-19 by examining the chest X-ray of patients. The team proposed a deep learning-based algorithm called COMiT-Net, which learns the abnormalities present in the chest X-ray images to differentiate between an affected lung and a non-affected lung. It can also identify infected regions of the lungs.
In March, Bengaluru-based scientists from the Centre for Nano and Soft Matter Sciences (CeNS) and the Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced and Scientific Research (JNCASR) developed an affordable solution to develop low-cost touch-cum-proximity sensors, popularly called touchless touch sensors, through a printing technique. The scientists set up a semi-automated production plant to produce printing-aided patterned transparent electrodes (a resolution of around 300 micrometres). It has the potential to be utilised in advanced touchless screen technologies. It could be used for self-service kiosks, ATMs, and vending machines.
As OpenGov Asia reported, the team fabricated a touch sensor that can sense a proximal or hover touch even from a distance of 9 centimetres from the device. The team also announced they would make several more prototypes using their patterned electrodes to prove their feasibility for other smart electronic applications. Industry players and research institutions and labs can access the technology on a request basis and through collaborative projects. The patterned transparent electrodes could be used in advanced smart electronic devices like touchless screens and sensors.
Students used to go to the library and open large books to find the information they needed but the education system has changed since the emergence of e-learning. Even before the pandemic, Instruction was increasingly conducted remotely and on digital platforms and has had a profound effect on education.
This shift was further accelerated when the pandemic hit, with all sectors and citizens realising the need to have the option to learn online. Many local governments gave students mobile devices, teachers were trained to maximise digital learning and used radio and TV lectures to bridge the divide created by the prolonged lockdowns.
Computers, laptops, smartphones and tablets are just a few examples of devices that have become indispensable in the new normal. These are no longer just for entertainment and are now widely used in the educational sector.
The power and significance of technology in education are more apparent than ever, as Filipino students require access to education even in times of crisis. The OpenGovLive! Virtual Breakfast Insight focused on the Philippines’ educational system, a vital component of a country’s cultural, social, and economic growth and development.
The Era of Digitalisation in Academe
Kicking off the session, Mohit Sagar, CEO & Editor-in-Chief, emphasised that this is the era of technology and digitalisation, and data is the backbone of infrastructure.
“With the rapid growth of the e-learning industry, the education sector is evolving. Teaching and learning methodologies have evolved. Students are savvy and the teachers need to be equally savvy,” Mohit stresses.
The pandemic had a significant impact on the educational sector in the Philippines, which had one of the world’s longest lockdowns. An estimated 28 million students stayed at home hoping to continue learning remotely but many were hampered by slow internet connections. Having a working device for use during classes was also a challenge for the less fortunate.
The prolonged closure prompted UNICEF to declare that there was learning loss, mental distress and an increased risk of dropping out. Fortunately, the use of cloud technology in education solves many problems and expands opportunities for both students and educational institutions.
Technological advancements have enabled educators to make learning enjoyable, engaging and interactive. Traditional methods of education are being quickly replaced by approaches developed from technology that are more participatory. In this situation, teachers can’t avoid adopting tech-savvy practices.
“Whatever organisation or industry uses cloud technology, it is always a game-changer. It is a solution to many existing problems in the educational sector, as well as an opportunity to explore various modern methods of learning,” Mohit says emphatically.
With all these changes, the academe is now also focusing more than ever on cyber security because of the surge in cyber-attacks, data breaches, and the release of sensitive information.
Security is of utmost importance for many enterprises and organisations, including learning. They are worried about the integrity of their information systems in addition to working to safeguard their system and employees from various risks and criminal threats. The concerns are serious and merit serious proactive action considering the spate of ransomware attacks on educational institutions in the U.S. – which may also happen in the Philippines.
Therefore, businesses, educational institutions, and governmental organisations greatly need cyber-security experts. The benefits of engaging computer security experts are numerous and obvious, especially if the institution manages sensitive data or has a large staff.
“Let’s make the most of all technological advancement, support one another, and keep looking for answers to the problems the education sector is currently facing,” Mohit exhorts delegates.
AWS for Education: Accelerating the Digital Transformation of Education
Julian Lau, Head of ASEAN Emerging Markets, Worldwide Public Sector, Amazon Web Services (AWS) acknowledges that the outbreak has caused a swift and widespread disruption that has forced instructors to alter their approach and ensure that all students continue to learn. Many campuses have closed and online techniques have replaced onsite instruction and evaluation.
Though it seems the tail-end of the pandemic, digital educational systems are here to stay even when onsite classes resume this school year.
