Sunday, January 29, 2017

Philippines to harness Ocean Power

Posted By: The Mail Man - Sunday, January 29, 2017

TechBlade reported last year that there was a Filipino marine engineer who was planning to develop and build a power generation plant that is driven by ocean waves. The Philippines as an archipelagic nation is strategically placed to utilize the power of the waves.

Local energy company H&WB Asia Pacific (Pte. Ltd.) Corp has partnered with Sacella SaS, a French company to build such a power generation plant.

Utilizing tidal in-stream conversion technology, the proponents plan to build the power plants in the San Bernardino Straight located between Matnog, Sorsogon and Capul and Dalupiri, Northern Samar. 

It will be the first such ocean powered power generation plant in Southeast Asia it was disclosed.

It hews closely to the Department of Energy’s policy of a balanced power mix which is strategic since there will be a diverse source of power to be used in the country.  This was according to PNOC-Renewables Corporation and that the project is fully endorsed by the government since it is clean and renewable energy. 

The beneficiary of such a power plant will be Capul which is dependent on old diesel generators that frequently breaks down and as such the municipality is subject to brownouts. This has adversely affected economic growth in the area since electricity is a primary requirement for modern economic activity of any area. This is also widely approved by the affected residents since it is environmentally friendly because it does not consume pollution causing fossil fuels.

The use of ocean wave power is a step in having a carbon neutral country and such innovation adds to cost-competitiveness with regards to power rates.

Sabella, te French firm brings with it its marine technology expertise and complements H&WB that develops systems that produce, process and generate power using various energy systems and processes. 

Filipino Diwata-1 Microstellite is NASA poster child

Posted By: The Mail Man - Sunday, January 29, 2017

TechBlade covered the preparations for the staging, launching and deployment of Diwata-1 from the start last year. Although a first in Philippine Space Program efforts, Diwata-1 managed to exceed expectations.

Diwata-1was supposed to be used in multiple ways such as agricultural mapping, disaster risk reduction and management, research, weather monitoring, land –use mapping and planning, the micro-satellite also became NASAs poster child for Small Spacecraft Technology. The National Auronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) Presidential Transition Binder for the transition team of President-Elect Trump noted Diwata-1.

This was announced at the The Department of Science and Technology-Philippine Council for Industry, Energy and Emerging Technology Research and Development’s (DOST-PCIEERD) Facebook page.

It came as a surprise according to PCIEERD Executive Director Carlos Primo David. Diwata-1 was recognized by NASA  as an example for small spacecraft technology, noting that Nasa recognized many advantages of small yet powerful satellites, which include ease of deployment and cost.

“Like in consumer electronics, advances in technology lead to miniaturization. In space technology for instance, the capabilities of small satellites today are comparable to bigger satellites 10 to 15 years ago,” David was quoted.

Developing and making microsatellites costs much lower than conventional full scale satellites.  “This allows smaller countries to be at par with everyone else,” David disclosed.

In the NAS binder, one of its key plans was to include 3 such small spacecrafts in the first quarter of 2017 “to demonstrate laser communications, formation flight and autonomous rendezvous and docking in orbit.”

Radio frequency communications systems’ capabilities to boost the amount of data to be transmitted by microsatellites will be tested and evaluated in the program. 

New capabilities for NASA with regards to science, space operations and exploration using small spacecraft will be demonstrated with regards to operational costs.

 “Small spacecraft are most often delivered to space using a rideshare approach, where the spacecraft uses launch vehicle capacity that would otherwise go unused by a primary payload,”  was indicated in  the transition binder.

DOST pushing artificial intelligence research

Posted By: The Mail Man - Sunday, January 29, 2017

From the Conference in Dartmouth College in 1956, Artificial Intelligence or AI has been marching together with the progress of Computer Science. The invention of the  transistor and eventually Very Large Scale Integration (VLSI) in the late 1960s and early 1970s led to geometric increases in computer power.

