Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Philippine Science High School: Smart Rooms and Infinity Rooms

Posted By: The Mail Man - Tuesday, April 25, 2017
The PSHS Samsung Smart Classroom

In 1964, the Philippine Science High School (PSHS) was established. It was under the Department of Science and Technology (DOST). The premier science high school in the country, it is considered among the top science high schools in ASEAN. Aside from its main campus in Diliman, Quezon City, it has 12 other regional campuses in the Philippines.

Each year level of PSHS-MC has 240 scholars for each Grade Level. PSHS offers education from Grade 7 to 12. 

The scholars of PSHS need cutting edge facilities in order to keep pursue its mandate of giving the best education in terms of science and technology in the country and in the Southeast Asian region. 

The PSHS–Main Campus has an Advanced Science and Technology Building where the Samsung Smart Classroom is located together with the FabLab (Infinity Room).

Samsung Smart Classroom

The Samsung Smart Classroom features Samsung Video Screens on all of its 4 walls. This enables the teacher and students to have visual and internet connectivity all throughout the sessions in the room. This makes for optimum class participation and class presentations as well as imparting the lessons by the teacher.

The Smart Classroom have modular tables and stools that can be configured for any lessons and activity. 

Samsung donated the Smart Classroom at a cost of Php8.0 million pesos. It was not only the hardware that was provided but the software for operations and training of the faculty that will use the Smartroom  

Infinity Room

PSHS Infinity Room (Fabrication Laboratory)

The Infinity Room is a fabrication laboratory where students can manufacture their prototypes for their projects. It has 3D Printers and other fabrication equipment. Thus, the students can apply their theoretical designs and create their prototypes. 

The Infinity Room is also open to external parties who wish to create their own prototypes and validate their designs. This is ideal for those who have tech startups so as to create their designs.   

The Infinity Room is a result of funding from the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and donors from the alumni association of the PSHS.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Winners of the DICT 2016 Philippine Startup Challenge

Posted By: The Mail Man - Saturday, April 22, 2017
Team Hushtag with AR J AY, Clark Reuvain Galope, Edison Ompad Montes, Archie Mordechai Netanyahu and Monchito B. Ibrahim at Pueblo de Panay.

The DICT Philippine Startup Challenge (PSC) winners were announced April 21, 2017 at Roxas City. The Philippine Startup Challenge aims to harness the potential of the Filipino youth in addressing pressing problems of the country by using digital technology solutions.

There were two tracks for the competition; 1) Software and 2) Internet of Things (IoT). Starting with 23 participating teams from colleges and universities around the country, the Finalists were whittled down to 10 for the Software trck and 3 for the IoT track.

Team HushTag from Mindanao State University – Iligan Institute of Technology won the top prize in the IoT track with their location monitoring device that allows pet owners to easily locate their pets through their smart phones.

TechBlade congratulates the winners of the PSC 2016 Edition.

Friday, April 21, 2017

DICT 2016 Philippine Startup Challenge Finalists Announced!

Posted By: The Mail Man - Friday, April 21, 2017

The Finalists in the 2016 edition of the Philippine Startup Challenge has been announced by the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) and the Philippine Software Industry Association (PSIA). 

The finalists were composed of college students competing in the software and Internet of Things (IoT)tracks of the Philippine Startup Challenge (PSC) which is a competition in digital startups. The competition challenges the Filipino youth to create digital based solutions as well as to establish socially relevant startups that will address the pressing problems of the country.  

Most of the teams were first timers in such competitions and as described by Kevin Facun of Bulacan State University, “. We are overwhelmed. We never thought that our simple idea will progress and with the help of the mentors, we are confident we could make this platform better than what we thought it would be.”

The DICT Undersecretary Monchito Ibrahim was buoyant with regards to the general output of the participants citing,  “We are very inspired and hopeful of our youth today. These millennials are putting their skills and energy to good use by creating innovation in different industries – transportation, health, education, agriculture. We are equally excited to see them pitch their ideas on the finals and the DICT will continue to support them with the hope that they continue with their startup even after the competition.”

There were 21 teams from the software track and 6 teams from the IoT track  that entered the semifinals. The 10 Finalists advanced from there. 

Part of the competition included coaching gleaned from experience by mentors that provided advice that ranged from business to technical aspects of startups. 

Hereunder are the 10 Finalists from the software track and 6 from the IoT track:

Software Track:

1. AgriSenso (Team Agri Senso, Mindanao State University – Iligan Institute of Technology) – An e-commerce platform that connects farmers to bulk buyers.

