It is undeniable that retail is extremely profitable in Malaysia; it accounts for 10 per cent of the nation’s GDP, according to a recent report.
The sector is doing so well that the country will be able to boast of up to 700 shopping malls by the end of next year, which is roughly equivalent to a whopping 170 million square footage of the net lettable area.
Moreover, as the country’s economy increasingly more service-focused, and in line with Malaysia’s rapid digital transformation journey, local retailers and mall operators are adopting innovative future technologies to enhance customer experience and boost sales.
These technologies include facial recognition and shopper tracking system to obtain data that could be used to derive valuable insights.
In conversation with local media, the general manager of a Kuala Lumpur-based mall noted that the mall is currently trialling a new shopper tracking system that is capable of identifying shoppers’ unique mobile phones.
Noting that the project was in its initial phase, the GM stated that the tech enables developers to determine how many times a person comes to the mall and where they go while concurrently providing information on the number of shoppers at the mall. The tech is also able to provide an accurate account of the weekly and monthly foot traffic.
The data will be then be analysed to differentiate the shoppers to provide them customized notifications and promotions based on their shopping pattern, dwell time, travel history, and frequency.
The GM stated that the tech would allow analysts to automatically detect if it is a customer’s birthday and then notify them of special promotions in certain outlets. It was noted that this will be worked on in the second phase of developing the tech.
According to him, the technology was first rolled out by Sunway Pyramid in Kuala Lumpur’s suburb of Petaling Jaya.
The GM reportedly stands by the robustness of the system that also features functions that track children and avoids double counting. The tech also serves as a tool to measure the effectiveness of promotional campaigns.
It was noted that there are 55-56 sensors throughout the mall which cover different zones. They track where a person goes to, from one zone to another, and capture how many people are there at a particular time and how many people are there in an atrium – analysts are then able to generate reports using this information.
The set-up cost for the system ranges from RM115,800 to RM 148,900 with about RM10,340 being the monthly recurring cost. The tech is already widely adopted in malls in Malaysia’s neighbouring country, Singapore.
Meanwhile, Malaysian Retail Chain Association (MRCA) via its training arm MRCA Academy has been on a quest to promote digital transformation and adoption of future technologies such as facial recognition and data analytics among its members to increase efficiency and maintain a competitive edge.
The MRCA Academy deputy chancellor stated that technology will catalyse the retail industry to unprecedented growth, and enterprises should take advantage of the cutting edge solutions that are based on future technologies.
The Personal Data Protection Act makes it unlawful to record images of shoppers, but according to him, facial recognition technology could be utilized in other ways, to create a profile of individual shoppers based on their age group and gender.
The deputy chancellor noted that facial recognition can tell whether the person is a staff or supplier. If a customer walks past a store but doesn’t walk in, it can also tell the store owner how many people didn’t come into their store.
The tech is a way for store owners and operators to understand why customers don’t come in, and how to rectify this issue.
While cost will always be a significant stumbling block in any new digital initiative, traditional retail players must work on digital solutions consistently in order to keep customers coming back to the stores.
Indonesia’s Central Bank (Bank Indonesia/BI) worked with five ASEAN countries, including the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, and Thailand, to provide cross-border payment through QR. In a series of events at the G20 Bali Summit, the five ASEAN countries agreed on Regional Payment Digital Connectivity. The collaboration will make the Indonesian Standard Quick Response Code (QRIS) more widely available in five ASEAN countries.
The Ministry of Communication and Informatics welcomed the discussion. Usman Kansong, Director General of Information and Public Communication at the Ministry of Communication and Information (Kemkominfo) asserted that the ministry supports efforts to integrate payment systems through QRIS ASEAN.
“Because it is related to the digital economy, Kominfo is very supportive; we will provide the infrastructure. For example, we are also putting together an internet network,” said Usman on the sidelines of Jakarta’s 2023 ASEAN Indonesia Chair Kick-Off event.
The five countries’ central banks have held discussions on various occasions to implement cross-border payment system connectivity in the region. Bank Indonesia began payment system connectivity cooperation with other central banks in the area, initially with five countries in the region.
The agreement will be documented as a memorandum of understanding (MOU). At the same time, this initiative demonstrates Indonesia’s regional leadership in implementing the G20 agreement.
