PolyU Reaps the Harvest of Innovations in Geneva's Invention Expo

(PRWEB) May 20, 2011

The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) has set a record of reaping 10 prizes at the 39th International Exhibition of Inventions of Geneva, with an array of innovations which range from myopia-retarding contact lenses to DNA Bio-sensor and solar energy device.

This year PolyU researchers have won one Grand Prize, two Special Prizes, three Gold Medals and four Silver Medals in this international event. They received the coveted prizes today (16 May) from Mrs Rita Hammerli-Weschke Consul General of the Switzerland in Hong Kong, who was accompanied by Mr Nicholas W. Yang, Executive Vice President of the University.

The winning entries presented by PolyU and their respective inventors are listed and briefly described as follows:

(1) Grand Prize and Gold Medal with Jury’s Commendation:

A Novel Optical Method for Retarding Myopia Progression

Inventors: Professor TO Chi-ho and Professor Carly LAM, School of Optometry

Myopia or short-sightedness is a major cause of ocular morbidity for school children and especially for ethnic Chinese, but there is so far no clinically acceptable method to control the prevalence and progression of myopia. In view of this problem, optometry researchers of PolyU have been looking for an alternative method to control the progression of myopia.

The invention of “DISC” lens by a research team led by Professor To Chi-ho and Professor Carly Lam is undoubtedly a good news to the myopic population. The new lens works on the natural homeostatic mechanism of the eye, also known as “emmetropization”, by which the size of the eyes is regulated by optical inputs from the environment. The lens is a multizone bifocal soft contact lens which simultaneously provides clear vision and constant myopic defocus at all viewing distances. The results of recent clinical control trial, the first of its kind in the world, has shown the DISC lens effectively slowed down myopia progression by about 50% for local school children aged from 8 to 13 years old.

Since the DISC lens takes advantage of the natural homeostasis of the eye, wearers can avoid adverse effects from drug or surgery. Moreover, the functional element, optical defocus, can be incorporated into wide-accepted forms of contact lens to provide clear and comfortable vision while myopia is being controlled. It opens up new opportunity for treating other refractive error such as hyperopia using suitable defocus. This invention is highly relevant to many Asian countries including Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan and the Chinese mainland, with myopia prevalence as high as other parts of the world.

(2) Special Prize and Gold Medal with Jury’s Commendation: An Innovative Secured Retinal Imaging System for Computer Aided Non-intrusive Diabetic Care

Inventor: Professor Jane YOU, Department of Computing

With the increasing population of diabetic patients worldwide, it is crucial to detect various diabetic complications timely, efficiently and conveniently for large-scale screening at low cost. However, the conventional blood glucose testing is intrusive in nature, and it does not provide the progress status of diabetic chronic complications such as diabetic retinopathy (DR) for non-intrusive diabetic care.

The new device for detecting diabetic is a basically optical design equipped with an effective retinal image analysis software and a powerful camera for taking snapshots of the retina image. By developing new approaches to hierarchical retinal image analysis and lossless data embedding associated with a high performance fundus camera, PolyU researchers have invented this computer aided detection (CAD) system to achieve non-intrusive DR screening and monitoring with privacy protection. The comprehensive performance assessment of our prototype demonstrates its feasibility for effective diabetic care with wide applications and excellent potentials. The new algorithms for lossless data embedding will have significant contribution to information technology ranging from multimedia to information security.

(3) Gold Medal: Portable Real-time DNA Biosensor

Inventors: Professor Samuel LO Chun-lap, Department of Applied Biology and Chemical Technology; Dr Derek OR Siu-wing, Department of Electrical Engineering

The matching of DNA is a complicated process and it involves the use of bulky equipment. For biological weaponry and health surveillance purposes, there is a strong need to match DNA and identify pathogens in the field and sometimes in extreme environment rapidly and accurately. The most accurate microbial identification relies on polymerase chain-reaction (PCR)/DNA-based identification methods. While most PCR/DNA identification equipment claimed to be of small sizes, most of them only refer to the PCR chamber. The bulky fluorescent illuminator and detection device are mostly excluded from their calculation. Further, these classical equipments require alternate current mains supply and wet laboratory facilities support but give no real-time readings. Hence, these classical equipments are not portable by nature and unsuitable to be used in the field.

In stark contrast, PolyU’s invention is a hand-held, battery-operated and self-contained sensing device built upon a novel DNA-based bio-chemo-physical conversion method for real-time, rapid, in-situ detections of the presence of a microorganism of interest. The sensing device can be used in the field without the support of a.c. mains supply and laboratory facilities, making it more convenient and versatile for field use.