“People skillset is not all about students and teachers, but it should refer to all departments to support the new normal. The education system has new learning tools to provide better education to the students,” says Julian.
He emphasises that hybrid learning is a new educational model in which some students attend class in person. In contrast, others join virtually from other locations, such as home, a dormitory, or coffee shops with internet access.
While blended and e-learning have been around for a while, hybrid learning is the next step. Blended learning provides digital, interactive and engaged teaching in the classroom and ensures that students attending remotely have the same learning experience. Hybrid learning, on the other hand, empowers students and gives them the choice of whether to learn in person or participate online.
Julian highlights the importance of collaboration with the entire education community, which could result in the accelerated digital transformation of the academic system.
He believes that the transformation journey in academe should begin with four basic principles: Modernising and securing the academy; turning data into wisdom; enriching the student experience, and empowering researchers and accelerating research.
Furthermore, Julian feels that a successful transformation journey needs collaboration and when looking for a partner he advises that people look for one who has the following capabilities to help the institution with its digital transformation:
- Global Infrastructure
- Breadth of Services
- Vibrant Community
- Customer-Focused Culture
- Low Cost
TESDA Online Programme: Philippines’ First Technical Online Course
Redilyn Agub, Chief TESD Specialist (e-TESDA), TESDA shared that as more courses become available on the platform, the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority’s online platform, eTESDA, keeps growing its online training programme.
A web-based platform – TESDA Online Program (TOP) – provides free Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) for the technical training and skill advancement of the Filipino workforce. With its 100+ courses, TOP provides a practical and efficient way to deliver technical-vocational education and training at the learner’s convenience utilising information and communication technology.
Students may learn through web scripts, instructional videos, visual materials, online quizzes, interactive learning materials and practice activities.
“Our email server had issues, but we were able to resolve them with the help of the other local government organisations and AWS. This is where the motivation for cloud migration begins,” Redilyn recalls.
She adds that some benefits of clouds for their agency include ease of migration, stable and scalable system, availability of services, technical support, cost efficiency, security, and ease of monitoring.
One benefit of enrolling in these online courses from TESDA is the ability to “learn at your own speed.” The students can continue working at their regular jobs or attending classes while also taking these courses whenever they have free time, so they do not need to miss out on these activities.
Additionally, since classes are free, students are not required to pay tuition for their daily activities. The fact that the courses are given on demand also makes it simple for students to go back to their readings whenever they need to brush up on their knowledge.
TESDA’s use of cloud computing enables them to expand its activities internationally even the Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) can enrol and gain certificates.
No matter how far a college is from where they live, students can select where to attend. Additionally, there is a chance to acquire access to knowledge repositories around the world and contribute to the knowledge bank’s overall accumulation for the benefit of all.
Finally, the best thing about taking a course with eTESDA is that they grant a certificate once students pass an assessment test at a TESDA assessment centre.
After the informative talks, the delegates participated in conversations facilitated by polling questions. OpenGovLive! Virtual Breakfast Insight is intended to give live audience interaction, encourage participation, let people hear about real-life experiences, and help participants learn and grow professionally.
On being asked what their cloud strategy is, an overwhelming majority (73%) answered hybrid cloud while others opted for are all on-premises (15%) or multi-cloud (12%).
Inquiring on how they rate their cloud adoption, about a third (35%) said they based it on customer/citizen satisfaction. Just over a quarter (27%) based it on high availability/downtime management. The remaining delegates use cloud consumption/utilisation (15%) or resource productivity and efficiency (12%) as their metrics.
One delegate felt that everything goes well when they focus on customer satisfaction while another believes it is users’ needs that are important.
Regarding the criterion for selecting cloud providers, well over a third (36%) opted for performance, while others chose security (28%) or innovation (12%).
Asked what they thought was the biggest problem with going digital and moving to the cloud, 36% cited people and skillset while 24% felt executive support/top management strategy to be concerning. The budget was an issue for a fifth (20%) and the remaining delegates (16%) has problems with legacy infrastructure.
Sharing their plans to modernise their application and legacy systems, over half (54%) said they would work with a cloud service provider. The rest were equally split between outsourcing to a system integrator (19%) and application assessment to move to the cloud (19%).
The final question asked the delegates what external assistance they believe is most needed for cloud migration. The majority (32%) voted for technical expertise to execute the cloud migration plan. The rest of the delegates were almost evenly divided over risk assessment and management (28%) and technical expertise to plan and project management (24%).
COVID-19 presents an opportunity to rethink education, which should focus more on what, how, and where students could learn. The possibility of large-scale, long-term changes in academia is dependent on many factors, but a big part is influenced by decision-makers and the public’s appreciation of online learning which was massively used during the pandemic. Through the prolonged lockdowns, parents, educators, students, and the government saw classes can continue and remain effective even when held online.