2. Balay (Team Umali, Saint Louis University) – A mobile and web application that facilitates making arrangements for housing accommodation.

3. Geodetic Pro (GeoTeam, Mindanao State University – Iligan Institute of Technology) – Computerized land survey service.

4. Isla-Bahay (Team Lumay, Siquijor State College) – an-app based homestay locator.

5. Milktrack (Team JuanPiece, Bulacan State University) – Your Safe, Uninterrupted, Resource of Everyday Breastmilk.

6. PharmaSearch (Team Radiant, Caraga State University) – A mobile application that navigates you to the right pharmacy.

7. RentBuddy (Team Hacksptler, University of Cebu) – a property management platform for landlords to connect with their tenants.

8. Sea2Go (A-Team, Ateneo De Davao University) – Fish market in your pocket.
9. Trase Mobile App (Team Trasean, Bulacan State University) – Connecting Trainings and Seminars Providers and Seekers.

10. TutoReal (Team Techplus, Mindanao State University – Iligan Institute of Technology) – a website that provides an avenue for parents and/or students to find their needed tutors in just a click away.

IoT Track:

1. AutoGation (Team AutoGation, University of Science and Technology of Southern Philippines) – An automated irrigation system.

2. Find, Inform, Response and Enhance (F.I.R.E) (Team PRO, Gordon College) – An IoT application which quickly identifies a change in temperature, gas leaks and presence of smoke. It will also automatically notify the fire fighter once there is a fire-related disaster that is about to happen.

3. Hushtag (Team Hushtag, Mindanao State University – Iligan Institute of Technology) – A location monitoring device that allows pet owners to easily locate their pets through their smart phones.

The Finals phase of the competition will have these finalists make their pitches for their respective startup ideas before a panel of judges composed of the representatives of PSIA, Microsoft (Philippines), Huawei (Philippines), HP Enterprise, Launchgarage and Ideaspace Foundation.

The PSC National Finals which will be held on April 21, 20171 in Spring Valley Technology and Innovation Hub Roxas City, Capiz.

Techblade will feature the winners as soon as they are announced.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

New solar-powered device makes water out of desert air

Posted By: The Mail Man - Thursday, April 20, 2017
MIT Prototype

A team has created a solar-powered device that can produce drinking water out of air -- even in desert climates, according to the researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of California, Berkeley.

"I'm most excited about being able to realize a functioning device in these remote areas and to be able to provide clean water to all the people who need it," Evelyn Wang, associate mechanical engineering professor at MIT and co-author of the paper first published in the journal "Science," told CNNTech.

While similar methods like atmospheric water generators already exist, the new project works in drier climates and uses less energy.

The new device looks like a box. Inside the box is a layer of a custom metal-organic framework (also called a MOF), which is essentially a material that acts as a sponge to capture as much water as possible when the box is open. Water can be collected from the air and rain.

Once the water is captured, the box is closed manually and exposed to the sun. The sun heats up the material so it releases water from its surface in the vapor phase. The vapor is then converted to the liquid phase with a condenser -- which can cool the vapor even in hot climates -- to create clean drinking water.

It's capable of collecting 2.8 liters of water per kilogram of metal-organic framework that is used. It can do this in areas where the humidity level is as low as 20%, compared to existing devices that work in 50% humidity.

MOFs are one-, two- or three-dimensional compounds invented about 20 years ago by Berkeley professor Omar Yaghi, one of the researchers behind the new device. They are an extremely porous material and water molecules can easily attach to the framework. The MOF used in the new device is called MOF-801, which was first reported a few years ago.

Right now, the new system is in the "proof of concept" phase to show it can work, Wang said. The key, she added, will be scaling up the prototype. The researchers have developed the materials in a lab environment and now will have to make them in larger quantities -- which Wang said will reduce costs. Companies like German manufacturer BASF have produced large-scale quantities of MOFs previously, she noted.

The prototype is currently the size of a small tissue box, but the final product is expected to be about as big as a carry-on suitcase so it can produce enough water for a family of four. The researchers do not have a cost estimate yet, but they plan to work with not-for-profits and local governments in the developing world to distribute the device.

It's designed for places that are extremely dry, but that still have a lot of sun, such as North Africa and India. "We can deploy [the] devices in those types of regions, where all they need is this device and sun," Wang said.

Two-thirds of the world's population is experiencing water shortages, according to the researchers.