(4) Silver Medal: Ecodesign and Green Manufacturing Model for Electrical and Electronic Products under EuP Directive

Inventor: Dr Winco YUNG Kam-chuen,

Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering (ISE)

With the support of the Government’s Innovation and Technology Fund and eight industrial sponsors, ISE and PolyU’s School of Design have launched the EcoDesign and Manufacturing Model for Electronic Products and Electrical Appliances. This is a major initiative to help industries meet with the Energy-using Products (EuP) Directive of the European Commission which calls for reducing the energy consumption and other negative environmental impacts that occur during the product’s life cycle.

This advanced model focuses on selecting materials with high recyclability, eliminating or avoiding hazardous material, choosing green production processes, maximizing energy and water efficiencies, and minimizing waste. By optimizing processes and resources, manufacturers will improve their cost effectiveness through minimizing the consumption of materials and energy; and by removing wastes and contaminants in production. The model is intended to be read and used by different professionals (e.g. General Managers, Engineers and Designers) involved in the product development process. It enables them to visualize their role and position within the whole product life cycle and how they can influence it. Through this well-planned EcoDesign process, electronic products and electrical appliances manufacturers and especially Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SMEs) can comply with environmental regulations and achieve better potential long-term economic success with win-win strategies.

This project has brought together inter-disciplinary researchers of PolyU. Led by Dr Winco Yung, the key members include Professor Lorraine Justice and Professor Yanta Lam from the School of Design, and Professor Yue Tai-man and Ir Albert C.K. Choi of ISE.

(5) Silver Medal: Novel Activated Sludge Eco-Bricks Manufacturing Technology

Inventor: Professor CHUA Hong, Department of Civil and Structural Engineering

By making bricks out of sludge, this new technology presents a novel way to produce environmentally-friendly construction materials and eliminate secondary pollution. With the advanced treatment process (include sludge quality analysis and poison degradation, etc), daily activated sludge from waste water plant can be reused as raw materials for environmentally-friendly bricks.

The conventional treatment of excessive sludge requires high capital and operation cost, and it also produces secondary pollution during landfill or incineration. This advanced manufacturing technology of bricks not only reduces the municipal waste, but also provides a cost- and energy-efficient method to producing construction materials. The production process can reduce the amount of clay being used in conventional brick manufacturing as well as the coal consumption in brick manufacturing because of high sludge combustion. The heavy metal locked in the bricks also aids to kill the noxious bacteria.

(6) Silver Medal: Quick Test System for Formaldehyde in Textiles and Clothing

Inventor: Professor HU Jinlian, Institute of Textiles and Clothing

Formaldehyde is a commonly found air pollutant. It is also used by the textile industry in the form of formaldehyde-based resins as finishers to make fabrics crease-resistant. With the improvement of living standard, formaldehyde released from textile products draws public’s concern in recent years. Standard test methods provide accurate and reliable formaldehyde content measurement of textile products. However, these methods need special reagents, equipments and user training, which are generally not available to public. With this in mind, PolyU researches conceived the idea of a handheld formaldehyde tester.

This handled tester developed by Professor Hu Jinlian is portable, reliable and user-friendly. It provides a convenient and quick measurement of formaldehyde content in textile products, without any consumable item and special training. The tester’s result has high correlation with standard test result, and each test cycle can be completed in 10 minutes. It can be used as an environmental monitor for formaldehyde emission in textile or other products, such as household items, new furniture, painting, walls and car interior decorations.

(7) Special Prize and Silver Medal:

Solar Powered Air Conditioning System for Vehicles

Inventor: Professor Eric CHENG, Department of Electrical Engineering

Working in collaboration with industry partners, researchers of The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) have successfully developed a Solar-powered Air-conditioning System for vehicles and completed a series of testing on the road. The innovative system is developed by Professor Eric Cheng together with Green Power Industrial Ltd. With the support of Swire Coca-Cola Hong Kong, the system has been installed on the top of a truck for carrying beverages and proved to work on the road.

The system derives power from solar photovoltaic cell for storage in a battery to support power to all electronics onboard and electric air-conditioning unit. Maximum power point technique is developed to track maximum power from the solar panel and a special solar charging technique is used. The electric air-conditioning is driven by energy saving variable speed drive to provide excellent performance. Dual power mode of control is used for power conditioning in a safe manner. The system is readily applied to any vehicles to provide air-conditioning with the engine off during idling.

Under the patronage of the Swiss Federal Government, of the State, the City of Geneva and of the World Intellectual Property Organization, the 39th International Exhibition of Inventions of Geneva was held from 6 to 10 April 2011. For more details about the International Exhibition, please refer to its official website at URL: http://www.inventions-geneva.ch

Press contact: Mr Andrew Young

Director of Partnership Development

Tel: (852) 3400 2800

Email: pdayoung(at)polyu(dot)edu(dot)hk


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About The Author

Ibrar Ayyub

Ibrar Ayyub is an experienced technical writer with a Master's degree in computer science from BZU Multan University. He has written for various industries, mainly home automation, and engineering. He has a clear and simple writing style and is skilled in using infographics and diagrams. He is a great researcher and is able to present information in a well-organized and logical manner.

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