ASTRI Establishes the ConTech and PropTech Alliance

HONG KONG, July 8, 2024 — (PRNewswire) — The Hong Kong Applied Science and Technology Research Institute (ASTRI) organised the inauguration ceremony for the "ConTech and PropTech Alliance" today. This initiative aims to promote the adoption of advanced technologies and solutions to enhance construction efficiency, quality, and safety, thereby accelerating industry development. The ceremony was officiated by Ms Winnie Ho, Secretary for Housing of the HKSAR Government, along with Ir Sunny Lee, Chairman of ASTRI and Dr Denis Yip, Chief Executive Officer of ASTRI. 

Enhance Speed, Efficiency, Quantity and Quality

Reaffirming the commitment to advancing smart construction through technology, Ms Winnie Ho expressed hope for transforming industry challenges into opportunities for cross-sector collaboration between technology and construction. She highlighted the HKSAR Government's proactive integration of innovative technologies into the construction and management of public housing for better well-being of residents. "We are collaborating with various organisations, including ASTRI, to research technologies that can further enhance 'Modular Integrated Construction' (MiC) and 'Multi-trade Integrated Mechanical, Electrical and Plumbing' (MiMEP) methods, achieving the goals of 'enhancing speed, efficiency, quantity and quality' in public housing development."

She added that ASTRI's ConTech and PropTech Alliance, brings together representatives from universities, research institutes and the industry, fostering innovation and collaboration among these sectors, and encouraging industry upgrades and transformation through cutting-edge technology integration.

Develop "New Quality Productive Forces" in Construction Industry

Ir Sunny Lee noted that the construction and real estate sector is one of the pillars of Hong Kong's economy, contributing significantly to local GDP. The industry's expertise in building high-quality and high-density structures is widely-recognised, demonstrating top-notch professionalism. Nonetheless, the sector has been facing numerous challenges in recent years, including high construction costs, an aging workforce, and frequent accidents.

He stated, "We are confident that advanced innovative technologies can help the industry change the status quo, effectively reduce construction costs, improve efficiency, and enhance site safety, expediting the construction industry's development of 'New Quality Productive Forces'. With major projects estimated to cost HK$300 billion per year over the next decade, the industry can seize high-growth opportunities by leveraging technologies to boost productivity and capability."

Alliance Promotes Smart Construction 
Dr Denis Yip underscored that the Alliance is creating a comprehensive ecosystem that includes representatives from government and regulatory bodies, academic and research institutions, construction industry stakeholders, real estate market participants, technology providers and industry organisations.  This robust ecosystem aims to revolutionalise traditional construction and property management processes, enhance construction efficiency and safety, and support Hong Kong's progression towards becoming a smart city.

Dr Yip commented, "ASTRI is committed to developing 'Deep Tech for Smart Solutions'. Our construction technologies are highly developed, and we have collaborated with various government departments and public and private organisations, including the Housing Bureau and MTR Corporation. Many of our technologies are already being applied in the field." ASTRI has just inked a collaboration agreement with the Hong Kong Housing Society (HKIS) and Hip Hing Construction. Under the agreement, Hip Hing Construction will implement ASTRI's innovative technologies in HKIS's projects to enhance efficiency and safety.

ASTRI's key technologies for the construction and real estate industries include:

  • Site safety – Construction sites in Hong Kong often have limited workspace. ASTRI has developed a solution incorporating passive cooling and edge AI technology, coupled with multiple camera lenses, to identify hazardous areas, issue warnings, detect abnormal motions, and prevent collisions. Additionally, the world's first neuromorphic sensing-based site safety monitoring system has been deployed in a trial run in Hong Kong. This pioneering initiative aims to revolutionise confined space access management in construction sites, significantly improving overall construction safety management.
  • Crane Safety – ASTRI has developed solutions focusing on both operators and machinery to ensure proper crane operation. The system tracks head movements, analyses body posture and facial conditions, and monitors heart rate to determine if an operator is overly fatigued.  Additionally, ASTRI deploys Fibre Bragg Grating (FBG) sensor technology, which is highly sensitive to temperature and pressure, to detect and alert metal frame abnormalities (such as structural and mechanical deformation) in real-time. Moreover, we've developed the world's first real time intrusion alert system for long-distance and extreme environments with tracking capabilities. This system can collect and analyse real-time dynamic visual and visualisation data to enhance safety monitoring in extreme environments.
  • MiC Positioning – A Smart Optical Sensing System has been developed for High Precision Modular Integrated Construction (MiC) Positioning. With its unique non-Visible Light Communication (nVLC) approach and neuromorphic sensing integrated optical structure, the system is able to provide millimetre-level precision positioning from hundreds of meters away. This technology offers an effective solution to enhance operational efficiency in MiC positioning and alignment, leveraging digital twin technology to overcome visibility limitations for operators and improve safety within the lifting zone. It can perform under extreme environments, minimises physically demanding tasks for human and enhances site safety.
  • Mixed Reality Helmet – ASTRI has developed a Modularised Emerging Sensing and Display Technology (M-ESDT) based Turnkey Solution. This solution includes Augmented Reality (AR), Artificial Intelligence (AI), Building Information Modelling (BIM), and Metaverse technologies. It encompasses key devices (micro-displays), optical modules/ systems, software development tools, and content generation capabilities suitable for education, simulation, training, and operation assistance. Currently, AR or VR devices contain a small internal computer. With 5G moving that computing power to the cloud, head-mounted devices will become lighter and less expensive while offering enhanced functionality. Without the limitations of onboard computing elements, the possibilities for these devices become nearly limitless.
  • Universal AI Predictive Maintenance System for Lifts – Leveraging IoT data to analyse and develop an AI system capable of predicting lift breakdown patterns, this AI Predictive Maintenance System is compatible with lifts from various manufacturers. Lift downtime is reduced by enabling more efficient on-site maintenance checks through remote, real-time monitoring and accurate breakdown prediction, enhancing the quality of property management services.

Industry Leaders Share Insights

Two panel discussion sessions were held at the meeting, inviting industry leaders and experts to share insights on construction safety and sustainability, as well as the future of PropTech innovation.

The first session, titled "Building Safety and Sustainability: Harnessing the Power of ConTech and PropTech" was moderated by Mr Wilfred Wong, Board Member of ASTRI. Panellists included: Dr Sherman Yip, Assistant Director (Development & Procurement), Housing Department;  Ir Franco Cheung, Director (Projects), Hong Kong Housing Society; Mr Alex Ho, Director (Industry Development), Construction Industry Council; Professor Anthony Yeh, Acting Dean, Faculty of Architecture & Chair Professor, Department of Urban Planning and Design, The University of Hong Kong, and Ms Natasha Ho, President, China Real Estate Chamber of Commerce Hong Kong and International Chapter (CRECCHKI).

The second session, "The Way Forward: Hong Kong PropTech Innovation and Market Outlook", was hosted by Ir Andrew Young, Associate Director (Innovation), Sino Group and Co-chair, Hong Kong PropTech Alliance.  Speakers include Mr Kent Jan , Director & Head of Digital Transformation & Innovation, Hongkong Land and Co-chair, Hong Kong PropTech Alliance; Mr Ben Fung , Senior Associate Director (Information Technology and Solutions), Chinachem Group , and Ms Akina Ho , Venture Partner, Asia for Pi Labs.

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