By Nanotechnology Now – February 22nd, 2017
“EmTech Asia is always a great event. We meet amazing men and women from around the world and we talk about technology that is going to change the future. There is work in bio-medical areas, in artificial intelligence, computer vision, virtual reality. It also gives many people a chance to get together and talk about new things they might be able to collaborate on, might be able to discover and, most importantly, how they can contribute to positive things for all of humanity. And we mean that sincerely, that’s why EmTech Asia is so important and that’s why Singapore is proud to host it.” said Steve Leonard (pictured above), Founding CEO of SGInnovate and Disruptive Innovation Partner of EmTech Asia.
One of the key themes was space exploration, featuring speakers from NASA and MIT such as Dava Newman, Apollo Program Professor Chair, MIT and Former Deputy Director of NASA; and David Oh, Project Systems Engineer and Former Lead Flight Director, Curiosity Mars Rover, NASA Jet Propulsion Lab. Both speakers were also engaged in a conversational panel hosted by the ArtScience Museum (ASM) in collaboration with EmTech Asia. The panel was held in conjunction with the NASA exhibition at the ASM, and was attended by over 130 students, teachers and media representatives.
The MIT Hacking Medicine Robotics Singapore 2017, was held the weekend leading up to EmTech Asia 2017 where the winners took to the stage to discuss their hackathon experiences and the potential for robotics to provide long-term solutions in elderly care and the overarching healthcare industry in Singapore. Held from 10 to 12 February at SGInnovate, the hackathon aimed to address unmet needs in elderly care and medicine and how robotics can play a role in aiding an ageing society. The winning team, Botler, created a patient-friendly autonomous transport for social robotics in eldercare.
This year’s conference featured a session on materials science with Jackie Ying, Executive Director, Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology, A*STAR. Her presentation, Nanostructured Materials for Energy and Biomedical Applications, described the synthesis of metallic, metal oxide, semiconducting and organic nanoparticles and nanocomposites of controlled size, morphology and architecture while discussing their unique properties. The cybersecurity session was led by Walter O’Brien, CEO, Scorpion Computer Services and Executive Producer of hit TV series Scorpion, who spoke about how countries can better protect themselves against cyber security threats.
According to Ron Cellini, Analog Garage/Emerging Business Group at Analog Devices and Cybersecurity Partner of the event, “The main take away from EmTech Asia is not just the ideas presented but the enthusiasm behind them. It is great to see the speakers go up the stage and feel the passion for what they are doing. What’s different at EmTech Asia compared to other conferences is the quality. The quality of the presentations, the quality of the folks you meet. You are not going to come here just to hear presentations that you’ve heard before. You’re going to hear things that are new and that challenge you. The pace, the interactivity with some of the talks, the ability of questioning that continually. This conference really encourages you to participate. I definitely met the right people here. I’ve got a whole stack of things I need to do when I leave this conference and for me that’s the best metric for when I go to conferences.”
EmTech Asia 2017 also featured a session on a Brave New (Bio-Engineered) World, which featured Le Cong, Postdoctoral Fellow, Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, who introduced advances on genome editing tools using CRISPR system, and highlighted how genomics analysis could be integrated to transform our ability to understand and treat complex diseases such as cancer. Other sessions include The Story and The Prototype, by Mike North, Host of Prototype This!, on the Discovery Channel. Mike shared his rapid prototyping philosophy of designing story and prototype, testing them as fast as possible, seeing where they work and fail, and then iterating to deliver well-branded relevant products. A light-hearted demo was presented by Adrian David Cheok, Director, Imagineering Institute & Chair Professor of Pervasive Computing, City University of London during his Everysense Everywhere Human Communication presentation, where he demonstrated the Kissenger, Thermal and Electric taste applications with the help of conference delegates.
10 innovators under the age of 35 took to the stage to present their elevator pitch at the conference, highlighting their work and research. EmTech Asia celebrated these 10 young innovators under the age of 35, recognised on the 2017 regional ‘Innovators under 35’ list by MIT Technology Review. Their inventions and research were found to be most ground breaking and exciting from more than 100 nominations from Southeast Asia, Taiwan, Australia and New Zealand.
For one of the Innovators Under 35, Dhesi Raja, Chief Scientist and Cofounder of Artificial Intelligence in Medical Epidemiology (AIME), the event turned into an opportunity to raise capital, “Emtech Asia (and Singapore) is definitely the next hub after Silicon Valley that you want to be part of, where great minds meet. Besides the mind blowing convergence of technology, engineering, medicine & entrepreneurship, a vast network of investors has also enabled us to verbally secure a deal worth S$ 200,000, just after a 3 minute pitch. Yes! This is the next valley! Singapore valley!”
