IT was a day for researchers of Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (Unimas) to shine at the eighth Unimas Research and Development Expo 2015 as they competed for the title of Best R&D product on Tuesday.
Organised by Unimas Research and Innovation Management Centre (RIMC), the theme this year is “Strengthening Research and Innovation for Communities Sustainability”.
Over 130 innovative and creative products from different fields of research were showcased. It saw an increase of 70 new products over last year.
The social science and humanities section submitted 39 products, technology and engineering 31, pure and applied science 27, and computer and information technology 33.
Students from various schools were invited to attend the expo to be exposed to the latest technology community-friendly products.
One such product introduced was the “Magic ecopaste for the batik industry” by Assoc Prof Dr Zainab Ngaini, Norshada Abdul Latiff, Nazlina Shaari and Khairul Aidil Azlin Abd Rahman. The paste, made from sago waste, has similar characteristics as paraffin wax used in batik but it is biodegradable, cost effective, safe to use and non-toxic. The ecopaste has an added advantage of being odourless and works well in room temperature compared with hot paraffin wax.
Another notable entry for helping the blind was the “Enhanced mobile text reader”. Also called the LexiEyes Plus Enchanced Edition, it is a mobile application that runs on Android operating system. By capturing text using the phone camera, the text captured can be converted into spoken text which can then be “listened” by the users. This project allows visually-impaired learners to “read” non-Braille materials without the need of standalone apparatus.
Groups of Form 5 students from SM Sains Kuching Utara visited the expo in conjunction with their school science month. The most popular booths were the Petai Belalang: A New Clone with Reduced Mimosine Content, Value of Acoustic Measures in Indentifying Cryptic Bat Species, Micropropagation of Red Kelampayan, and Bornean Frog Skin and its Peptide Potential for Antimicrobial Activities.
Science, Technology and Innovation Malaysia (MOSTI) Deputy Minister Datuk Dr Abu Bakar Mohamad Diah, who launched the expo, said with the rapid changes in the field of science and technology, it was mandatory for people to equip themselves with science and technology efficiency so that they could adapt to the ability to make adjustments, innovation and investments of modern technology.
“In helping to generate value-added economy for the country, MOSTI encourages innovation, technology development and commercialisation through grant schemes and research funding like ScienceFund, TechnoFund, InnoFund and Flagship Program,” he said.
Abu Bakar showed great interest in the research products as he toured the expo, enthusiastically asking questions as he went. He gleefully tried to ride on a “Berapak” Composite Recreational Bike, made from inner bamboo veneer, compressed polystyrene and biodegradable binder.
Unimas vice chancellor Professor Datuk Dr Mohamad Kadim Suaidi said RIMC’s efforts in organising the expo could serve as a platform to elevate the transformation of research, protection of intellectual property and drive the efforts of the product development towards commercialisation.
He hoped the researchers of Unimas would not only focus on producing but also increase the strategic collaboration with fellow scholars in and outside of the country as well as publishing journals and scientific papers to increase the credibility of the researchers.