Regional Payment Digital Connection among 5 ASEAN Countries, according to Governor of Bank Indonesia (BI) Perry Warjiyo, is a physical representation of how digital connectivity in ASEAN is an example for other countries to help economic recovery in each country regionally.
“Wherever we go in these five ASEAN countries, we can utilise QR payment, QRIS in Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, and the Philippines, and it will be a rapid payment system, instantly,” Perry explained.
Meanwhile, according to Esther Sri Astuti Soeryaningrum from an economic and finance NGO, the introduction of QRIS will aid financial integration in ASEAN. At the same time, there are still some hurdles to tackle. However, she mentioned that QRIS, as a non-cash transaction method, can help collaborating countries make cross-border payments easier without needing a money changer.
“With QRIS, we don’t have to worry about converting rupiah currency for other currencies, and we don’t have to do cash transactions, which are riskier and require a higher level of security,” she explained.
Moreover, the Indonesia Central Bank (Bank Indonesia/BI) expanded its payment cooperation network with Japan in December. The signing of a Memorandum of Cooperation (NK) addressing QR-based payment by BI and Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry (METI). Dody B. Waluyo, Deputy Governor of BI, stated that the partnership on QR-based payment between BI and METI Japan would be a key concern for regulatory authorities and industry, given that the NK in question has the potential to strengthen economic relations between Indonesia and Japan.
The QR-based payment collaboration aims to accelerate cooperation on the implementation and interoperability of cross-border or country payments using QR codes, specifically the QR Code Indonesian Standard (QRIS) and the Japan Unified QR Code (JPQR). Furthermore, this collaboration will create a framework that permits QR-based payments between the two countries and other parties, such as payment system operators (SP).
The agreement marks the beginning of BI and METI Japan’s collaboration to carry out various activities related to the interconnectivity of QR-based payment systems, such as policy dialogue, technical cooperation, and the formation of working groups to ensure goals are met, such as efforts to implement QR-based cross-border payments to support people-to-people transactions in both countries. This collaboration is expected to promote payment system digitisation in both Indonesia and Japan.
HKUST and ASTRI announced that they will be partnering to establish an initial Joint PhD programme through the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU). The MoU was signed by HKUST’s Provost and ASTRI’s Chief Executive Officer at HKUST’s campus in the presence of HKUST’s President and ASTRI’s Board of Directors Chairman.
As per the MoU, HKUST and ASTRI will jointly screen and select eligible candidates who will work as full-time R&D staff at ASTRI while pursuing a part-time PhD degree at HKUST. The selected candidates will have the chance to participate in leading-edge research projects that encompass artificial intelligence, big data, wireless communications, smart city, and advanced materials. Additionally, they will also be involved in R&D projects related to their PhD studies. Experienced R&D staff members from ASTRI may be appointed as HKUST’s adjunct professors and serve as co-supervisors for the PhD students.
With the backing of the nation, the Hong Kong government emphasised the significance of advancing innovation and technology (I&T) in the “2022 Policy Address.” The “I&T Development Blueprint” created by the government in December outlines a comprehensive plan for Hong Kong’s I&T growth in the next 5 to 10 years, including strategies such as improving the I&T environment and expanding the pool of I&T talent.
The Joint PhD programme aims to contribute to these efforts by fostering talent who can turn their research into commercial success while gaining the necessary knowledge and credentials to prepare for their careers.
The Chairman of the ASTRI Board of Directors stated that as Hong Kong’s top R&D organisation, ASTRI is dedicated to supporting the government’s initiatives outlined in the “I&T Development Blueprint” and “Competing for Talents” plans.
The first launch of the Joint PhD Programme with HKUST is anticipated to draw and retain talented individuals in I&T who want to pursue PhD studies or research in Hong Kong, thereby providing a strong pool of I&T talent to help make Hong Kong a smart city and a global hub for I&T.
The President of HKUST stated that the University is committed to its mission of promoting knowledge through education and research. With its strong foundation in basic research and partnerships with various industrial partners, including ASTRI, HKUST is well-positioned to bridge the gap between fundamental and applied research.
