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PolyU and Alibaba Cloud join hands to advance signal quality estimation technology, driving dynamic networks adoption in the telecoms industry Deployed by data centres in 15 countries and regions; network capacity potentially increases by 10%

Prof. Alan LAU, Professor of the Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering of The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU), and his research team, have recently collaborated with Alibaba Cloud, the digital technology and intelligence backbone of Alibaba Group, to develop signal quality estimation technology, driving the adoption of dynamic networks in the telecommunications industry. The research team led by Prof. Alan Lau has collaborated with Alibaba Cloud’s technical team to conduct research on Alibaba Cloud’s robust cloud computing platform. By measuring the signal strength at various positions and channels on the fiber-optic network, and integrating the technologies of optics, physics and big data analytics, they have been able to provide a more comprehensive and accurate assessment of signal quality. The research outcomes help cloud service providers gain a deeper understanding of the overall state of signal transmission, enhance the stability of dynamic networks, and strengthen their ability to implement such networks effectively. Adopting PolyU’s new technology, the estimation error of signal-to-noise ratio – a measure comparing the desired and undesired signals – has been reduced from 22% to 4%. In addition, the technology can potentially increase network capacity by 10% under the same level of reliability. The research project has secured matching funding from the Innovation and Technology Commission’s Partnership Research Programme. The technology has been extensively deployed by Alibaba Cloud in its data centres spanning 15 countries and regions, making a positive impact to the cloud provider in supporting notable e-commerce sales events, such as the 11.11 Global Shopping Festival and the upcoming 618 Mid-Year Shopping Festival. As the demand for emerging multimedia network applications such as Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR), metaverse, future 6G mobile network communication and high-definition live video streaming continues to surge, cloud service providers are frequently faced with ad-hoc needs for ultra-fast network connections within a short timeframe and specific range. A dramatic shift toward online shopping, exemplified by events like the 11.11 Global Shopping Festival, Christmas, New Year’s Eve and other large-scale events or festivals has led to an increase in the demand for real-time communication within a limited timeframe, resulting in a surge in network traffic. Prof. Alan Lau said, “While cloud service providers can keep up with traffic demand by expanding bandwidth in their fibre-optic networks, the addition or removal of bandwidth in their networks can lead to nonlinear interference, which ultimately affects the quality of existing signals. As a result, providers tend to be prudent when it comes to scaling up the implementation of dynamic networks. Therefore, it is crucial to improve the accuracy of signal quality assessment in dynamic environments.” Dr Xie Chongjin, Senior Director and Chief Telecommunication Scientist of Infrastructure Product Unit, Alibaba Cloud Intelligence, stated, “The technology developed by PolyU is easy to implement and has been applied to Alibaba Cloud’s network operation platforms deployed in 15 countries and regions worldwide. It has effectively enhanced the reliability and agility of our network, allowing us to support future network traffic demand. We look forward to further strengthening cooperation with PolyU to continue driving the innovation and advancement of telecommunication technology.”   ***END***

11 Apr, 2024

Research & Innovation Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering

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PolyU ranked top 20 globally for five subjects in Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) World University Rankings by Subject 2024; Four subjects ranked No. 1 in Hong Kong

The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) has attained remarkable success in the Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) World University Rankings by Subject 2024, ranking within the top 20 globally for five subjects and the first in Hong Kong for four subjects. Several engineering and technology-related fields also placed in the top 100 worldwide. PolyU placed in the global top 20 for subjects in Hospitality and Leisure Management (11th), Civil & Structural Engineering (14th), Architecture & Built Environment (14th), Art & Design (19th) and Marketing (19th). Additionally, PolyU was ranked first in Hong Kong for Hospitality and Leisure Management, Engineering – Civil & Structural, Art & Design, and Marketing reaffirming the University’s leadership both internationally and locally. Furthermore, PolyU ranked in the top 100 globally in 21 subjects, among which many are related to engineering and technology, including: Civil & Structural Engineering, Computer Science & Information Systems, Data Science & Artificial Intelligence, Electrical & Electronic Engineering, Engineering & Technology (Broad Subject Area), and Mechanical, Aeronautical & Manufacturing Engineering. Prof. Jin-Guang TENG, President of PolyU, said, “We are pleased to receive international recognition across multiple disciplines. PolyU is committed to becoming an innovative, world-class university with a strong sense of social responsibility. Moving forward, the University will continue to pursue excellence in education, research, innovation and entrepreneurship, with the aim of playing an increasingly important role on the global stage of higher education.” The QS World University Rankings by Subject evaluated institutions across 54 subjects in five broad subject areas. The subject rankings are weighted based on academic reputation, employer reputation, research citations per paper, the H-index and international research network.    ***END***