One of the greatest benefits of cloud technology as a strategy is that it gives students access to education regardless of disruptions outside the home. For a country that experiences more than 20 typhoons annually which disrupt classes, this benefit would have a significant impact on the learner’s progress -with no disruption and fewer reasons to drop out.
A blended learning approach mixes in-person learning sessions with online lessons that the teacher may record or conduct live. With better access to resources, instructional strategies, and support, this model offers instructors a wide range of opportunities for professional growth. As the students gain more liberty to investigate and research diverse topics, the model provides them with an opportunity for deeper comprehension.
Another huge potential provided by cloud computing is to accommodate the various learning preferences and rates of pupils. The kids’ ability to absorb knowledge will be improved.
On the other hand, many enterprises think they can handle everything internally, many firms may be reluctant to collaborate with a partner for cloud migration. However, many companies will inevitably make mistakes that end up costing them much more than the money they anticipated saving by switching to the cloud.
Partners like AWS can help the educational sector create efficiencies and make their strategies more effective by utilising their expertise and experience in cloud technology. Each cloud provider offers distinct advantages for the service they can provide, and users only pay for what they use.
In closing, Julian emphasises that the support of top management is crucial in jumpstarting and maintaining the digital transformation of an organisation. “Digital transformation is not something that you do yourself. You need to get the support of the top management, and everything will follow.”
The mission scenarios were complex and realistic, encompassing modern tactics and electronic warfare during the recently concluded large-scale air-to-air combat exercise dubbed Exercise Red Flag – Alaska. The Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) has completed its participation in this exercise which was hosted by the United States Air Force (USAF) at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska.
The RSAF deployed 10 RSAF F-15SG fighter aircraft and over 140 RSAF personnel from Peace Carvin V (PC V) Detachment to participate in which the airmen and women were able to share their abilities with those of the USAF and collaborated closely to achieve their mission objectives.
“Exercise Red Flag – Alaska is an important opportunity for RSAF personnel to train and sharpen our operational competencies. We are thankful to the USAF for being generous hosts, and look forward to future opportunities to train together,” says LTC Shewan Goh, the RSAF PC V Detachment Commander.
More than 70 aircraft participated in this edition of Exercise Red Flag – Alaska, including USAF F-18, F-16, EA-18G, and A-10 fighter aircraft. The RSAF and USAF collaborated on integrated missions in realistic threat and combat scenarios, honing combat readiness and sharpening operational competencies.
Having other forces exercise alongside the USAF improves its joint interoperability. They can put their capabilities to the test through Exercise Red Flag, which provides a demanding and realistic combat scenario.
During the exercise, the RSAF demonstrated exceptional tactics and competencies while bringing significant capability to the fight. Through such exercises, they can also continue to hone how they work together and strengthen their professional and personal relationships.
Since 1984, the RSAF has taken part in Exercise Red Flag – Alaska (previously known as Exercise Cope Thunder). The exercise highlights Singapore and the United States’ excellent and long-standing defence relationship. It improves professionalism and coordination among participating forces and allows the RSAF to benchmark itself against other leading air forces.
Meanwhile, the 16th ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting (ADMM), which was attended by Minister of Defence Dr Ng Eng Hen, adopted the Joint Declaration on Defence Cooperation to Strengthen Solidarity for Harmonized Security.
The Declaration reaffirmed the countries’ commitment to strengthening strategic dialogue and practical defence cooperation through the ADMM and ADMM-Plus as the region’s key security architecture, as well as the importance of ASEAN centrality and the need to uphold a rules-based order based on international law. Dr Ng emphasised that the discussion was fruitful and covered a wide range of current security issues, including cyber and information threats.
The ADMM Cybersecurity and Information Centre of Excellence (ACICE), which is based in Singapore and was set up last year to share information and build capacity against threats in the cyber and information domains, was given its Terms of Reference at the meeting.
Additionally, ADMM-ACICE aims to promote knowledge exchange and capacity building among the ASEAN member states’ defence establishments to combat cyberattacks, disinformation campaigns, and false information. The centre will support the ASEAN Cyber Defence Network in fostering regional exchanges, engagements, and cooperation on cyber-security issues, according to the Singapore Ministry of Defence (MINDEF).
Furthermore, the 16th ADMM also adopted the Phnom Penh Vision on the Role of Defence Establishments in Support of COVID-19 Recovery, co-sponsored by Cambodia and Singapore.