This enabled the sustained research and development into AI. It was forecasted that machines will eventually be able to do what human can do within a 20 year window. But the Lisp Machines failed in the late 1980’s and AI R&D came into a few years of hiatus. 

Expert Systems, the forerunner of modern AI was available at that period but it was only into the 1990s that Expert Systems were able to go mainstream in the corporate world. Also, AI had to wait for the other disciplines to be integrated into the Expert Systems of other industries.

Today, AI is used in the development of “self-driving” cars, climate control in buildings, efficient energy management, data mining, medical diagnostics and even communications such as language translation.

In all these years the Philippines has lagged in this particular field in technology but the exigencies of a fast developing world geared on technology must be addressed for the Philippines to be competitive.

The Department o Science and Technology (DOST) in its 2017 – 2022 development agenda aims to include extensive AI research in order for the country to catch up with the world. 

This will be incorporated in DOST’s Philippine Development Plan “Ambisyon Natin 2040” according to DOST Secretary Fortunato de la Peña.

It is the manufacturing sector that will be the primary objective of the technology research and development thrust of the DOST since mass production is a logical implementation bed for AI. 

This will enable more efficient operations in the manufacturing sector benefiting the workers and boosting the suppliers of raw materials for the finished products

“Now we would like to pursue new areas, not necessarily new in the global sense but as far as local research and development is concerned and that is in the field of artificial intelligence and space technology,” said De la Peña. 

The DOST is currently I discussions with R&D institutions about the AI program according to DOST-Philippine Council for Industry, Energy, and Emerging Technology Research and Development Deputy Executive Director Raul Sabularse, Also, there are already consultations with  with Filipino-American technology entrepreneur Diosdado Banatao with regards to the AI related endeavors of the DOST. 

“We are in the process of consulting experts and stakeholders to form a development program on artificial intelligence. This is something not totally new but it is a promising field for our researchers with applications in the industry,”  Sabularse said.

Currently, AI research and development are being pursued by the University of the Philippines, Mapua Institute of Technology, Ateneo de Manila University, De La Salle University and AMA Computer University together with a few more schools.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Little Robot teaches Children to do “Code”

Posted By: The Mail Man - Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Children are like blank slates. They are able to learn faster because there is nothing to “unlearn” yet. This goes for languages as well. It is noted that children can learn 2 languages at any given time, especially those from multicultural families. “Coding” is another form of language as important today as the traditional languages. Technology has grown by leaps and bounds at a breakneck speed and proficiency in the use of technological tools is part of growing up.

Coding is a necessary skill or a useful one to say the least. Using a remote control for the TV and the DVD player is coding. Setting the timer in a microwave oven is coding and downloading a game app is also coding.

The difference is the amount of instructions and its complexities. It used to be that one needs a terminal connected to a CPU with a compiler to do coding or programming. While it is still the recent conventional way to do coding, there are other ways to do it that precludes being able to read and write structurally and efficiently. The brain has its logic and an interface than typing instructions on a keyboard.

With this in mind, a Denmark based company has developed a robot that can teach children as young as 3 years old to do coding.

Introducing Kubo

Kubo is a robot not bigger than a soda can and has two wheels and can be used on a table or a desk. The language it uses is called “TagTile” and is composed of tiles. Children can do puzzles and thee tiles are like puzzles that can be pieced together to perform a command as indicated in a tile. For example a tile can mean forward, another forward again and another indicate left and then forward and then right and then another tile to say stop. Once Kubo rolls over them once, Kubo can perform it again and again without the tiles. It is now “programmed” to do the series of instructions.

Kubo uses RFID to scan each tile and that is how the instructions are inputted. Children can learn to lay down the tiles on whatever instructions they want the robot to perform. As they learn the use of the tiles, their instructions can then escalate to more complex commands that the robot will perform.

The beauty of this form of instruction is that no keyboards or screens are used and the children can get the desired output directly since the program execution is instantly performed by Kubo. This mode of teaching gives children ideas on loops, subroutines, functions and other program structures.