10 Apr, 2024

Achievements Institutional Planning and Analytics Office


PolyU joins forces with Wenzhou institution to promote vibrant Chinese embroidery arts and intangible cultural heritage at Chinese Culture Festival

The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) is hosting the “Splendid China Embroidery - Traditional Chinese Embroidery Crafts and Ou Embroidery Works Exhibition” as part of its Chinese Culture Festival. Aiming to promote the national intangible cultural heritage, with expert lectures, workshops and guided tours, it runs from today until 23 April. An opening ceremony for the Exhibition, co-organised by PolyU, the Wenzhou Municipal Culture, Radio, Television and Tourism Bureau, and the Zhejiang Industry and Trade Vocational College, was held today with officiating guests including Dr LAM Tai-fai, PolyU Council Chairman; Prof. Jin-Guang TENG, PolyU President; Mr ZHANG Zhihong, Party Secretary and First-level Researcher of the Wenzhou Municipal Culture, Radio, Television and Tourism Bureau; Prof. WANG Yan, Vice President of the Zhejiang Industry and Trade Vocational College; and Ms ZOU Shengzhu, Senior Arts and Crafts Artiest of Zhejiang Industry and Trade Vocational College, and Zhejiang Arts and Crafts Master. They were joined by Dr Katherine Ngan Ng Yu-ying, Court Chairman of PolyU; University senior management and faculty/school deans and other representatives. Dr Lam Tai-fai remarked, “PolyU not only places great importance on scientific research but is also committed to promoting Chinese culture. Broad and profound, Chinese culture is our inheritance and requires careful preservation and promotion among the wider society. The PolyU Chinese Culture Festival aims to inspire broader appreciation of the charm and richness of Chinese culture, with a particular focus on the younger generation. Our goal is for them to develop a deeper understanding of our vibrant traditional culture, enabling them to explore, innovate and embrace the future. This will ultimately facilitate Hong Kong’s integration into the overall development of the Country and contribute to the development of both Hong Kong and our Nation.” Mr Zhang Zhihong stated, “This exhibition brings together exceptional Ou embroidery works from all over the country. By employing technology, these pieces have been presented in an innovative way to promote the beauty of Chinese culture and traditional crafts. I sincerely hope this cultural exchange activity will serve as an opportunity for Wenzhou and Hong Kong to establish a new model of collaboration and exchange, fostering a closer cultural connection and deeper mutual understanding. I aspire for both cities to utilise the rich Chinese cultural heritage as a bridge to facilitate cultural exchanges, mutual learning and coordinated urban development.” Prof. Wang Yan said, “I am deeply honoured to have been invited to exhibit our Ou embroidery works, which are a part of our national intangible cultural heritage, at PolyU. I hope that through the exhibition and workshops, more friends from Hong Kong can experience the unique charm and contemporary value of Chinese culture. Moving forward, our College is committed to strengthening cooperation and exchanges with the PolyU-Wenzhou Technology and Innovation Research Institute, further deepening multifaceted collaboration in areas such as academic exchange, talent cultivation, research and innovation, and cultural inheritance to propel the creative transformation of our traditional culture.” Embroidery, one of China’s ancient handicrafts, holds profound cultural significance and historical value. In ancient times, Wenzhou in Zhejiang province, was known as the Dong’ou kingdom, a region renowned for its thriving sericulture and silk industries, which contributed to the flourishing of Ou embroidery craftsmanship. Recognised as a national intangible cultural heritage, Ou embroidery showcases exceptional artistry, folklore and economic value. This exhibition proudly displays a diverse collection of Ou embroidery artworks across the PolyU campus and in Hotel ICON, the teaching and research hotel built for the University’s School of Hotel and Tourism Management. To enhance the visitor experience, selected exhibition zones imaginatively combine traditional culture and technology, incorporating vivid light and colour technologies contributed by Prof. Tommy Minchen WEI, Professor of the Department of Building Environment and Energy Engineering and Director of the Colour Imaging and Metaverse Research Centre at PolyU, to highlight the beauty of the embroidery craftsmanship. Augmented reality technology will be also employed to enrich the viewing experience of exhibits at certain zones. Ms Zou Shengzhu, Senior Arts and Crafts Artiest of Zhejiang Industry and Trade Vocational College and Zhejiang Arts and Crafts Master, introduced the Ou embroidery exhibits in a guided tour. In addition to the Exhibition, there are workshops designed to reveal the skills of Ou embroidery, fostering an appreciation for the culture and excellence in craftsmanship. In addition to the Exhibition, there will be two lectures, workshops and guided tours hosted by Ms ZOU Shengzhu, Senior Arts and Crafts Artiest of Zhejiang Industry and Trade Vocational College, and Zhejiang Arts and Crafts Master, all of which will be open to PolyU students, staff, alumni and the public free of charge. These activities are designed to reveal the skills of Ou embroidery, fostering an appreciation for the culture and excellence in craftsmanship, while also enhancing the participants’ artistic sensitivity, insight, aesthetics and creativity. Additionally, a voting activity will also be organised for “My Favourite Ou Embroidery Artwork” to help further engage visitors. Another upcoming activity will be the “Indigo Dyeing from the Blue - The Silk Road Textile Dyeing Enters Hong Kong” exhibition to be held between 30 May and 13 June. In collaboration with the College of Art of Beijing Union University, the exhibition will showcase a number of silk dyeing artworks from Prof. GUAN Lansheng, a fifth-generation representative inheritor of national intangible cultural heritage in textile dyeing* crafts and a professor from the College of Art of Beijing Union University. To learn more about the PolyU Chinese Culture Festival and the “Splendid China Embroidery - Traditional Chinese Embroidery Crafts and Ou Embroidery Works Exhibition”, please visit the website or click here to obtain details and photos of featured exhibits. *Remark: Textile dyeing refers to the general term for ancient silk printing and dyeing crafts. From a craft classification perspective, textile dyeing is divided into four categories: grey dyeing, resist dyeing, wax dyeing, and clamp dyeing.   *** END ***

