MOTIVATED by a desire to create projects that would serve humanity, Dr Safaa Najah Saud created a blind navigation tool comprising a handy stick, smart hat and smart shoes to assist the blind community.
“The three devices work together to help the blind navigate.
“The tool tracks obstacles, has GPS navigation as well as home and work buttons, is able to send emergency SMS, and can be synced with a smartphone,” said the Management and Science University (MSU) research coordinator.
“It’s also fast and cheap. Based on a statistical marketing I did, my blind navigation tool costs about 20% of other similar products in the market.”
Dr Safaa’s project, called “Future Vision: Smart and Affordable Technologies for Blindness and Vision Impairment People”, won him a gold award and Best Young Inventor Award at the Invention and Innovation Competition of Private Higher Education Institutions (Pertandingan Rekacipta dan Inovasi Institusi Pengajian Tinggi Swasta, or Perintis) 2018.
Perintis 2018, themed “Transforming Lives Through Innovation”, offered a platform for researchers, industry practitioners and schools to present innovations on recent developments in multi-disciplinary fields, as well to showcase and promote the products’ potential.
The biennial competition was divided into two groups – University/ Industry (eight categories) and School (four categories), with gold, silver and bronze prizes awarded to top winners. The gold winners were also in the running to win special awards.
Five schools won the gold awards for their projects on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), recycling and creative energy applications.
They were: SMK Sultan Badlishah, SMK Tropicana, SJK (C) Kheng Chee, SMJK Chan Wa and SMK Raja Mahadi.
Some 40 projects in the university/ industry category were presented the gold awards.
The MSU Special Award went to Universiti Kuala Lumpur (UniKL) for its “Specimen Handling Application: An IT Application for Lean Healthcare” project; Most Promising Invention Award to UniKL for its “Novel and Natural Ultrasound Gel: A Green and Effective Technique Used in Medical and Paramedical Fields”, and Best of the Best Award to Universiti Tenaga Nasional for its “Senslar - Smart and Sensitive Solar Floating Platform”.
The “Invention of a New 8-in-1 Instant Herbal Coffee as Halal Health Beverage” project by Dr Zulhabri Othman and Dr Rosjulila Husin was presented the Best Commercial Potential Award.
“We are happy with our win. It is an example of how a partnership between university and industry can result in a successful collaboration,” said MSU lecturer Dr Zulhabri.
“Our product is an instant coffee that is halal and has health properties. Coffee is one of the most popular drinks worldwide, and we wanted to create something unique for a global market.”
Dr Rosjulila, who works in the private sector, said it took four years to work on the formulation, research and commercialisation for their ‘Kopi Maca Delima’ product that includes ingredients such as pomegranate, maca powder and dates.
“The instant coffee has been exported to overseas markets in Brunei, Indonesia and Singapore. Locally, it is sold at selected halal supermarkets, agents, stockists and co-operatives,” she said.
Speaking at the awards night, Deputy Education Minister Teo Nie Ching said, “Perintis 2018 not only offers an opportunity for researchers and industry practitioners to present the latest inventions and innovations, it also allows them to exchange ideas, skills and innovations, particularly in the era of Industry 4.0 Revolution.
“The Education Ministry will always study and improve its policies and support research efforts by higher education institutions in Malaysia.
“The collaboration between university and industry has to be strengthened, in an effort to promote successful commercialisation of research and development products,” she said.
The event hosted by MSU also saw the launch of the Research and Innovation of Private Higher Education Network (Riphen) with seven institutions in its steering committee.
“Riphen will serve as a platform for private universities to network and create a culture of research and innovation among them,” said MSU president Prof Tan Sri Dr Mohd Shukri Ab Yajid.