Key sponsors and partners of EmTech Asia this year included Host Partner, Infocomm Media Development Authority of Singapore (IMDA); Diamond Sponsor, Accenture; Disruptive Innovation Partner, SGInnovate; Innovation Partner, Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology (SMART); Cybersecurity Partner, Analog Devices (ADI); Silver Sponsors L’Oréal Research & Innovation and SAP Innovation Center. Partners, MIT Professional Education, MIT Hacking Medicine, Solve and Workforce Singapore. Media Partners included Asia-Pacific Biotech News, Asian Scientist, Biotechin.Asia, Geeks in Cambodia, Research SEA, Startup Bangkok, The Tech Portal India and TechStorm TV.
EmTech Asia will return in January 2018. Visit www.emtechasia.com to learn more.
By Surina Hariri, Nur Ain Mustaffa, Muhd Khir Hafifi Muid, Sharon Kalu Joseph Ufere, Kasun Karunanayaka, Adrian David Cheok.
The digital stimulation of smell is considered as a useful step in expanding the technology related to multisensory communication. Previous methods for activating the sensation of smell chemically, has several disadvantages such as lower controllability, expensive, needed to be refilled, and being complex. In this project, we are researching on developing a new interface that can induce weak electrical pulses on the smell receptors and generate smell sensations (The concept of this interface is shown in Figure 01). We believe by using a weak electrical signal can excite the smell receptors and generate smell perceptions.
The sensitivity and effectiveness of electrical stimulation towards human smell receptors will be tested using a current controller device. The device as in Figure 2 is equipped with adjustable parameters; adjustable frequency and current to produce electrical pulses required. The stimulation process including putting a pair of customized silver electrodes inside the part of the nose where it touches the olfactory nerves.
Generally, the smell sensitive receptors are located near the olfactory bulb and nasal concha (The anatomy of the nasal conchae shown in Figure 3). There are three regions inside the nostrils called superior nasal concha, middle nasal concha and inferior nasal concha which are nearest to the olfactory receptors where stimulating electrode could be placed. Therefore, we mainly stimulate receptor cells in this area in purpose to trigger smell related perceptions in the human brain. The placement of electrodes will be done with a help of a medical expert in a way that electrodes would not come off quickly. These electrodes will be controlled by our own special designed circuit that can deliver few mili-amperes of current pulses to the smell sensitive cells.
In most of the olfactory system related studies examining electrical activity of the olfactory bulb, an adequate olfactory stimulus such as blowing odorous air into the nose has been used as a routine method of activating the olfactory bulb. Only few attempts has been made to do a electrical stimulation of the olfactory system. In 1961 Yamamoto has stimulated the human olfactory mucosa by electrical pulse to detect the bulbar potentials. Electrical stimulation (2 mA, 0.5 ms) of the human olfactory mucosa evoked a change in potential recorded from the frontal sector of the head. Ishimaru et al. has conducted an experiment in 1997. During that experiment the properties of the olfactory bulb potential evoked by electrical stimulation of the olfactory mucosa were studied in rabbits immobilized with d-tubocurarine. The evoked potential was a slow negative wave when recorded from the surface of the bulb. Therefore, this field is still remained as an untouched area for exploration of new possibilities until today. In 2002 Ishimaru et al. concluded that electrical olfactory evoked potential (EOEP) is suitable for electrophysiology. The relationship between the EOEP and Toyoda and Takagi’s perfumist’s strip method T&T olfactometry which is a standard Japanese means of psychophysical olfactometry are investigated. Electrical stimulation via bipolar electrodes (2mA, 0.5ms, 300 trials) is feed to the olfactory mucosa. 4 channels of EOEP are amplified, filtered (2 to 250Hz) and recorded. During electrical stimulation of right or left of the olfactory mucosa evoked an electrical olfactory evoked potential. However, there is no sense of smell occurred. Tali et al. also concluded that indiscriminate electrical stimulation of the olfactory mucosa does not produce olfactory perception but does alter activity in deep brain structures.
We hope in future, we will be able to develop a combined interface where we can effectively regenerate smell sensations digitally. This digital regeneration of smell will be useful for several industries like gaming, virtual reality, entertainment, online marketing, where people can create content, information, food related to smell that can be shared, learned, and experienced. In Medical industry this research will be useful to treat patients who are suffering from medical conditions like Ansomia and Parosmia.