10 Apr, 2024

Events Research and Innovation Office

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PolyU researchers introduce biomineralisation as sustainable strategy against microbial corrosion in marine concrete

Microbially induced corrosion (MIC) is a major issue in marine environments, leading to structural damage such as cracking in concrete infrastructure. This corrosion poses a persistent challenge, significantly reducing the lifespan of marine structures and resulting in substantial economic losses. In response to the need for an effective solution to combat marine corrosion in concrete, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) researchers have developed a biomineralisation approach to protect marine concrete from MIC. Prof. Xiang-dong LI, Dean of the Faculty of Construction and Environment, Director of the Research Institute for Sustainable Urban Development, Chair Professor of Environmental Science and Technology, and Ko Jan Ming Professor in Sustainable Urban Development at PolyU, has led research that successfully introduced a novel biomineralisation strategy which effectively isolates marine concrete from MIC, thereby contributing to the realisation of sustainable coastal structures. MIC in concrete usually occurs in harsh environments with the presence of corrosive microorganisms in, for example, sewage structures, wastewater treatment plants, and marine structures. The formation of a biomineralised film on concrete surfaces is typically considered to be the most effective anticorrosion mechanism as it can provide a barrier to inhibit corrosion build-up. Prof. Li said, “Our biomineralisation technique serves as an environmentally friendly coating method for controlling concrete corrosion, with minimal impact on the overall biofilm communities. Also, it utilises carbon dioxide to produce mineral precipitates, enhancing the durability of concrete structures. This process not only reduces the carbon footprint and energy consumption of marine infrastructure throughout its lifespan, but also makes a valuable contribution to carbon neutrality and sustainability.” The study has demonstrated that the biomineralisation treatment effectively prevents corrosion by reducing the total and relative abundance of sulfate-reducing bacteria (SRB). SRB is a type of anaerobic bacteria and can produce hydrogen sulfide, which is corrosive and can, in turn, lead to material deterioration. The biomineralised film acts as a protective layer, controlling sulfate diffusion and isolating the concrete from corrosive SRB communities. This protective mechanism significantly extends the lifespan of concrete structures and has no negative impact on the native marine microbial communities. Prof. Li added, “If the biomineralised film remains intact, repainting the concrete structures is unnecessary. The utilisation of a single coating treatment eliminates the need for multiple treatments, further minimising the cost and carbon footprint.” This biomineralisation strategy has strong potential for applications in corrosive environments, such as in marine and sewage settings, and water-cooling utilities, where concrete corrosion is induced by corrosive microorganisms. A paper reporting the research, “Biomineralisation to prevent microbially induced corrosion on concrete for sustainable marine infrastructure”, has been published in Environmental Science & Technology. The study employed a combination of chemical and mechanical property measurements of concrete, in conjunction with an analysis of the microbial community of biofilms, to evaluate the effectiveness of biomineralisation techniques in inhibiting corrosion of marine concrete. These assessments aimed to enhance understanding of MIC development. The results contribute to the development of new techniques for inhibiting corrosion to achieve sustainable marine concrete structures. Considering that the type of colonised surface also affects the treatment effect of biomineralisation, the effectiveness of biomineralisation will be further investigated for different types of concrete to expand its potential application.  In addition, functional prediction can be used in future studies to obtain a mechanistic understanding of the possible metabolic capability of microbial action on concrete corrosion. This understanding would be beneficial for uncovering the mystery of the effect of SRB on the lifespan of marine concrete structures.   *** End***

