New hub gives firms taste of artificial intelligence

At the SenseTime International AI Innovation Hub, visitors can take photos with an augmented reality simulation of the Merlion and Marina Bay Sands. PHOTO: SENSETIME INTERNATIONAL

SINGAPORE - A facility offering immersive experiences with artificial intelligence was launched on Monday (July 19) to encourage firms to experiment with and develop AI innovations for their businesses.

Hong Kong-based AI company SenseTime also announced partnerships with Business China and the Institute of Technical Education (ITE) to nurture talent in the field through internships and contributions to teaching curriculum.

The SenseTime International AI Innovation Hub, a "living lab" open to businesses and its partners, features eight zones that showcase real-world AI applications in industries such as education, healthcare and entertainment.

Visitors can take photos with an augmented reality simulation of the Merlion and Marina Bay Sands, try on digital make-up, and use hand gestures to control a fan - applications that have relevance to industries such as tourism and retail.

Noting that Singapore had tremendous growth potential to become the centre for AI innovation in the region, Dr Xu Li, co-founder and chief executive officer of SenseTime, said: "We hope to bring more original innovation and responsible AI technologies to accelerate South-east Asia's digital economy."

SenseTime established regional headquarters in Singapore in 2018.

Minister of State for Education Sun Xueling, the guest of honour at the event, said: "Recent developments propelled by Covid-19 have highlighted the pressing need for the digital transformation of economies, as well as the importance of pursuing sustainable innovation."

Aspiring students of AI will also get a leg up through the partnerships created on Monday.

SenseTime and Business China, a non-profit spearheaded by the Government and the Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce, will jointly provide internship and international exchange opportunities for young people.

SenseTime will join the Youth Interns Exchange Scheme (YES) to offer internships to tertiary students at its offices in China and Singapore. Launched last year, YES is a bilateral internship exchange scheme that aims to enhance interaction, understanding and cooperation between Singapore and China.

Ms Tin Pei Ling, chief executive officer at Business China, said: "It's important that our young people are exposed to different cultures and operating environments, and go beyond the textbook to immerse themselves."

With ITE, SenseTime will provide its education curriculum - with more than 250 hours of online project-based training courses -and train ITE educators to teach students to develop AI algorithms.

At a panel discussion about the role of AI education in future-proofing Singaporeans that was part of the event, ITE chief executive Low Khah Gek said: "Young people are open to new technology, and they take it up naturally. Our challenge is that we need educators to be familiar with AI skills and solutions."

Additionally, SenseTime will attach ITE students with its partners to work on AI projects, and work with ITE to develop training programmes in computer vision and smart cities for adult learners.

Mr Kiren Kumar, deputy chief executive at the Infocomm Media Development Authority, who was part of the panel, said: "The need and demand for AI skills has accelerated dramatically. What we have achieved in the last two years is probably more than that in the last five years combined."

He added that while this trend can be attributed in part to the Covid-19 pandemic, it is here to stay.

The panel discussion was moderated by Mr Ryan Huang, producer and presenter at MONEY FM 89.3.

Speaking to reporters, managing director at SenseTime International Martin Huang urged people to embrace AI. "AI relieves people from repeating boring work in exhausting environments... that reduces their innovation and energy. From this perspective, I don't see anything bad about AI."

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