The ASEAN Centre of Military Medicine and the Network of ASEAN Chemical, Biological and Radiological (CBR) Defence Experts are two ways in which the ADMM has contributed to national COVID-19 initiatives that are recognised in the Vision. It commits to continuing cooperation to aid the region’s recovery from the pandemic, such as by utilising the Network of ASEAN CBR Defence Experts to share information and lessons learned in combating the pandemic.
To conduct a proof-of-concept on the use of space-based Very High Frequency (VHF) voice for communication between pilots and air traffic controllers for air traffic management, the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) and the Economic Development Board’s Office for Space Technology and Industry (OSTIn) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with partner companies.
The novel technology’s viability and advantages over ground-based VHF voice communications will be shown in the proof of concept, and the data will be gathered for international review, standards creation, and acceptance.
As global and regional air traffic continues to grow, CAAS is committed to leveraging new technologies to enhance air traffic management to improve efficiency and reduce carbon emissions, and to being a pathfinder and convenor of the public-private partnership needed to drive development and global adoption of such technologies.
– Han Kok Juan, Director-General, Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore
The Director-General added that the space-based VHF communications technology has the potential to revolutionise aviation, improving safety, effectiveness, and sustainability while expanding capacity to handle the growing demand for air travel. If this proof of concept is effective, it will be a big step toward acceptance and adoption around the world.
Pilots and air traffic controllers currently communicate with one another via VHF voice communications. For instance, pilots can ask for clearance to ascend or descend, and air traffic controllers can adjust a flight path in reaction to weather or turbulence.
The communication must be trustworthy, direct, and immediate to ensure safe and effective air traffic management, particularly in congested airspaces and during abnormal and emergency situations.
Moreover, due to the ground-based nature of present VHF stations, there is little to no coverage for VHF voice communications in maritime, hilly, or remote places that are outside the range of ground-based stations, which poses operational challenges. Air traffic control will be safer and more effective because of the expanded coverage provided by space-based VHF voice communications.
Before they may be used for safe operations, space-based VHF voice communications must first undergo technical feasibility studies, evaluation, and standardisation by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) and the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).
The CAAS-OSTIn and partner companies’ proof of concept is the first technical research where a specially manufactured satellite will be launched into orbit to contain VHF communications gear for such a trial, even though there have been earlier technical studies in this area.
The trial’s goal is to show that space-based communications are compatible with aircraft technology and already-existing ground radio stations, with equivalent speech quality, latency, and other standards to ground-based voice communications.
The trial will specifically show that space-based voice communications are feasible for the equatorial region, where the scintillation effect that degrades the quality of VHF audio communications is known to be particularly severe. Beginning in 2023, the proof of concept will take a year to complete. After that, CAAS will present the findings and data to the ICAO and ITU for review and discussion.
Between CAAS-OSTIn and partner companies, the program delivers strong complementary skills. The testbed for the trial will be provided by CAAS, a prominent provider of air navigation services that is at the forefront of technological development and adoption.
The development and application of space capabilities to aviation as well as the creation of a space eco-system will be examined by OSTIn, Singapore’s national space office, to support the endeavour. Moreover, joint ventures will put the satellite into orbit and supply the hardware and communications infrastructure.
The Centre for Civil Society and Governance of The University of Hong Kong and a global tech giant recently jointly announced a request for proposals (RFP) for the company’s AR/VR Policy Research in the Asia Pacific region. This research initiative invites the region’s academic community to develop solutions-focused research to support the responsible development of augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) technologies.
This includes identifying positive approaches to address policy issues and challenges, as well as opportunities in the metaverse and augmented and virtual reality, ultimately giving people the power to build community and bring the world closer together.
With the metaverse becoming the next chapter of the internet, Meta’s vision is to have a billion people accessing the metaverse as part of their daily lives within ten years. That relies on people being in control of their experiences and feeling safe and secure. This RFP reaffirms the tech giant’s commitment to ensuring the responsible development and use of AR/VR technologies and building strong collaborations with policymakers, experts and industry partners to bring the metaverse to life.
The Director of the Centre for Civil Society and Governance stated that the RFP forms part of the Tech for Good Initiative that aims to bring scholars and practitioners together to catch up with the latest development of technologies and explore how the interplay between emerging technologies and public policy works. The Centre is committed to the attainment of a sustainable society and advanced technologies will help address some of the most critical sustainability challenges we are facing today.