9 Apr, 2024

Research & Innovation Faculty of Construction and Environment

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PolyU harnesses GeoAI technologies to enable sustainable urban development

Geospatial artificial intelligence (GeoAI) is an interdisciplinary field that combines geospatial science and artificial intelligence (AI). The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) is harnessing innovative GeoAI technologies to provide ground-breaking solutions for some of the environmental and social challenges facing the world today, in various fields including transportation, urban and public safety, planning, climate change and natural disasters. Prof. Qihao WENG, Chair Professor of Geomatics and Artificial Intelligence of the Department of Land Surveying and Geo-Informatics, and Global STEM Professor, established the PolyU Research Centre for Artificial Intelligence in Geomatics (RCAIG), to focus on the development of original and innovative AI methodologies and technologies for geomatics and their applications in urban areas, with the goal of it becoming a global R&D hub in GeoAI. Prof. Weng has recently been honoured with the 2024 American Association of Geographers (AAG) Wilbanks Prize for Transformational Research in Geography and the 2024 AAG Remote Sensing Specialty Group Lifetime Achievement Honor Award for his ground-breaking contributions in geography. One direction for the Research Centre is investigation into human-environment interactions in urbanisation by utilising geospatial analytics, GeoAI and big data methods. Another direction is to create various data products of global urban areas using Earth Observations (EO) and to provide EO-based urban data services. As RCAIG Principal Investigator and Director, Prof. Weng said, “Earth observation is important as a guiding compass for understanding changes in the environment and society. Our research focuses on diverse fields including geospatial big data and AI, remote sensing, ground-based sensors, navigation and positioning, surveying and geodesy, laser scanning, and photogrammetry. These technologies play a crucial role in addressing and resolving key environmental and social challenges.” In particular, GeoAI has revolutionised building monitoring by utilising thousands of learnable parameters. An illustration of this is its ability to automatically learn and identify general patterns of buildings such as colour and shape. This technology is crucially applied to detect disaster-damaged buildings, retrieve building height, identify structural changes and estimate building energy consumption. As a result, GeoAI has emerged as a mainstream solution for more efficient and insightful building monitoring. Environmental monitoring In the field of urbanisation monitoring, an RCAIG research team has developed an impervious surface area based urban cellular automata (CA) model that can simulate the fractional change of urban areas within each grid by utilising annual urban extent time series data obtained from satellite observations. By categorising the historical pathways of urban area growth into different levels of urbanisation, the model offers more detailed insights compared to traditional, binary, CA models. This demonstrates its great potential in supporting sustainable development. Research conducted by Ms Wanru HE, an RCAIG doctoral research assistant, and her team was reported in the paper “Modeling gridded urban fractional change using the temporal context information in the urban cellular automata model”, and has been published in Cities. Their model effectively captures the dynamics of urban sprawl with significantly improved computational efficiency and performance, and will help enable the modelling of urban growth at regional and even global level, under diverse future urbanisation scenarios. GeoAI for traffic management In the area of smart traffic management, to enhance the efficiency of ride-hailing platforms and achieve intelligent management of their services, the RCAIG research team has developed a multi-agent order matching and vehicle repositioning approach. This innovative technology focuses on coordinating the supply and demand of ride-hailing services, ultimately aiming to improve their overall efficiency. Their approach provides a ground-breaking solution to tackle two critical aspects necessary for efficient ride-hailing services. Firstly, it addresses order matching by efficiently assigning orders to available vehicles. Secondly, it incorporates proactive vehicle repositioning, strategically deploying idle vehicles to regions with potentially high demand. Based on multi-agent deep reinforcement learning, this innovation solves the complex planning issues in transportation and offers a new perspective on a long-term spatio-temporal planning problem. The research conducted by Ms Mingyue XU, another RCAIG researcher, and her team, was reported in the paper “Multi-agent reinforcement learning to unify order-matching and vehicle-repositioning in ride-hailing services”, and has been published in the International Journal of Geographical Information Science. The study achieved outstanding results, including reduced passenger rejection rates and driver idle time. About RCAIG With a focus on GeoAI, RCAIG is dedicated to conducting research in diverse fields, including urban building and energy, urban safety and security, environmental monitoring and conservation, urban resilience and public health. This aligns with the 11th United Nations Sustainable Development Goal, which aims to create inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable cities and human settlements. Website: Learn more about Prof. Qihao Weng’s research focus in the video:

