Jun 1, 2020

AI Hub Singapore creates COVID-19 monitoring app

singapore
covid-19
AI Hub
William Girling
2 min
AI Hub Singapore creates COVID-19 monitoring app
In an effort to accelerate Singapores economic recovery from COVID-19, AI Hub has reportedly created an app to monitor social distancing.

With the succ...

In an effort to accelerate Singapore’s economic recovery from COVID-19, AI Hub has reportedly created an app to monitor social distancing.

With the successful long-term victory over coronavirus hinging on well-implemented testing, tracking and tracing, technology certainly has a strong part to play in any eventual solution.

Acknowledging this, tech innovators AI Hub Singapore have designed an AI (artificial intelligence) based application which can easily run on a smartphone.

Called the ‘SafeDistancer’, the app utilises the company’s software to detect and measure how far other people are using the phone’s camera. If someone comes too close, the device will then emit an alarm to alert the user.

Innovating with AI

Committed to moving AI beyond its sci-fi preconceptions and even past its routine usage in automation, AI Hub is exploring ways to make everyday life easier, simpler and more productive. 

The SafeDistancer represents a step forward in ‘edge computing’ - wherein analysis is performed on the device itself - for the company, which utilises advanced machine learning algorithms, image recognition and data analytics.

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Other solutions developed by the company include AI Smart Vision (realtime image processing), AI SmartLanguage (computer language processing) and AI SmartPrediction (forecasting).

“At AI Hub, we believe that businesses and people stand to reap great benefit by tapping AI to help them. We bring together AI technologies that solve a range of business challenges, including in marketing and operations,” says the company website.

“AI enables teams to focus on the aspects of work that are less repetitive and more interesting, enhancing business performance as well as team morale.”

Facilitating the return to work

Although the concept might provoke alarm with some over perceived breaches of privacy, AI Hub state that this has been addressed in two ways: edge computing means that analysis stays on the device and isn’t shared externally, and the app neither recognises faces nor saves data.  

Aware that such a device will likely be welcomed by the business community, Chong Choo, Director of Ecosystem at AI Hub said, “Our customers and partners are looking forward to going back to their workplaces and we are happy to be able to help them do this in a safe and responsible way."

The possibilities opened by the company’s innovation are exciting, especially if the technology can be extracted and implemented beyond mobile devices. The eventual end of lockdown could depend on apps like SafeDistancer.

For more information on business topics in APAC, please take a look at the latest edition of Business Chief APAC

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Jun 10, 2021

Why Alibaba Cloud is doubling down in Southeast Asia

AlibabaCloud
Cloud
datacenter
southeastasia
Kate Birch
4 min
Amid fierce competition, Alibaba announces expansion of its cloud business in Southeast Asia, with plans to upskill developers and launch more datacenters

Alibaba has announced expansion of its cloud business within Southeast Asia, with the introduction of a digital upskilling programme for locals alongside acceleration of its data centre openings.

This doubling down of its cloud business in Southeast Asia comes as the company faces stiff competition at home in China from rivals including Pinduoduo Inc and Tencent and seeks to up its game in a region considered to be the fastest-growing in cloud adoption to compete with leading global cloud providers AWS, Google and Microsoft.

Alibaba Cloud, the cloud computing arm of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba and second biggest revenue driver after its core e-commerce business, finally turned profitable for the first time in the December 2020 following 11 years of operation, thanks largely to the pandemic which has spurred businesses and consumers to get online.

Southeast Asia growing demand for cloud

In 2020, there was a noticeable increase in interest towards cloud in SE Asia, with the population embracing digital transformation during the pandemic and SMEs across the region showing increased demand for cloud computing.

Such demand has led to the expectation that Southeast Asia is now the fastest-growing adopter of cloud computing with the cloud market expected to reach US$40.32bn in Southeast Asia by 2025 according to IDC.

And there are plenty of players vying for a slice of the cloud pie. While AWS, the cloud arm of Amazon, is the leading player in Southeast Asia (and across all of APAC apart from China), Microsoft and Google are the next two most dominant players in Southeast Asia with Alibaba coming in fourth.

“There is no doubt that during the past year we have seen the acceleration of digital transformation efforts across all industries,” explains Ahmed Mazhari, President, Microsoft Asia. “Asia now accounts for 60% of the world’s growth and is leading the global recovery with the digitalization of business models and economies. Cloud will continue to be a core foundation empowering the realization of Asia’s ambitions, enabling co-innovation across industries, government and community, to drive inclusive societal progress.”

Alibaba’s commitment to Southeast Asia

At its annual Alibaba Cloud Summit, the Chinese company announced Project AsiaForward, an initiative designed to upskill local developers, small-to-medium-sized companies and connect businesses with venture capital. Alibaba said it would set aside US$1bn over the next three years to develop digital skills in the region, with the aim of helping to develop 100,000 developers and to help grow 100,000 tech startups.

But that’s not all. The company, which recently opened its third data centre in Indonesia, serving customers with offerings across database, security, network, machine learning and data analytics services, also announced it would unveil its first data centre in the Philippines by the end of 2021.

Furthermore, that it would establish its first international innovation centre, located in Malaysia, offering a one-stop shop platform for Malaysian SMEs, startups and developers to innovate in emerging technologies.

“We are seeing a strong demand for cloud-native technologies in emerging verticals across the region, from e-commerce and logistics platforms to FinTech and online entertainment. As the leading cloud service provider and trusted partner in APAC, we are committed to bettering the region’s cloud ecosystem and enhancing its digital infrastructure,” says Jeff Zhang, President, Alibaba Cloud Intelligence.

What other cloud providers are pledging in the region

This pledge by Alibaba to upskill both individuals and businesses follows Microsoft’s announcement in April that it was planning to upskill Malaysia’s population and would invest US$1bn over the next five years to build a new data centre centre in Malaysia.

This is the latest in a long line of pledges to the region by the US tech giant, which is fast accelerating the growth of its cloud datacenter footprint in Asia, expanding form seven 11 markets, and recently adding three new markets across Asia – Malaysia, Indonesia and Taiwan. Back in February, it announced plans to establish its first datacenter region in Indonesia and to skill an additional 3 million Indonesians to achieve its goal of empowering over 24 million Indonesians by the end of 2021.

And recent research by IDC shows that Microsoft’s most recent datacenter expansions in Malaysia, Indonesia and Taiwan alone are set to generate more than US$21bn in new revenues and will create 100,000 new jobs in the next four years.

Also last month, Tencent announced it has launched internet data centres in Bangkok, Hong Kong, Tokyo to add to its second availability zone opened in Korea last year and plans to add an internet data center in Indonesia, and Google has also been pushing into the enterprise space in Southeast Asia for several years now.

Expanding data centers allows cloud providers to boost their capacity in certain countries or regions.

 

 

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