There is a planned expansion pack for Kubo that will also teach children mathematical concepts such as addition and subtraction together with teaching the children how to correctly spell words.

“Kids are surrounded by technology, but most are simply consuming video or text through a screen. We want to make them creators, not consumers,” said Tommy Otzen, CEO and cofounder of Kubo Robot, in a statement. “By 2034, 47 percent of jobs will be automated. Our children will be living and working alongside robots and technology. They need to learn from an early age how to interact with that technology, and coding gives them the skills to do so.”  

Saturday, January 21, 2017

JACK teaches kids to do code.

Posted By: The Mail Man - Saturday, January 21, 2017

The Junior Academy for Coding Knowledge, Inc. (JACK) is the first of its kind in the Philippines. In an age where technology particularly in Information Technology is at the forefront of economic, academic and even social development, coding literacy has become a must for those who are growing up in in this dynamic environment.

Extensive hands-on training is the key for JACK in molding the coding literacy skills of the youth. This is done in a child-friendly environment where lessons are fun challenges for the children in pursuit of I.T. knowledge and skills.

Games, apps, droids, robots and even iPads are the tools utilized so as to carefully comprehend and make code part of the language of the children. This makes them more proficient in interfacing with technology, creation and development of useful applications and overall awareness of the latest technology and innovations.

This is done in such a way that will enhance problem-solving skills and structured analytical thinking that also is needed in dealing with day to day living. 

It is true that there are already bootcamps in the country more so abroad, JACK uses the best practices they have observed and also developed techniques that is custom-made for Philippine conditions.

“We realized that the Philippines is lagging behind its Asean counterparts in terms of coding knowledge and awareness. We hope to bridge that gap by giving our children an avenue where they can become fluent in technology,” says Rose A. Saulog, one of the founders of JACK.

Saulog adds: “Coming from a family of techies, with a sister who is more of an academician, we have always been interested in technology education. When we heard of the continuous development of coding schools in the US, Singapore and Hong Kong, we decided to look into it and see how we may bring this kind of education in the Philippines.

“Most of the classes we saw did not fully bridge the gap between technology and education so when we started JACK, we wanted the children to have a hands-on experience by having the school in a real tech firm and by getting innovative and brand new tech teaching materials from the US.”

There are five different classes for the students to learn how to code as they develop apps using various tools.

The Scratch: Welcome to the World of Coding class teaches the fundamentals of coding. A programming platform developed by Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Scratch allows students to create interactive stories, animations and games, giving them a better appreciation of coding.

In A Taste of Game Salad, students can design, execute and publish a game on the App Store and Play Store.

Aside from creating interactive projects, animations and games, students can also learn how to build a website in the Create Track.

The Internet: The Exciting World of Web Development course equips students with web development skills, as they design, develop and publish their own website.

On the other hand, the Minecraft: Code and Mod course allows students to create their own Minecraft Game. Students learn how to build and design their game character and environment, and even animate elements through coding.

Play and Learn with STEM Track allows students to use coding to make machines come alive. In fun classes like Program, Practice and Play with BB8 Droid and Code to Fly with Drones, BB8-Droids and Parrot Drones are programmed to follow rules, avoid obstructions and execute maneuvers.

Tinker Track Courses are perfect for budding engineers.

The Light Up: Coding, Circuitry and Augmented Reality class teaches the core concepts of coding, circuitry and engineering, as students snap magnetic blocks to build circuits.

The Engineer: Coding and Robotics course is where students learn coding by programming microcontrollers, servomotors and smart sensors to make the lego bricks come to life.

For more information: Call 0977-8410482; visit

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Facebook goes into mentoring through world’s biggest startup campus

Posted By: The Mail Man - Wednesday, January 18, 2017

The world’s biggest startup campus is about to get support from one of the world’s most successful startup companies: Facebook has announced their involvement as Station F’s launch partner.