8 Apr, 2024

Research & Innovation Department of Land Surveying and Geo-Informatics

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PolyU admits 13 outstanding athletes through SALSA Scheme to support their dual-track development in sports and academic pursuits on all fronts

The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) places a strong emphasis on providing holistic education and supports the dual-track development of student-athletes in sports and academic pursuits. This year, PolyU has admitted 13 outstanding athletes through the Student-Athlete Learning Support and Admission Scheme (SALSA) who will embark on their undergraduate studies in the 2024/25 academic year and get prepared for the future. The newly admitted student-athletes have achieved remarkable results representing Hong Kong in international and regional tournaments in sports that include athletics, equestrian, fencing, football, judo, squash, table tennis, triathlon and wushu. They will be enrolled on a wide range of undergraduate programmes, including Applied Social Sciences; English and Applied Linguistics; Nursing; Optometry; Radiography and Physiotherapy. Prof. Kwok-yin WONG, PolyU Vice President (Education), welcomed the 13 student-athletes to the University and said, “PolyU is committed to providing holistic education and encourages students to develop varied abilities. We hope student-athletes are able to apply the determination to go beyond own limits in their academic pursuit as in competition and motivate their PolyU peers to constantly demonstrate excellence.” Hong Kong Premier League player POON Pui Hin, who scored the decisive goal in the men’s quarter-finals of the Asian Games 2023 in Hangzhou and led the Hong Kong team to make a historic run into the semi-finals is admitted to PolyU in the coming academic year. Now focusing on the 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifiers, he believes language-related knowledge and communication skills will propel his career growth, thereby choosing to study English and Applied Linguistics. He said, “Despite the demanding schedule of matches and training, I am confident that I can balance my football career and academic development with the ample support provided by PolyU. I will endeavour to bring glory to Hong Kong once again.” Squash athlete LEUNG Ka Huen, who bagged a silver medal in the girls’ team at the Asian Junior Squash Team Championships last year, will pursue the programme of Physiotherapy. After her experience of competing while injured, she has been drawn to the profession of physiotherapy and is determined to pursue a career in this field. “Knowing the course workload could be heavy, I am grateful for PolyU’s strong support and arrangement of a tutor to provide individualised support to address my needs in learning and other areas. This will enable me to remain focused on training while keeping up with my studies.” Winning a gold medal at the Acropolis International Wushu Open Tournament and a silver medal at the Asian Junior Wushu Championships in the junior boy’s sanda category last year, wushu player TAI Lok Ming aspires to study Applied Social Sciences to become a social worker. He remarked, “I hope to enhance myself through my studies at PolyU, and utilise the knowledge gained from the programme to assist people in need.” PolyU offers a number of scholarships to student-athletes every year, in recognition of their distinguished sporting achievements. Athletes admitted through the Scheme are awarded scholarships of up to HK$400,000. The University also provides them with residential college accommodation to drive their personal growth through hostel life, as well as a series of learning support opportunities including individual mentorship in their academic work, flexibility in learning and study assessments, and extension of study periods.   ***END***

