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Thailand’s Nectec Testing Terahertz Tech

Nectec Research and Use of Terahertz Technology

The National Electronics and Computer Technology Center (Nectec) is gearing up to study to tremendously high-frequency terahertz for use in non-destructive testing for various sectors such as farming, food and security.

Over the next two years, Nectec will conduct deep research and make use of terahertz technology, a new frontier that can have various applications, the Director of Nectec stated.

Terahertz is a unit of frequency defined as 1 trillion cycles per second. It does not harm any biological species, which is not the case with X-rays. In addition, terahertz waves have no ionising radiation.

It is non-invasive compared with X-ray waves and is safe for humans, plants and animals.

The technology can be used for security screening, inspections, medical applications, pharmaceuticals and communication.

In another development, Nectec plans to further develop technologies that are geared towards the bio-circular-green (BCG) economy, with 300 researchers at the agency dedicated to the task.

Key strategic sectors the agency is focusing on are agriculture, healthcare and medical services, energy and tourism.

In terms of agriculture, the agency will come up with technologies that can accommodate farm food inspection and precision farming.

Nectec has been collaborating with the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (Egat) to develop dam monitoring systems as part of preventive measures.

The systems are used at 14 dam locations, supervised by Egat countrywide.

Other countries will be contacted for similar collaboration.

The measurement and detection systems developed by Nectec can be beneficial to the industrial sector, he said.

One example is its intelligent industrial platform that can gauge how much energy manufacturers use at their facilities.

Nectec is also developing automated health check kiosks, which will be available at 100 branches of the Bank for Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives (BAAC) in 2020.

It was noted that automated health check kiosks are part of a collaboration with the National Health Security Office and the BAAC, as well as the Assistive Technology and Medical Devices Research Centre.

Nectec is also preparing to use sensor equipment systems and artificial intelligence to monitor livestock and the surrounding environment at farms.

According to another report, Nectec launched a website that allows programme developers, start-ups and businesses to access an artificial intelligence (AI) research database and services to develop products linked with the technology in September 2019.

The website is part of Nectec’s efforts to push Thailand to become an AI product creator rather than merely a user. AI development could also serve as one of the country’s new S-curve industries, a government priority over the next three years.

Domestic development of technology would mean data can potentially be kept in the country. AI is an important technology that could be the future foundation for economic and social development.

By 2030, the AI-driven economy in Asia-Pacific excluding China could reach US$9 trillion, while in China alone value could hit $7 trillion, he said.

Thailand needs an AI platform that covers AI research and tools, specialists, content, software developers and cloud service providers. Medical, agriculture and tourism sectors are the key areas for the country’s AI development.

Nectec’s website provides services pertaining to AI technology, such as language, vision and conversation perspectives.

The AI service platform also serves as a database for leading AI research on an open application programming interface.

The platform’s services include the JibJib chatbot that can be used by developers for customer service, featuring object recognition that can be used to identify food and tourist attractions for the tourism sector.

It also has facial recognition that can help monitor drivers in the logistics industry.

As the platform offers free AI services, developers can save costs in their operations.

Nectec has 60 AI specialists from a total of 200 in Thailand and aims to develop over 500 AI experts over the next three years.

Efforts will be made to reskill and upskill existing developers through cooperation with universities and AI associations.

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