The Centre for Civil Society and Governance of The University of Hong Kong and the company are inviting faculty to respond to this call for research proposals on the following topics:
- Economic opportunity: people can be given more choice, how competition can be encouraged, how a thriving digital economy can be maintained
- Privacy: how the amount of data used can be minimised, how to build technology to enable privacy-protective data uses, and give people transparency and control over their data
- Safety and integrity: how people can be kept safe online and be given tools to take action or get help if they see something they’re not comfortable with
- Equity and inclusion: ensuring these technologies are designed inclusively and in a way that’s accessible
- New Use Cases: what are new applications of immersive technology that create substantial value for people and communities
The research initiative targets to award a total of 6 awards, each in the US$100,000 range funded by the firm’s XR Programs and Research Fund, a two-year US$50 million investment in programmes and independent external research to help in the effort of building the metaverse responsibly. The submission deadline is 25 July 2022, and the results will be announced on 5 September 2022.
The global augmented reality and virtual reality market, in the current year (2022), is expected to have a market size of US$37.0 billion and grow up to US$114.5 billion by 2027 within a 5-year forecast period at a market growth rate of 25.3%.
The driving factors behind this growth include increased healthcare applications of augmented reality, increased applications of augmented reality and virtual reality in retail and e-commerce, strong government funding for the facilitation of growth of the AR and VR market, partnerships between augmented reality device manufacturers and various service industries, the rise in the usage and demand for virtual reality in e-learning, medical training, increased demand of virtual reality in manufacturing divisions.
The establishment of the China-Singapore (Chongqing) Multi-Modal Distribution and Connectivity Centre or DC Centre aims to improve both countries’ transportation and logistics ecosystems, as well as strengthen supply chain resilience and accelerate trade digitalisation.
The partnership, according to Josephine Teo, Minister of Communications, and Information, is an important step in the continued development of Singapore’s and Chongqing’s roles as mutual hubs of Southeast Asia and Western China, respectively.
As a key project of the China-Singapore (Chongqing) Demonstration Initiative on Strategic Connectivity (CCI) and logistics priority area, the DC Centre will be a physical location for multimodal operations in Chongqing and help build the CCI-New International Land-Sea Trade Corridor.
With this new facility in place, there will be greater opportunities for collaboration between Singapore, Chongqing, and other international partners in some areas.
– Josephine Teo, Minister of Communications and Information
Minister Teo emphasised first the improving logistics and transportation systems on both sides. To better integrate Chongqing’s key road, rail, and river logistics nodes and give logistics participants a smooth experience, the DC Centre will complement current and planned facilities including the Guoyuan Port and Yuzui Terminal South Yard.
In 2017, Minister Teo recalls the inauguration of the two joint venture companies of Singapore and China -the Sino-Singapore (Chongqing) Connectivity Solutions Company Limited or S1 and Sino-Singapore (Chongqing) DC Multimodal Logistics Company Limited or S2. Now, a training and placement programme will be formed between S1 and the Chongqing Finance and Economics College, with specialised training taking place within the DC Centre itself, to expand the talent pool of Chongqing’s logistics business.
Second, the Minister highlighted the improved supply chain resilience. In an era of global supply chain disruption, the CCI-New International Land-Sea Trade Corridor can determine its value by linking land and sea routes to provide the flow of essential goods, specifically perishable and time-sensitive supplies. To that end, she encourages all interested parties to join the Corridor by utilising key nodes such as the DC Centre and improving connectivity and trade flows between regions.
Minister Teo also stressed the hastening of trade digitalisation. In response to the growing importance of the digital economy, Singapore and Chongqing are encouraging the exchange of digital data and documents to improve supply chain visibility and facilitate seamless cross-border cargo movement. She welcomes more companies to join them in these endeavours, including those from adjacent sectors such as trade financing.
OpenGov Asia earlier reported that 17 Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) were signed among Singapore and Chongqing businesses in 2020 on the side-lines of the Smart China Expo (SCE) Online, as enterprises continue to explore opportunities despite pandemic restrictions. The MoUs included collaborations in the built environment and manufacturing, as well as logistics and tourism for markets in Chongqing, Western China, and Singapore.
On the other hand, at the annual Smart China Expo in Chongqing in 2019, Singapore and Chinese companies signed 13 agreements for collaborative efforts to use digital technologies in education, manufacturing, and telecommunications.
In the same year, the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA), Enterprise Singapore, and the Chongqing Application Development Administration Bureau launched the Joint Innovation Development Fund (JIDF), an RMB$ 40 million initiative to promote the joint development of innovative products and solutions, which may include research and development and pilots to promote innovative technologies such as robotics, IoT, augmented reality, virtual reality, and artificial intelligence. The fund’s goal is to catalyse projects that have the potential to generate significant economic benefits for the companies and countries involved.