2 Apr, 2024

Teaching & Learning Academic Registrar

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PolyU and Ganzhou sign strategic collaborative framework agreements to deepen research collaboration between Hong Kong and Ganzhou

The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) has partnered with Ganzhou Municipal Government and Xingguo County Government in Jiangxi province to capitalise on their strengthens and promote the high-quality development of the textile industry in Ganzhou and Hong Kong. Prof. Christopher CHAO, PolyU Vice President (Research and Innovation), led a delegation to participate in the “1st China (Ganzhou) Graphene cum Textile and Apparel and New Materials Industry Forum” on 19 March in Xingguo County, Ganzhou. At the event, Prof. Chao signed strategic collaborative framework agreement separately with Mr DOU Liangtan, Member of the Standing Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Ganzhou Municipal Committee and Vice Mayor of Ganzhou, and Mr LIU Zhanghong, Deputy Secretary of Xingguo County Party Committee and County Mayor of Xingguo, for the joint establishment of the PolyU-Xingguo Textiles Technology and Innovation Research Institute (the Institute) to promote in-depth and effective industry-university-research collaboration. The Institute will support the innovative development of the textile industry in Ganzhou and its counties, while creating further opportunities for PolyU in terms of education, research and translation of research into innovative outcomes in the field of textiles. Prof. Christopher Chao said, “By putting efforts into brand building, technology promotion, professional training and talent development, PolyU will make contributions to the advancement of the textile industry and market in Ganzhou and Xingguo County. The solicitation of business and projects will also facilitate investment and further collaborative opportunities. We will both fully leverage our respective strengths and join forces to create a new chapter in the textile industry.” PolyU possesses strong educational and research capabilities in the textiles field, which align with the development needs of Ganzhou’s textile industry in the areas of talent cultivation, research, industrial transformation and upgrading. The collaboration between PolyU, Ganzhou and Xingguo County and the establishment of the Institute will leverage the University’s expertise in talent, technology and research platforms, to support the enduring growth of local textile enterprises. The forum themed on “New Weave of New Graphene” gathered experts from universities, enterprises and industry in the fields of graphene and textiles from all over the country, to discuss research and industrial applications of graphene (also known as the King of New Materials). Dr Shou Dahua, Assistant Professor and Limin Endowed Young Scholar in Advanced Textiles Technologies of PolyU School of Fashion and Textiles introduced his research achievements in textiles and new materials at the Forum. On the same day, the country’s first Graphene Technology Museum was inaugurated in Xingguo County, to serve as a national hub for graphene innovation to translate research outcomes into new productive forces.   ***END***

27 Mar, 2024

Events Research and Innovation Centre


PolyU partners with Yangjiang Offshore Wind Energy Laboratory to establish joint research centre to drive development of offshore wind power technology

