| Danial Norjidi |
LOCAL merit winners of the Asia Pacific ICT Alliance (APICTA) Awards 2014 have their eyes set on the future, looking to expand on their winning products and make their mark on the commercial world.
The three merit winners were each presented grants of $25,000 from the Authority for Info-communications Technology Industry of Brunei Darussalam (AITI) for their APICTA success during a congratulatory event at Emperor’s Court on Wednesday.
They were presented the grants by the Minister of Communications, Pehin Orang Kaya Hamzah Pahlawan Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Abdullah bin Begawan Mudim Dato Paduka Haji Bakar, who was the event’s guest of honour.
One of the merit winners was TeleConsult Sdn Bhd for “SkyEye” – a drone-based product developed to provide the telecomm industry with unique high definition videography of telecom installations.
“Our product is software that controls the drones. Drones usually come with proprietary software on how to control them in a certain way. Usually, they are designed not to ram into structures,” said TeleConsult Sdn Bhd’s Director Hj Julian Johari Hj Abdul Ghafar. “For the telecoms industry, we are using drone technology with our SkyEye software to actually go close to these kinds of structures.
“This is because when you conduct checks and audits of telecom towers, we need to be as close as possible without actually ramming into them. These checks are to ensure the condition of the tower’s various aspects and equipment,” he continued. “Normally the traditional way is for trained riggers to go up and check them manually. This is predominantly dangerous unless you are trained and certified as riggers. However, with SkyEye we are able to take that question of safety out of the equation.”
A procedure that would usually take two to three hours and two to three people can now be done with simply one operator using a Drone with SkyEye software and completed within just 10-15 minutes, he said. “For the industry, that constitutes a lot of savings in terms of time and manpower. That’s how our SkyEye won the merit award in APICTA 2014.
“One of the core activities for TeleConsult is to carry out audits on telecom towers. For a long time, we’ve always tried to see how we can save time and prevent accidents from happening. This concept came about after years of brainstorming within the industry.
“For the last few years drones have been prevalent commercially, and we see now that this is the opportunity for us to take this off-the-shelf technology and use it for this particular application.”
In addition to the APICTA 2014 merit award, the company also managed to win in the communications category of BICTA last year, while also taking home the coveted ‘Patrons Award’.
“Part of winning BICTA entitles us to apply for an even bigger grant which involves developing the product further, the intellectual property (IP),” said Hj Julian. “After APICTA, one of the first things the judges said is that we definitely need to get the IP sorted out. That’s one of the things we are looking to deal with right away.” He also shared that they have plans for expansion. “There are a few other features we have identified over the last few years and with this grant we are going to develop them. We have to keep up with drone technology, and the major players in drone technology usually come up with nifty features, so we are always looking to see how we can work with these features to further enhance our service.
“We have a lot of other ICT-related products in the pipeline.”
Another one of the winners, a company called Zestberry Technologies comprising students from Intitut Teknologi Brunei, was presented a grant for their project, “The Sulu Princess”, which is a storybook application that utilises augmented reality through an Android app and a physical storybook.
Speaking to the Bulletin, a member of Zestberry, Dk Nur Azimah binti Pg Abd Aziz explained that the idea was to use augmented reality to bring the storybook to life through animation. This is done by using a mobile device’s camera to scan codes found in the storybook’s pages, which then make animations appear on the device, along with a narration.
Zestberry was selected to take part in APICTA last year after having come second in the tertiary category of the Brunei ICT Awards 2014. Now that they have managed to come away as APICTA merit winners with the $25,000 grant, they have their eyes set on the future.
“We want to improve our product, specifically the book design and illustrations, and we also want to change the animation from 2D to 3D,” shared Dk Nur Azimah, who added that while the app is currently available on the Google Play Store, and they are also looking to make it available for download on iOS devices. “We are also planning to make more storybooks based on other folklore stories,” she said.
Two 16-year-old students, Jan Ee Ning and Seyrence Lee Jin Hui from Chung Hwa Middle School BSB, also won a merit award for their application, “The Heritage of Southeast Asia”.
The Heritage of Southeast Asia is a travel/tourism app that gives users information on various travel destinations in the region, such as accommodation options, currency used, what clothing to prepare, etc. It also features information on upcoming events in the various listed countries.
“We also linked it with Google Maps,” said Jan in an interview. “So, for example, if a tourist was in Brunei and wanted to go to a particular restaurant, they could find it in the app, click on a link and be shown its location on Google Maps.” As she explained, “The idea for the app was based on a problem/solution kind of thing.”
About five years ago, she and her fellow developer visited Gunung Mulu National Park in Sarawak, Malaysia. Along their journey there, the website for the place was down for maintenance, and she said that they were stuck. Following that experience, they decided that there should be an easier way to navigate through everything and it was from this problem that they decided to come up with a solution.
To make the app, they looked up and researched the various tourist hotspots in Southeast Asian countries and listed out essential information that travellers can access through the app on their mobile devices. On future plans, she said, “Right now, the app is available on Google Play Store, so what we want to do next is make it available on the Apple Appstore.
“Aside from that, we have decided to set up a community that stretches across Southeast Asia, because I’m sure that, for example, people in Thailand would know more about Thailand than I would. Also, what would differ us from other communities is that we would only be using information from certified scholars in the participating countries.”
She said that they are planning to call the community Southeast Asian Elite (SEALITE), and added that they are also planning to set up servers.