Source: http://money.cnn.com/2017/04/19/technology/future/solar-powered-device-drinking-water/index.html

Monday, April 17, 2017

Science High Schools in the Philippines

Posted By: The Mail Man - Monday, April 17, 2017
Manila Science High School. The first science high school in the Philippines.

Science and technology has always been the bedrock of our modern civilization. But such were not so during the Middle Ages. The knowledge and culture derived by the Romans from the Hellenistic civilizations before it was lost because of the barbarian invasions that led to its downfall. 

There was a dearth in science and technology for almost 500 years. What spurred the resurgence of science and technology was the Black Death. It defied all known strictures with regards to the epidemic. It halved the population of England and most of Europe. The Black Plague killed nobility, the priests and the peasants all alike. This led the people to question the existing order of knowledge and even faith.

That was when whenever a city in western Europe would do something that pleases their king, the offer would be to build a cathedral or a university. Many cities opted for the university. Thus the fount of knowledge and learning was renewed.

In the Philippine setting, the coming of the Spaniards brought with it the establishment of schools. Although these schools and universities gave education to Filipinos for 300 years, the dynamics of learning was slanted towards more classical lines that rewarded those who were not curious enough so as to stifle scientific and technological endeavors.

The independence of the Philippines after a devastating war would need science and technology for its reconstruction, development and eventual progress. The first wave were those who were educated abroad and then the need for more science and technology was seen as the solution to solving the many problems and challenges of  developing country. From agriculture, to engineering to medicine and further specialized disciplines were critically needed.

The fact that a pool of potential talents existed and will continue to do so saw the need to establish more specialized schools at the secondary level to harness the science and technology prowess of the Filipino youth.

The Manila Science High School (MaSci) was established in 1963. It was the first science high school in the country. It was patterned after the Bronx Science High School of New York. 1963 was when the first batch that entered the pilot science high school graduated. It started in 1959 with 36 students.

In 1964, the Philippine Science High School (PSHS) was established. It was under the Department of Science and Technology (DOST). The premier science high school in the country, it is considered among the top science high schools in ASEAN. Aside from its main campus in Diliman, Quezon City, it has 12 other regional campuses in the Philippines.

Aside from the PSHS and the MaSci, other science high schools were established to further spread the education of those inclined in the sciences. The Department of Education (DepEd) through the Local Government Units (LGUs) fund and administer these science high schools. These are categorized accordingly:

1. Regional
2. Provincial
3. City

These science high schools number 54 in all.

Techblade is an advocate of the use of science and technology for national development and progress. Thus, Techblade will continue to support the activities and endeavors of these science high schools by publishing the relevant stories that each one of them undertakes.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

UP Students: Drone Technology for the Filipino

Posted By: The Mail Man - Sunday, April 09, 2017

Drones have been used since World War II by the Germans and then used again by the US in the Vietnam War. Although these early drones were for military use and a decade ago, drones were mostly in the military sphere, technology has enabled civilians to use it for their own non-military purposes.

These include surveying, aerial photographs for real estate development, disaster risk reduction and management, weather forecasting and even crop monitoring. 

Students of the University of the Philippines (UP) intend to use drone technology in helping to protect the environment. The aim of the students from the state university is to use an application that will enable government agencies to audit mining firms more efficiently faster and top do it even when access to the area is difficult.

 “Monitoring and auditing mining firms using traditional tools is an expensive procedure done over weeks and months.  With the use of drones, we can perform the process in mere days,” Luis Sia disclosed. Sia  has a background in  computer science background.  The technology can help make sure that mining firms follow regulations, Sia said. 

Sia founded Altitude X, a startup that provides cost effective solutions for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) or drones.

Aerial photography for mapping, videography and solutions ranging from property, construction, crop monitoring, disaster risk reduction and management, videography and mining monitoring are services offered by the solution developed for drones. AltitudeX was founded in 2015.

“With our technology, [the] government can instantly get data from mining companies that will otherwise be hard to collect,” Sia said.

Drones with the solution are flown over the specified area that geotagged by licensed drone pilots and data from the drone are then cross-referenced from ground control points. 

This will enable surveyors, geologists and even farmers to have real time information about the physical environs of interest. These information includes levels of vegetation and water that will benefit farmers.

A 2015 study from UK-based Juniper Research estimates that 16 million consumer drones a year will be sold worldwide by 2020.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Bring PH Scientists Back Home: Senate Bill 1324

Posted By: The Mail Man - Thursday, April 06, 2017

The Filipino “Brain Drain” started in the late 1960s. This was when the United States relaxed its policies with regards to hiring nurses from the Philippines and this started the eventual OFW phenomenon that prevails until today.