The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) and Yangjiang Offshore Wind Energy Laboratory (the Laboratory) signed an agreement to jointly establish the PolyU-Yangjiang Laboratory Joint Research Centre for Offshore Wind Power (JRC). The JRC will be operated and managed jointly by the PolyU Research Institute for Land and Space (RILS) and the Laboratory, signifying an increasingly close research collaboration between the two organisations in offshore wind power technology. Under the new partnership, PolyU and Yangjiang researchers will share resources and laboratory facilities, and join force in research projects on new technologies and materials for offshore wind power applications, as well as translating the research outcomes into practical solutions for industry. The JRC signing ceremony was held on the PolyU campus and attended by a delegation from Yangjiang in Guangdong province together with PolyU representatives. Distinguished guests included Prof. Christopher CHAO, PolyU Vice President (Research and Innovation); Mr LIU Dewei, Vice Mayor of Yangjiang Municipal People’s Government; Prof. DONG Cheng, PolyU Associate Vice President (Mainland Research Advancement); Prof. CHEN Qingyan, Director of the PolyU Academy for Interdisciplinary Research (PAIR); Prof. DING Xiaoli, Director of RILS; Mr MO Jiaqiang, Deputy Director of Yangjiang Science and Technology Bureau; Mr LIN Tao, Deputy Director of Yangjiang Development and Reform Bureau, and Prof. ZHU Ronghua, Director of Yangjiang Offshore Wind Energy Laboratory. In his welcoming remarks, Prof. Christopher Chao said, “Wind power has emerged as a pivotal strategy for many countries to achieve carbon neutrality. The collaboration between PolyU and Yangjiang Offshore Wind Energy Laboratory not only propels the advancement of offshore wind power knowhow, but also fortifies a mutual engagement in research, talent development and knowledge exchange. The JRC will amalgamate the research capabilities and expertise of both organisations to address major scientific challenges and surmount technical barriers in the energy field. This, in turn, will support the development of a world-class research and innovation powerhouse for wind power industry and clean energy.” The Electrical and Mechanical Services Department of the HKSAR Government has estimated that wind power could satisfy approximately one-third of Hong Kong’s electricity demand if the City’s offshore wind energy reaches 10.7 billion kilowatts. The construction of offshore wind turbines often involves technical challenges in engineering design and construction. The collaboration between PolyU and the Laboratory will facilitate interdisciplinary research and the development of practical engineering solutions to benefit Hong Kong, the Nation, and the world in the construction of offshore wind farms. The Laboratory brings together top experts from mainland universities, including Zhejiang University, Sun Yat-sen University, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, South China University of Technology, Nanjing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Guangdong Ocean University and Hebei University of Engineering, to conduct research on fundamental science, as well as applied and core technology in the field of offshore wind power. Established in 2021, RILS is one of PAIR’s 18 constituent research institutes and research centres with over 50 PolyU scholars from different disciplines specialising in interdisciplinary research and knowledge transfer across five major areas: land reclamation; innovative solutions for land and space development; environmental treatment and impact; land economics and planning; and land analysis and management. Offshore wind power is one of the areas which RILS actively pursues. In November 2023, RILS delegates visited wind energy-related laboratories in Yangjiang, including the Yangjiang Offshore Wind Energy Laboratory and met with representatives of the Laboratory for potential research collaboration opportunities.   *** END ***

26 Mar, 2024

Events Research Institute for Land and Space


PolyU research reveals significant effects of instructors onscreen during video classes in aiding student learning

Online learning has become “the new normal” of education since COVID-19 severely disrupted face-to-face teaching activities. Researchers from The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) have conducted a study to analyse whether and how the instructor’s presence in online video lectures affected student learning and learning outcomes. The results reveal that students are more motivated to perform socio-emotional and cognitive processing when an instructor, human or animated, is present onscreen, hence facilitating more effective learning. The study findings have been published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Previous studies have indicated that socio-emotional cues, such as human facial expressions and gestures, help students understand and stay focused on learning content. Led by Prof. Ping LI, Dean of the Faculty of Humanities and Sin Wai Kin Foundation Professor in Humanities and Technology at PolyU, the research team studied how learners respond to virtual learning with different types and levels of interaction by examining multimodal data of students’ learning performance, brain activity and eye movement, as well as the correlation between these measurements. Eighty-one PolyU students participated in the experiment where some of them watched video lectures with a human instructor accompanying the lecture slides, some watched the same video lectures with an animated instructor, and still some watched the lectures with no onscreen instructor and only the lecture slides. This was followed by a set of assessments of how effectively they had learned. Compared with the no-instructor group, students with an onscreen instructor performed significantly better in the post-course assessments, while the exact embodiment of the instructor—real vs animated—did not affect the overall scores. The results provide strong and important evidence that the instructor’s image, human or animated, improves educational outcomes in the virtual setting. The researchers examined the impact of instructor’s image on learning through a combination of functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and eye-movement tracking of the students as they watched the lectures. While students with an instructor performed better, the eye-tracking results, surprisingly, showed that the human instructor may actually distract the students from the slides, as more time was spent by students looking at the slides when the instructor was absent or was an animation. A deeper analysis of the eye-tracking data resolved this contradiction. Crucially, the correlation of eye movements—the extent to which the students shifted their gaze in unison—was higher in instructor-present groups than in the no-instructor group, and better-performing students also displayed more correlated eye movements than the lower performers. This suggests that although an instructor’s image may distract students from the slides, it is also more likely in guiding them to pay attention to the appropriate parts of the onscreen content. In other words, students with an instructor tend to focus on the same places, while those without an instructor are more random in their focus. The fMRI results, which identified the specific brain regions students used most, aligned with the eye-tracking data. Just as their eye movements were synchronised, so did the students with an instructor show greater synchrony in the activity of brain regions crucial for learning, including regions involved in working memory and mentalising. This alignment can be attributed to the higher level of cognitive and socio-emotional processing motivated by the onscreen instructor that served as a social cue. Under this condition, learners follow the visual content in the video more closely, allocate attention more proactively and ultimately learn better. As the data suggest that an onscreen instructor’s image entails both socio-emotional benefits and attentional distraction unrelated to learning, the researchers further propose a trade-off hypothesis suggesting learning outcome depends on whether the benefits can outweigh the costs brought by the distraction. While the trade-off also relies on a learner’s ability to leverage socio-emotional processing and attention control for learning, it explains the individual difference in student learning under the same virtual setting. Prof. Li remarked, “Although the pandemic has subsided, online learning through the use of multimedia instructional videos continues to shape education. Our findings suggest that an onscreen instructor—even an animated one—can make up for some deficits of the online learning setting, where socio-emotional cues are less salient and cognitive engagement is harder to sustain. This contributes to the development of an evidence-based instructional design for multimedia learning, thereby enhancing student’s learning experience and outcome.”   ***END***  