The announcement was made after the social media company’s COO Sheryl Sandberg flew over to Paris, reports TechCrunch.
French billionaire Xavier Niel said, “Facebook was the first that wanted to be part of this good idea.”

Neil is the man behind Station F which he finances with his own money, together with project lead Roxanne Varza. He also has various startup-related projects including Kima Ventures and a free coding school called 42.

“We’re thrilled to be a founding partner and start the Facebook Startup Garage here,” Sandberg said.

Facebook’s logo is already setup near the entrance and ready for the grand opening. Come April, Facebook will have 80 desks on a mezzanine near the entrance.

Once the campus is operational, Facebook will start to work with 10-15 startups every six months, providing them assistance as much as the company can. Engineers from the social media giant will also do weekly workshops to pass on what the company has learned to young startups.

Some of the first startups that the Mark Zuckerberg-led platform will be working with include Chekk, Karos, Mapstr, OneClub, and The Fabulous.

Facebook is just one of the many companies backing Station F, but having the foremost successful social media startup mentor younger startups can go a long way.

By: Alfred Bayle


Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Philippine Startups: Harnessing the Filipino Youth

Posted By: The Mail Man - Tuesday, January 17, 2017

The Philippines is chair of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN)  this year and one of its key thrusts is youth entrepreneurship and innovation. That puts it in a strategic position to address one of its most pressing economic problems.

In 2016, national unemployment figures showed good news. The unemployment rate dipped below 5% at 4.7% which is the lowest if not the lowest in recent recorded history for the country. That means from a high of 2.37 million it went down to 2.04 million. Thus 1.88 million new jobs were created as compared to the increase of the labor force by 1.54 million.

What is still alarming is that working age starts at 15 years old and 78% of the jobless still belongs to the young workers sector that ranges from 15 – 34 years old. Statistics disclosed that 34% went to college and 20.5% graduated from college. This makes it a “youth unemployment” issue. A significant number of our potentially most productive age segment is out of work. This negates the country’s so called demographic sweet spot wherein for 30 years, we will have the youngest and most number of potentially productive citizens as compared to most nations who face aging populations.

This is alarming since if these unemployed young workers will not find gainful employment and livelihood in the country, they will further enhance the talent diaspora being experienced by the country since the late 1960’s. That is almost 3 generations of brain drain and talent depletion for the country.

The economic policy makers and managers of the country must formulate policies and implement them to arrest the further exodus of talented and productive citizens. This coupled with the current anti-immigration trend being experienced by traditional developed countries eyed by OFWs.

But recent developments also augur well if only it be handled deftly and correctly by leaders of the government and the private sector. Technology has enabled many of the youth with proficiency in the startup sector. These are new enterprises fueled by ideas that are now within reach of fruition because of technology. These has created a window for innovation and creativity in new services and processes fueled by ideas and enabled by technology. The startup evolution has been started and the ecology is developing combining innovation with venture investors willing to not only invest but to promote such with fellow investors.

It is not only startups has the youth been focusing. Using new technology, traditional industries such as agriculture and transport have also benefitted from these new products and processes developed by the youth.

The role of government is to help provide for financing, institutional protection and even professional mentoring for the youth who have found the solutions to unemployment themselves. 

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Dark Matter and Vera Rubin, Dec. 25, 2016

Posted By: The Mail Man - Thursday, January 12, 2017

Our own Reina Reyes has something in common with the late Vera Rubin and that is Dark Matter.

We have as of now studied only 5% of all matter that exists. Yes, only 5% the rest is 75% made up of Dark Energy and 25% is made up of Dark Matter. 

Dark Matter. The 25% of all matter is all around us. It envelopes the galaxies and clusters of galaxies and we cannot perceive it in the usual way we look at matter.

What we learned in
elementary science subjects is that matter is composed of atoms and has protons and electrons, that is it has an electrical charge. But Dark Matter does not have it. In fact, Dark Matter does not interact with light. But it does interact gravitationally.