It was not only the skilled and semi-skilled workers that went abroad. A big proportion of the high-skilled workers also sought foreign shores to be their homesteads. This was because of the failure of the country to industrialize and that made no career paths to those who pursued higher education abroad. This meant very little Research and Development where such skills were needed.

Thus, a significant portion of the Filipino scientific community based themselves abroad. A talent resource that the country need badly in order for it not only to be economically competitive but also to propel it among the leading countries in the 21st Century.

There have been programs before such as the “Balik Scientist” program but these programs were not enough to entice the bulk of the Filipino scientists based abroad to permanently go back to the country so their immense talents can be harnessed for national development and progress.

Senate Bill 1324 filed by Senator Grace Poe seeks to reverse the brain drain and instead have a “brain gain” by the returning Filipino scientists.

“This bill envisions a future in which Filipino scientists contribute to nation-building and inclusive growth through the acceleration of research and development in the country,” Senator Poe said.

The country needs the Filipinos abroad who are experts and professionals in the field of science and technology to “transfer” their know how and experience so as to further enhance the country’s potential for growth and the much needed scientific breakthroughs that will benefit the country and the world.

The Bill enables scientists that are working on short term projects or programs (at least 30 days) to receive benefits that include travel fare, exemptions on tax with regards to their daily allowances, relocation allowances, and donation of instruments and materials required in scientific activities.

For medium term programs or projects (12 months), the same benefits and privileges apply plus exemptions on travel tax that includes their immediate families, and payment of multiple entry fees and also the non-requirement of immigration clearance certificates. 

For long term programs and projects (24 – 36 months) the benefits include housing provision, reimbursement for the shipment of personal effects and professional instruments including one motor vehicle, exemption from securing an alien employment permit, budget to put up a laboratory. Of course the standard benefits and privileges  to short and medium term programs and projects also apply

The Bill seeks to make it attractive for Filipino scientists to return and conduct their work in the country.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Forgot to leave instructions? Try unified messaging

Posted By: The Mail Man - Monday, April 03, 2017

A tech startup in Singapore is leading the global race to develop a way for people to talk to machines, or at least relay orders to their smart home appliances via their smartphones.

Through the UnificationEngine messaging platform, startup Unified Inbox would enable smartphone users to send a verbal instruction either via Facebook Messenger, Skype or Viber to their coffeemaker at home to make them an espresso or cappuccino; or for all the lights to be turned up, or for a cleaning robot to tidy up their smart home.

“Basically, with the integration into those messaging channels, we allow people to talk to their smart devices at home,” said serial tech entrepreneur and inventor Toby Ruckert. 

Ruckert said that they had used the natural language developed by IBM for their Watson cognitive computing technology to enable the UnificationEngine messaging that fuses the Internet-of-Things (IoT) with Artificial Intelligence (AI).

“(We) used natural language from IBM Watson to process the user connotations,” Ruckert said, noting IBM Watson has a natural language processor.

Fortunately for Unified Inbox, IBM has announced that it was collaborating further with the startup to provide businesses with the world’s first intelligent IoT messaging platform using IBM Watson.

Unified Inbox will also be provided by IBM with Bluemix Cloud infrastructure, application program interface (API) and platform support.

The UnificationEngine is regarded as the only messaging platform to date that is compatible with over 20 international messaging platforms and protocols including legacy channels of email and SMS; social media channels such as Twitter, Weibo, and Facebook; and messaging apps and chatbots from Line, WhatsApp, Viber, Skype and others. 

IBM said that Watson powers the natural language and conversational intelligence of UnificationEngine, which makes it possible for users to communicate with their appliances.
Beyond consumer appliances, the UnificationEngine can also be used in smart enterprise cases such as messaging commuters waiting for a bus. 

In a smart city scenario, it can be used to message city officials on crowd movements and formations.

“Bringing together IoT with AI and unified messaging, we have created the world’s first UnificationEngine. UnificationEngine is a device- and platform-agnostic middleware that enables products and software to simply communicate with people and things,” Ruckert said.

He said since the engine enables communication seamlessly, need for an app will be significantly eliminated and thus help companies succeed in the rapidly expanding markets of IoT and AI.

Source: http://www.philstar.com/science-and-environment/2017/03/30/1685839/forgot-leave-instructions-try-unified-messaging

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