25 Mar, 2024

Research & Innovation Faculty of Humanities

Prof Allen Au and Prof Daniel Luo

PolyU supports HKMA launching ‘Project Ensemble’: a new wholesale central bank digital currency project

The Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) has announced the commencement of Project Ensemble, a new wholesale Central Bank Digital Currency (wCBDC) project to support the development of the tokenisation market in Hong Kong. Since the establishment of the CBDC Expert Group, along with other members, two PolyU professors of the Department of Computing have been closely collaborating with HKMA to examine various aspects of CBDCs and related digital currencies, such as interoperability, security, and privacy. The new project will seek to explore innovative financial market infrastructure (FMI) that will facilitate seamless interbank settlement of tokenised money through wCBDC. The Project will initially focus on tokenised deposits, which are a digital representation of commercial bank deposits, issued and made available by commercial banks. At the core of Project Ensemble is a wCBDC Sandbox that the HKMA will launch this year to further research and test tokenisation use cases including settlement of tokenised real-world assets (e.g. green bonds, carbon credits, aircraft, electric vehicle charging stations, electronic bills of lading and treasury management). This could potentially forge a new FMI that bridges the existing gap between tokenised real-world assets and money in transactions. To help set industry standards and a future-proof strategy, the HKMA will form a wCBDC Architecture Community comprising local and multinational banks, key players in the digital asset industry, technology companies and the CBDC Expert Group. Prof. Allen Man Ho AU and Prof. Daniel Xiapu LUO, Professors of the Department of Computing and founding members of the CBDC Expert Group, have been working in collaboration with HKMA on ongoing projects to advance the development of CBDC in Hong Kong. Their aim is to integrate advanced privacy designs that protect consumers’ personal identifiable information, while maintaining a balance between privacy and traceability. They will maintain close collaboration with HKMA and fellow expert group members, aiming to foster the tokenisation market and draw talents to Hong Kong. Prof. H.C. MAN, Dean of the Faculty of Engineering, said, “This partnership with HKMA is a testament to our commitment to fostering innovation and technological progression, advancing the digital finance landscape in Hong Kong. We are leveraging our expertise to support the launch of this Project Ensemble and look forward to the potential breakthroughs that will, with the introduction of the wCBDC sandbox, shape the digital asset market.” Prof. Qing Li, Head of the Department of Computing, stated, “The exploration of wCBDC and tokenisation of assets is a critical step towards a future-proof financial infrastructure. Our department is pleased to contribute our expertise to this pioneering initiative.” Prof. Allen Au and Prof. Daniel Luo said, “wCBDC and digital assets are a significant step towards the future of finance and FinTech innovation, while the tokenisation of currency and assets is a global trend that we cannot ignore. Through this initiative, we are dedicated to playing a role in fostering the development of a robust digital asset ecosystem in Hong Kong.”   ***END***

19 Mar, 2024

Research & Innovation Department of Computing

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