To become a “Digital Nation and Smart Island” – this is Taiwan’s vision for national development. The Smart Living Technology Research Center (SLTRC), led by Dr. Pao-Ann Hsiung (Professor of National Chung Cheng University’s Computer Science and Information Engineering Department) is dedicated to researching technology applications for smart living. They have also extended their international research contacts to include India, a major country for IT. The SLTRC shares laboratories with local universities in India, and is helping to make links between the Taiwanese and Indian industrial chains, to develop innovation and entrepreneurship.
Dr. Hsiung, who grew up in India, is superbly familiar with the technological development, the academic research environment, and the customs and cultures of India. He has also been awarded as an honorary professor of India’s Amity University. In this interview with the Ministry of Science and Technology Center for Global Affairs and Science Engagement (MOST GASE), he shared highlight technologies from the research team, as well as his collaborations with Indian universities.
Fighting the Pandemic in a Smart Way: Taiwan Can Help
The SLTRC was established in 2015, and focuses on AIoT and blockchain technologies. The Research Center has conducted a great deal of adept technology research, including intelligent facial recognition, wireless sensor network data reconstruction (especially landslide data), indoor navigation systems, smart blockchain platforms, and a variety of imaging and data deep learning technologies.
In 2020, following the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the research team developed a Smart Anti-Pandemic System (SAPS) to energetically assist sister school SRM Institute of Science and Technology, in India, as they battle against the pandemic. Dr. Hsiung pointed out that the pandemic has been extremely severe in India. SAPS is based on the SLTRC’s smart facial recognition technology, while integrating the latest smart AI technology developed by faculty and students in India. All the technology in SAPS was implemented on the local SRM campus when it was needed most. There, it can automatically measure body temperature, recognize faces, identify masks, and analyze contacts. This creates rapid, accurate understanding of interpersonal contact histories, which means effective tracking and monitoring of security on campus.
In 2018, with the foundation provided by the SLTRC’s research capacity, Chung Cheng University and Indian Institute of Technology Ropar co-founded the Taiwan-India Joint Research Center on Artificial Intelligence. This was the first overseas research center established in Northern India with MOST subsidies. In recent years, the Joint Research Center has continued to successfully act as a bridge for Taiwanese-Indian industry-academia-research collaboration. Both sides have already begun collaboration in irrigation, aerospace technology, and other domains.
From “Smart City” to “Smart Nation”
From 2018 to 2020, Dr. Hsiung also served as Director of the Chiayi City Intelligence Technologies Department. There, he used his expertise in smart technologies, combined with his experience in public administration, to help the SLTRC’s work find real-life applications in more domains.
Taiwan has officially become an aged society, and falls are a major health issue for seniors. Dr. Hsiung noted that his research team has worked with both Chia-Yi Christian Hospital and Changhua’s Show Chwan Memorial Hospital to develop a Human Skeletal Sensing System. This system allows real-time imaging analysis to be performed for multiple people at a time, using cloud servers to alert family members and caregivers about fall incidents instantly via a cellphone app. This allows very effectively keeping up to date on elders’ fall data, and making maximum use of time available for emergency response. In the future, the team will upgrade and optimize the system to predict falls.
In addition, the SLTRC has also collaborated with the Chiayi City Police Bureau. They combined artificial intelligence and vehicle-recognition imaging technologies to allow rapid identification of people and vehicles, which enhanced public security and traffic safety.
In recent years, the “smart country” has come to the fore in how countries formulate their national policy. Japan’s Society 5.0, Singapore’s Smart Nation, the EU’s Invest EU and Horizon Europe, and other major policies show that digital transformation has already become a critical focus in many countries. Dr. Hsiung is confident that Taiwan’s technology infrastructure absolutely has the potential to develop Smart Cities and to make people’s lives easier. However, while we try to satisfy so many of humanity’s needs in the future, we will also need to consider how to lower resource wastage in order to make sustainable development a reality. Only then can Taiwan become a truly Smart Island!