This will not only enhance Hong Kong’s innovation and technology ecosystem, cultivate top-notch talent for Hong Kong, the nation, and beyond, but also enable the commercialisation of HKUST’s research results for the benefit of society.
The Chief Executive Officer of ASTRI stated that bringing research and development results to fruition is a central objective of ASTRI. To maintain close ties with the academic community, the Memorandum of Understanding with HKUST was signed to foster joint R&D and technology commercialisation in February 2022, followed by this Joint PhD Programme a year later. The programme is expected to will effectively sharpen students’ creativity, critical thinking, and global perspective, enhancing their competitiveness on a global scale and hastening the implementation of HKUST’s R&D breakthroughs.
HKUST’s Provost expressed excitement about the joint PhD programme with ASTRI, stating that it is crucial to talent development for Hong Kong’s growth into an international innovation and technology hub.
The programme will use the strengths of both organisations to provide specialists with opportunities to acquire skills and qualifications while conducting R&D projects. The programme is expected to enhance Hong Kong’s talent development and expand its talent pool.
Senator Win Gatchalian advocated that the online filing of tax returns includes overseas Filipino workers so they can meet their obligations while away from the country. In addition, non-residents and those working abroad will find it easier to pay real estate and estate taxes, among other things, thanks to the online payment system.
According to BIR data, internet payment has increased tax payment participation. Tax returns are expected to rise dramatically in 2020 to approximately 94% of total tax returns filed electronically, up from only 43% in 2015. As a result, abroad and non-resident tax subjects should be accommodated through the Bureau of Internal Revenue’s Electronic Filing and Payment System (BIR).
“If we want to enhance our efficiency in tax collection, we need to make it easy for our people to pay their taxes. “We need to fix our system and provide better options for our taxpayers to increase tax compliance,” Gatchalian stated.
Gatchalian’s Senate Bill 1346, or the Ease of Paying Tax, incorporates the proposal, which proposes administrative tax changes by altering several parts of the National Internal Revenue Code of 1997.
Apart from allowing taxpayers to file their returns and pay their taxes electronically, the measure also intends to enable taxpayers to pay their taxes at any authorised agent bank (AAB) rather than simply AABs in the revenue district office where the taxpayer is registered.
According to the World Bank 2020 study, the Philippines ranks 95th in paying taxes, 120th in registering property, and 171st out of 190 nations in terms of beginning a business. As a result, the House of Representatives asks the government to react to the industry’s changing needs by establishing programmes and solutions to transition to a digital economy.
Senate Bill No. 1574, also known as the “Act Institutionalising E-Governance in the Government,” mandates that all government agencies, offices, and instrumentalities, including local government units, disclose all essential information via traditional and internet channels. The Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) will be the primary agency in charge of executing the Act’s requirements.
It sought to build the Integrated Government Network as the master plan and principal way of sharing and transmitting resources, information, and data among government departments through digital and electronic platforms. The regulation also required establishing and maintaining a “GovMail” network for all communications, information dissemination, and exchange.
Vietnam is making similar efforts to avoid tax losses. They tighten management and strengthen control of e-commerce activities to uncover infractions and potential tax liabilities associated. The E-commerce and Digital Economy Agency of the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT) will collaborate with departments from the Ministry of Information and Communications (MIC) and the Ministry of Finance to share data and better regulate commercial activities on social media and in cyberspace.
Following plans approved by the Minister of Industry and Trade, the E-commerce and Digital Economy Agency will continue to collaborate with other government agencies such as the Market Management Agency, the Department of Cybersecurity and High-Tech Crime Prevention, the Ministry of Science and Technology, and MIC to inspect and monitor e-commerce businesses for compliance with the law.
In December, the General Department of Taxation (GDT) launched its e-commerce information portal and enabled electronic billing from cash registers. The portal serves three purposes: it assists e-commerce platforms in information supply and tax declaration on behalf of individuals, and it helps individuals file tax declarations.
According to the GDT, the tax sector reduced administrative procedures from 304 in 2021 to 234 in 2021 and finished integrating and providing online public services on the National Public Service Portal, saving time and money in tax administrative operations.
Researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in the United States (U.S.) have developed biosensors to detect the presence of or predisposition to various illnesses, including cancer. A novel biosensor chip with an accurate and low-cost architecture may enhance access to high-quality examinations.