It was by the observations of Vera Rubin, particularly in the 1980s that Dark Matter was seriously considered. Her observations contributed to convincing evidence that there is Dark Matter. The overly rapid rotations of galaxies was evidence of the existence of Dark Matter. Although, she was not alone in her observations, her indirect evidence for the longest period broke barriers in recognizing the 25% of matter that seem to not be existing.

Such studies should have been included in the great discoveries of the 20th Century. But it is only recently that such an obscure field was recognized being that 25% of all matter is Dark Matter. 

Dr. Rubin observed that stuff far out in galaxies rotated at the same speed as stuff near the center. This proved as an indirect evidence that there was far more matter in the galaxy than anyone could see.

Dr. Rubin’s insight was revolutionary, and she received other awards in her career; in 1993, President Bill Clinton gave her the National Medal of Science.

Unfortunately, Dr. Rubin passed away Christmas Day of 2016. But the significance of her discoveries and studies should have been given the recognition they deserved. A Nobel Prize perhaps?

Let us then welcome 2017 with more appreciation to those, especially women scientists who work in so called obscure scientific fields but find answers to much bigger questions that many of us even fail to ask.

Monday, January 9, 2017

For “intelligent” robot, chess is just a hobby

Posted By: The Mail Man - Monday, January 09, 2017
A robot developed by Taiwan engineers moves chess pieces on a board against an opponent, ,at the 2017 Consumer Electronic Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Nevada on January 8, 2017. The robot developed by Taiwan’s Industrial Technology Research Institute, which spent the week playing games against opponents at the Consumer Electronics Show, was displaying what developers call an “intelligent vision system” which can see its environment and act with greater precision than its peers. AFP

A robot developed by engineers in Taiwan can pour coffee and move chess pieces on a board against an opponent, but he’s looking for a real job.

The robot developed by Taiwan’s Industrial Technology Research Institute, which spent the week playing games against opponents at the Consumer Electronics Show, was displaying what developers call an “intelligent vision system” which can see its environment and act with greater precision than its peers.

With this enhanced vision, the robot can perform variety of tasks for service and manufacturing, and can also learn on the job with artificial intelligence.

Playing chess is just a hobby showcasing the robot’s visual acuity — such as the ability to distinguish between different chessmen — and dexterity in gripping and moving objects.

The vision system can recognize objects and their location with greater precision than other robots, said ITRI division director Lewis Liu.

“Traditional robots use pre-defined points,” Liu said.

This robot “has more flexibility” to locate and manipulate an object, with a robotic version of “hand-eye coordination,” Liu said.

A robot using this technology could, for example, perform household tasks such as setting and clearing a table, or assisting seniors or disabled people with meal preparation.

In an industrial setting, it would have greater flexibility than other robots in adapting to new situations. Instead of being programmed for a single task in a defined space, it could recognize when a component is a different size or a different location.

The robot at CES showed that ability by pouring coffee for its chess opponents, regardless of where they placed their cup.

The ITRI robot is among several being shown at the Las Vegas technology show with enhanced artificial intelligence that enables new skills.

The institute is not commercializing the robot, but he is available for work in a service or industrial job through an investor or partner, according to Liu.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Blackberry returns this 2017

Posted By: Patti Salas - Thursday, January 05, 2017

It’s 2017 and I think you have to refine your BBM skills because Blackberry is coming back. Yes, you read that right.

A giant Chinese tech branch called TCL will be releasing the BlackBerry smartphone this year which will be called Mercury.

It will surely be different from the ones we used to own but guess what? It will still have the QWERTY keyboard we all miss from all these touchscreen devices we have now.

The new BlackBerry “Mercury” will concentrate on three things: security, productivity and reliability.

However, Blackberry Mercury’s date of release and price are still yet to be announced by the company.

With this unit’s new features, would you consider saying goodbye to your iPhone this 2017?

