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Two HKU research centers under InnoHK demonstrate promising innovations

The University of Hong Kong (HKU) is playing a leading role in InnoHK, a major initiative of the Hong Kong Government to develop Hong Kong as a hub for global research. (Screenshot)

The University of Hong Kong (HKU) is playing a leading role in InnoHK, a major initiative of the Hong Kong Government to develop Hong Kong as a hub for global research. Nine research laboratories, the most among local universities, have been established at HKU with a funding of over HK$3 billion over five years.

Two laboratories under the Faculty of Engineering, HKU, namely the Centre for Transformative Garment Production and the Advanced Biomedical Instrumentation Centre held a media sharing session last week.

TRANSFORMATIVE GARMENT PRODUCTION

Established under the InnoHK Research Clusters, the Centre for Transformative Garment Production (Centre) brings together top-tier researchers from the University of Hong Kong(HKU) and Tohoku University, Japan (TU) to advance manufacturing automation in the garment industry. The Centre will carry out major research programs to develop technologies based on artificial intelligence and robotics (AIR) to enhance garment production.

Labour shortage and shifting consumer behavior are critical challenges facing the garment industry. While capacity for mass production is hampered by labor shortage, garment manufacturers are also facing the challenges of a rapidly changing market that looks for more customization, on-demand delivery yet all at lower cost.

To address these issues. the Centre has set strategic research directions towards the development of new AIR approaches to automate sewing operations, fabric handling and human-robot collaborative production and finishing processes. 

Professor Norman Tien, Managing Director (L) and Professor Kazuhiro Kosuge, Deputy Managing Director of the Centre. (Provided to DotDotNews)

"We aim to bring the transformative power of AIR to the garment industry and enhance our manufacturers' competitiveness. This is crucial for the future of the industry, which has been predominantly reliant on the traditional mode of being labor-intensive and yet to be greatly impacted by intelligent automation technology," said Professor Norman C. Tien. Managing Director of the Centre, Taikoo Professor of Engineering and Chair Professor of Microsystems Technology at the University of Hong Kong.

Professor Kazuhiro Kosuge, Deputy Managing Director of the Centre, agrees with the need to revolutionize the garment industry. "We would like to empower the garment workforce by developing a completely new automation system for the industry. Fabric and garment are soft and flexible, and are very difficult to be recognized and handled by a robot due to their variable shapes. The new automation system can be developed only by the transformative power of AIR. "

This photo shows an advanced garment production facility at the Centre's R&D laboratory. (Provided to DotDotNews)
Smart AIR systems that are able to augment human workers and effectively collaborate with them. (Provided to DotDotNews)

CREATING INNOVATIVE HEALTHCARE IMPACT

Biomedical instrumentation plays a critical role in enhancing the healthcare industry and contributing to precision medicine knowledge. Advancing the development of cutting-edge medical devices requires an environment that facilitates the commercialization of research results.

The newly set-up Advanced Biomedical Instrumentation Centre aims to foster collaboration among top-notch engineers, scientists, and clinicians. The Centre is a collaboration between The University of Hong Kong (HKU) and John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Science at Harvard University (Harvard SEAS), and the goal is to develop next-generation and low-cost devices and instrumentation based on technologies, such as droplet microfluidics, biophotonics, biosensors, and many others.

Four professors from HKU's Faculty of Engineering and two others from Harvard SEAS are leading research programs that can shape the way health services are delivered. (Provided to DotDotNews)

Four professors from HKU's Faculty of Engineering and two others from Harvard SEAS are leading research programs that can shape the way health services are delivered.

"Our Centre is projected to the cutting-edge science that can be translated and commercialized to realize the social impact. In particular, we focus on devices and instrumentation based on novel scientific concepts. The impact will be extended to society, especially in the SAR, China and eventually the rest of the world," Centre Director Professor Anderson Shum said.

The photo shows a researcher manipulating a facility of the Centre's laboratory. (Provided to DotDotNews)

The Centre's R&D activities will focus on four high-potential research themes, including affordable screening tests, precision companion diagnostics, strategic therapeutic approaches, and advanced medical device components.

The Centre has another objective-to develop and establish a strong ecosystem that will nurture young local talents to innovate new instrumentation to meet the growing demands in precision medicine. Postdoctoral fellows can enrich their experiences by working with researchers in a technology-infused environment.

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