The capacity to detect these signs, called biomarkers, enables medical practitioners to make vital early diagnoses and give individualised therapies. Because traditional screening procedures might be time-consuming, costly, or limited in what they can reveal, they also combined the biosensors with extremely low-power FET Internet of Things (IoT) devices to boost the sensors’ responsiveness. The FET was created at CEA-LETI to amplify signals in smartwatches, personal assistants, and other gadgets.
“This is a scalable technique. In principle, we can integrate hundreds, if not thousands, of sensors in an area of one square millimetre into a console the size of a smartphone, which is far less burdensome than some of the latest equipment used in the clinic,” said NIST researcher Arvind Balijepalli, a co-author of the new study developed by researchers at NIST Brown University and the French government-funded research institute CEA-Leti.
The researchers reported the results of a study that proves the device’s excellent sensitivity and precision despite its modularity, which is commonly associated with decreased performance, in a paper recently uploaded online from the 2018 IEEE International Electron Devices Meeting.
The biosensor recognises biomarkers by detecting how DNA threads bond to the device. Its modular architecture distinguishes it from related sensors, lowering costs by making mass production more accessible and allowing the most expensive parts to be reused.
Like other DNA biosensors, the device makes use of the fact that a single DNA strand is ready for chemical bonding when it is not coupled with another within the recognisable double helix. Instead, a portion of the device has single strands of DNA coated on it. When these “probes” come into contact with DNA biomarkers with a matched or complementary genetic sequence, the two strands join, sending a signal that the gadget detects.
When a strand of target DNA binds to a probe, it causes a voltage shift that may be measured using a semiconductor device called a field-effect transistor (FET). As the molecules pop on and off the sensor, these voltage shifts can occur hundreds of times per second. This method tells you whether a DNA strand is attached to a probe and how long it takes to connect and disengage.
Improving signal detection
FET-based methods have yet to hit the mainstream, however. A significant stumbling block is their single-use nature, which has now seemed necessary but has increased its cost. The signal gets harder to measure because of the electrical signal’s noise when they must travel longer within electronics.
DNA probes in FET-based sensors usually are attached to the transistor directly, which converts the signal into readable data and limits noise. But the probes and whole device signal are weaker after exposure to a sample. Then they utilise the Internet of Things (IoT) FET to accommodate the losses. The NIST authors paired their circuitry with a specific type of low-power FET developed at CEA-LETI that is used in smartwatches, personal assistants, and other devices to amplify signals and compensate for the lost sensitivity.
The researchers found that the binding kinetics were sensitive enough to make accurate measurements even at low concentrations. Overall, the modular design performed similarly to integrated, nonmodular FET-based biosensors. The modular design performed similarly to integrated, nonmodular FET-based biosensors. The next step in their research is determining if their sensor can perform similarly with varying DNA sequences caused by mutations. Because many diseases are caused or exacerbated by altered DNA, this skill is critical for clinical diagnosis.
The University of South Australia and the South Australian Institute of Sport (SASI) have joined forces to establish a top-notch sports research and education facility in Mile End, focusing on high-performance sports.
The new cutting-edge complex integrates essential sports and educational resources to aid athletes in reaching peak performance, offer university students hands-on, industry-focused learning, and provide research-based solutions for sports in South Australia. The new SASI will share a location with the National Centre for Sports Aerodynamics, UniSA Sports Science Hub, SA Athletics Stadium, and Netball SA Stadium at Mile End.
The global sports technology market was valued at US$12.17 billion in 2021 and is projected to grow at a CAGR of 19.6% from 2022 to 2030. With the growing demand for data-driven decision-making and operations in sports events, the sports tech industry is expected to experience significant growth due to the increased adoption of data analytics, IoT, and social media integration in various sports.
The demand for technology-based solutions in the sports sector is driven by a focus on enhancing audience engagement and entertainment, and the digitisation of stadiums. The market has seen growth with increased investments by organisations in adopting advanced technologies for monitoring player performance and fan engagement.
The UniSA Sports Science Hub provides UniSA sports science students with real-world learning opportunities, the chance to work with top industry professionals and elite athletes, and a well-rounded education for a successful career.