Transportify expands service areas to help PH businesses grow

Posted By: Karlo Simon - Thursday, January 05, 2017

Each business yearns for growth and expansion in their companies but there are millions to consider. Even Henry Sy says that “There is no such thing as overnight success or easy money”. There are cost implications in various business aspects including manpower, land, machines, and more. Basically, to grow, you need additional capital investment. If you have the additional money, the next question is, where is the best place to invest it? It could be in hr, production & marketing. Is it also best to put your money in vehicles for your deliveries?

The down payments and monthly amortization of vehicles are crazy low right now and many of us think that yes, just buy a car and hire your own driver, right? But not all entrepreneurs realize the headache and expenses of vehicle maintenance. We can run down all the possible expenses but perhaps, that will be another article. So the question is, will you still put your capital to your own delivery vans or would you prefer to just give that part to the delivery experts and place your money for more stocks?

Transportify can do the delivery for you, but many businesses asks, can they pick up and deliver outside Metro Manila? YES!

Transportify understands your needs and is expanding to more service areas outside of Metro Manila such as San Pedro, Laguna, home to many industrial hubs, and in Angono, the Art Capital of the Philippines. In addition, Bacoor, Cavite and Marilao, Bulacan are also added in the list. 

This move is seen to help address a common problem for businesses so they can focus more on their real product. With this, businesses can allocate their resources to other business aspects. Add more machines, raw materials and manpower to produce more products to sell. Increase profits through investing on your business strength.

With roughly 5 months’ worth of operations here in Manila, Transportify is working closely with clients and driver-partners to expand the coverage area and cater to the special delivery needs of more businesses.

Noel Abelardo, Transportify’s Demand Head and Co-country Manager said, “Transportify believes in providing quality and superb customer experience. This expansion of our service areas is an answer to the increasing demand from our business clients.  They regularly ask us to launch new service areas, and we are very much listening. We take the concerns of our customers seriously, and we are working hard to address those needs. ”

He explained that before they launch a service area, they ensure that they have enough well-trained drivers who could fulfill customers’ delivery needs in that location.

To know whether your location is within Transportify’s coverage area, click on or you may also email your queries and requests to

Download the Transportify app now on Apple Store for iOS devices and on Google Play Store for Android devices.  Book your immediate and scheduled delivery needs via the mobile app and experience worry-free delivery services.

Filipino Students Awarded by Wyeth

Posted By: The Mail Man - Thursday, January 05, 2017

The  Search for the Wyeth Nutrition Kid Innovators grand finals was held recently with students were given recognition for outstanding science projects. The awarding was held at the Crowne Plaza Manila Galleria in Ortigas Center.

Three top teams were given the awards. Philippine Science High School – Central Visayas Campus was represented by Malycka C. Rentuza and Hannah Nicole Gadiel. Their development of the Anti-Ripening Paper benefits the fruit industry wherein the paper retards the progress of accelerated fruit ripening thereby prolonging the shelf life of the fruits. This will be a boon farmers and those entrepreneurs who sell fruits. The paper is also much cheaper than commercial anti-ripening chemicals that are currently used.

The Baguio City High School team was represented by Jercicho Gomez Villarico with the Auto-Call Doorknob. The device aims to reduce the incidence of burglaries since the automated doorknob will alert the homeowner to any attempt at opening the door when it is locked. The invention also automatically takes a photo of the potential intruder thus, giving evidence to investigators.

St. Scholastica’s entry  was the Banana Stem Water Filtration and Distillation System. This was developed by Katrina Ysabel Sison, Adrianne A. Ong and Samantha V. Estrella. The filtration system is an alternative to the present filtration systems and is deemed ecologically friendly. It is a four-level filtration system that cleans water of microbials, impure substances and even unpleasant odors.

Wyeth Nutrition aims to inspire the youth in developing and innovating new products and processes. These in turn will give impetus to the youth in using scientific and technological ingenuity in addressing the needs that are present in everyday situations. 

The awardees were given Php100,000 as cash prize, a plaque of recognition. The schools will receive Php100,000 worth of technology and science showcases

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