In Focus - Issue 29 (Spring 2018)

Sending out fresh signals ngenious applications by postgraduate students at the HKUST-NIE Social Media Lab are ready to take forward cutting-edge communications. A battery-less bluetooth low energy beacon developed by Electronic and Computer Engineering PhD student Kang Eun Jeon is set to facilitate communication with Internet of Things (IoT) devices, such as smartphones. Beacons can send out regular bluetooth signals allowing mobile phones to interact with the physical environment. When a customer passes a beacon in a department store, for example, information can be sent to that person’s phone. Beacons are fast becoming a key component in many social and IoT infrastructures, Kang Eun said, noting that over , beacons had been installed at Hong Kong International Airport recently to assist travelers with indoor navigation through their smartphones. However, the majority of bluetooth low energy beacons in the world are battery-driven, he explained. As batteries need to be regularly replaced or recharged, they require a lot of manpower for maintenance resulting in high labor costs. The HKUST luXbeacon can harvest and store energy from solar and indoor lighting, eliminating the need for batteries. When fully charged, the HKUST luXbeacon can run for eight hours if broadcasting messages every second and up to hours when broadcasting every seconds. “The bene ts of battery-less beacons are huge,” Kang Eun said. “If all the batteries used in all the beacons by are stacked up, they will reach a height of . km or over . times the height of Mount Everest.” A reduction in battery use can help prevent global warming signi cantly, he added. Kang Eun’s research is being carried out under the supervision of Prof James She, Director of HKUST-NIE Social Media Lab. Prof She said the Lab intended to make the beacon’s design, rmware source codes, circuit and component design accessible through open-hardware and an open-source University licensing process. The aim was to encourage widespread adoption by other inventors, developers, entrepreneurs and smaller companies and make a larger global impact. In addition, PhD student Ming Cheung, also supervised by Prof She, has analyzed million images shared on social media from countries/regions using big data analytics to ascertain new social signals that can guide smart recommendations on daily living. While existing “object recognition” only recognizes objects without making further sense of the images, the HKUST technology can detect social signals from the images for more accurate connection discovery. For example, if a user uploads a large number of pictures of Korean architecture, lms and fashion, it seems to indicate a love of Korean culture. Thus, when the user searches online for a place to eat, he or she would be recommended a Korean restaurant, Ming explained. If another user uploads pictures of Hong Kong, the recommendation might be a dim sum restaurant. Clothing and travel recommendations can also be made in a similar way. An application for a patent on the technology has been led. 28 IN FOCUS Pacesetters PhD student Kang Eun Jeon demonstrates his compact (5cm x 6cm x 1cm) high-performance battery-less beacon. PhD student Ming Cheung (left), supervised by Prof James She, has created a recommendation technology that can detect new social signals from images. I