UniSA Vice Chancellor Professor David Lloyd states the new facility will offer dynamic, connected learning experiences for students. He stated that the new UniSA Sports Science Hub offers exceptional potential for enhancing research, education, and commercial partnerships with SASI and other sports industry partners located at the same site.
Coaches and health professionals will collaborate to conduct innovative research to better equip athletes for competition. The UniSA Sports Science Hub boasts state-of-the-art facilities and expertise to provide top-notch education, training, and research, benefiting South Australia’s sports industry both now and in the future.
The new UniSA Sports Science Hub, the only one of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere, features specialised teaching and research areas such as exercise classrooms, biomechanics labs, exercise testing gear, and an environmental chamber.
The new facility aims to inspire children to participate in sports, allowing them to reap the physical, mental, and social benefits. To motivate the children, South Australia’s athletes representing the state on a global level need access to top-notch facilities, and this project will provide them for the long term. The new SASI-UniSA partnership demonstrates South Australia’s sports industry’s innovative and pioneering spirit.
The Minister for Recreation, Sport and Racing emphasised that the new facilities will motivate future generations to participate more in sports and physical activity. She added that some of South Australia’s greatest athletes developed their talent in Adelaide at SASI. When these and other remarkable athletes excel, future generations are motivated, leading to an increase in sports and physical activity participation.
The Minister also said that as sports institutes worldwide adopt advancing technology for a competitive advantage, the cutting-edge SASI facility will maintain South Australia’s leadership in sports performance and research, aid staff and athletes, and enable more young athletes to pursue their athletic aspirations. Works are set to commence in early 2023, with the project expected to be completed by mid-2024.
The government released Presidential Regulation Number 132 of 2022 About the National Electronic-Based Government System Architecture to close corruption loopholes and improve government services to the people through integrated digital transformation (SPBE).
The National SPBE Architecture is vital for carrying out government business processes correctly and eliminating redundant government business processes to improve public services. The National SPBE design, according to Mahfud, is also projected to decline the repetition of ICT applications and infrastructure and increase information security.
“Integrated digital transformation can ultimately close the gaps in corruption in the service process and the use of state funds. The implementation provides quick, accurate, and transparent monitoring,” said Mahfud MD, Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal, and Security Affairs, at a Ministerial Level Coordination Meeting discussing the Acceleration of Implementation of National SPBE at the Coordinating Ministry for Political, Legal, and Security Affairs.
The coordination meeting also reviewed the integration of the SPBE architecture’s development of the Information Technology-Based Integrated Criminal Justice System (SPPT-TI). The consolidation will involve digitalisation and the standardisation of the quality of national digital services.
SPBE’s position as a catalyst in speeding national development necessitates synergy from numerous initiatives stipulated in the National Medium-Term Development Plan for 2O2O-2O24. It would also assist the unification of government services through an interoperable data and information-sharing system in compliance with the One Data Indonesia strategy.
Furthermore, the Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs stated that cross-sectoral cooperation in the fields of Politics, Economy, Maritime Affairs, and Investment, as well as Human Development and Culture, was needed to ramp up the coordination of the national programme between government agencies.
“Each Coordinating Ministry is responsible for advancing SPBE implementation in the ministries/agencies under its management,” he explained.
On a separate occasion, the Ministry of Administrative Reform and Bureaucratic Reform (PANRB) convened a working session with members of the National Electronic-Based Government System Coordination Team (SPBE). The session covered a variety of issues, including efforts to accelerate the implementation of a digital government that is clean, effective, visible, and responsible.
E-catalogue is another effort to promote efficiency and minimise corruption which will digitally document government procurement transaction procedures.
Digitisation of government administration is one technique for developing an effective bureaucracy. The state civil apparatus (ASN) must move away from routine and toward a creative culture to improve people’s happiness. To be adopted, however, digitalisation must have genuine repercussions or implications on poverty reduction rates and investment growth.
Meanwhile, the Philippines has made a similar effort to prevent corruption by implementing Integrated Financial Management Information Systems (IFMIS) (IFMIS). The Public Financial Management Committee (PFMC) has authorised an integrated solution for transparent tracking of public money disbursements and appropriations.
BTMS is an important IFMIS component. The system is a web-based, completely automated, and centralised database that will help generate crucial information on all areas of government financial operations and function as an online ledger where transactions are documented in real-time from purchase to payment.
The government believes that the digital transformation initiative and convergence hub can improve government system performance. The system will deliver real-time and consolidated reports, improve company efficiency and system resilience, and prevent corruption.
On the other hand, Thailand’s government intended to produce a law document that will enable anti-corruption organisations, to prohibit illegal online transactions and cybercrime. Furthermore, to improve access to public information, the Ministry of Digital Economy and Society (DES) has accelerated the development of a technological infrastructure system to support people’s use and reduce inequities in obtaining information via computer networks or online.
They also enacted the Personal Data Protection Act B.E. 2019 to safeguard the personal information (PDPA). The Personal Data Protection Regulation and Cross-Border Data Transfer are defined in the statute designed to protect private data rights. As a result, it is critical to retain citizens’ interest and safety in the internet environment.
Prof. Zhang Li from CUHK’s Mechanical and Automation Engineering Department has created multi-functional small machines using three wetting traits of ferrofluids. These machines not only show improved deformation abilities but also offer various motion modes, expanding possibilities for miniature soft machines in biomedical applications.
The results of the research were published in Nature Communications and highlighted on its “Applied physics and mathematics” Editor’s Highlights site.
Amoeba-inspired soft machines that can change shape dramatically, split and join, have the potential for real-world use. These systems show promise for biomedical applications such as targeted drug delivery, minimally invasive surgery, cell transplantation, and medical catheters.
Utilising ferrofluid soft machines
Small magnetic soft machines are commonly made by combining hard magnetic particles with soft matter like hydrogels. However, their limited ability to deform makes it hard for them to move through narrow spaces like small lumens that have openings smaller or equal to the machine’s size. Thus, there is a need to discover new materials for building miniature soft machines with improved capabilities.
Prof. Zhang collaborated with Prof. Carmel Majidi from Carnegie Mellon University to create diverse soft machines using the three wetting properties of ferrofluids and their ability to change shape. These machines can perform multiple functions.
Ferrofluid is a liquid composed of tiny ferromagnetic/ferrimagnetic particles suspended in a fluid. In low-wetting states, a magnetic field can control the ferrofluid’s movement and shape, allowing it to perform various actions like stretching, jumping, rotating, tumbling, kayaking, wobbling, splitting, merging, and adapting to complex terrain. Ferrofluid droplets can also be transformed into liquid capsules to transport cargo through narrow passages like bile ducts.
Advantages of constructing small soft machines using various wetting traits of ferrofluids
Ferrofluid droplets in a high-wetting state can serve as arrays of artificial liquid cilia and move rhythmically like microbial cilia under the influence of an external magnetic field. This makes it possible to control the transport of biological fluids, like pumping blood. In a total wetting state, the droplets can form artificial liquid skins and adhere to inanimate surfaces, giving them the ability to control these objects.
The research team will concentrate on controlling substrate-wetting to switch between adsorption and detachment of ferrofluid “skin.” The use of stimulus-responsive fluids in soft machines enhances functionality and adaptability and opens new opportunities for the creation of miniature smart soft robots.
The research is funded by the Hong Kong Research Grants Council (RGC), the ITF project backed by the HKSAR Innovation and Technology Commission (ITC), the Croucher Foundation Grant, Chow Yuk Ho Technology Centre for Innovative Medicine, and the CUHK T Stone Robotics Institute.
The authors express gratitude to the Multi-Scale Medical Robotics Centre at the Hong Kong Science Park and the SIAT-CUHK Joint Laboratory of Robotics and Intelligent Systems for their support.
The global nanotechnology market was worth US$ 1.76 billion in 2020 and is expected to grow to US$ 33.63 billion by 2030, with a CAGR of 36.4% from 2021 to 2030. Nanoscience and nanotechnology deal with the study of nanoparticles and devices used across various scientific fields such as chemistry, biomedicine, mechanics, and materials science. The nanotechnology market covers the manufacture and use of physical, chemical, and biological systems and devices, ranging in scale from individual atoms or molecules to 100 nanometers.