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Young ICT achievers aim for upgraded version of society

This year’s three winners of the Outstanding Youth ICT Achiever Awards share a common dedication to hard work, excellence and improving society through technology.

The youngest winner is possibly also the most well known. When Stark Chan Yik-hei’s domestic security robot won an engineering award at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair in 2004, an asteroid was subsequently named after him.

He was dubbed “son of the star” in local media and published a best-selling autobiography in 2006.

At 22, Chan is currently CEO of a mobile-application-development company, Bull-B. He set-up the company shortly after graduating from the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.

“I was very happy when I learned about the award. I am thankful that Hong Kong has organisations such as the Hong Kong Computer Society that recognise those in the ICT industry who are doing their best,” Chan says.

Chan discussed his company’s two core products: iPad Menu and Wedding App.

“Our idea is to use the iPad to replace paper menus. Most restaurant chains update their menus every two months. Before, they had to coordinate with the designers and printers, and they wasted a lot of paper in the process. Using our iPad Menu, they can go to our content-management-system website, change the information, and all their menus in different restaurants will be updated,” Chan explains.

While other menus that use iPads are merely PDF files, Chan’s application allows customers to place orders by pressing on images on the tablet’s screen. “It is an interactive menu,” he says.

The Wedding App helps people share their wedding photos. “Wedding guests usually take a lot of photos but it is difficult to get them to share the pictures. When a couple who is to be married installs our Wedding App, they can create their wedding event in the app and get a QR code. This code can then be included in the wedding invitations. Guests can then download the application and whenever they take a photo using the application, the pictures will be automatically shared,” Chan says.

Bull-B also provides custom mobile-app development services. “I want to make things that can affect human lives and benefit people in our society,” Chan says.

Jordan Cheng Man-fai, the second winner, is no stranger to awards. While an information engineering student at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, he regularly participated in ICT competitions, with good results. By the time he finished his degree, he had already won 12 awards.

Currently a lecturer in the Department of Electronic and Information Engineering at the Hong Kong Institute of Vocational Education, Cheng continues to be active in ICT competitions, but now as a coach. His students have won 25 awards to date.

But Cheng considers his Outstanding ICT Achiever Award – awarded to veterans who have made significant contributions to the ICT industry – as his most precious achievement. “Previously I only won in competitions. This award is more important because it is the highest prize in the ICT field,” he says.

In addition to his lecturing post, Cheng is a Nokia Developer Champion and a consultant for SmarTone Macau and technology companies at the Hong Kong Science Park. He is also the chairman of the VTC Engineering Discipline Alumni Association and the youngest council member of the Hong Kong Association for the Advancement of Science and Technology.

His long-term goal is to start his own business. “I want to develop innovative applications. I always ask myself why we don’t have someone like Steve Jobs or something like Facebook [in Hong Kong]. I’ll try my best to do something about that in the future,” says Cheng.

The third Young ICT Achiever Award winner, Dr Jacky Ting Siu-lun, has spent the last six years exploring radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology applications in health-care management, enhanced learning and other socially beneficial purposes.

“I’ve worked on projects that apply RFID technology in different areas to help improve living standards and patient care,” says Ting, who earned his PhD in medical informatics and data mining from the Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU).

In 2006 Ting placed first runner-up at the Microsoft Imagine Cup for applying RFID technology to pet identification. The following year, he topped the same competition for his RFID-aided learning system.

Two years later, Ting’s mobile-fortune-telling application won a gold award in the Application Development Proposal category of the ICT Innovation Competition during the World Telecommunication and Information Society Day. More recently, he was declared champion of the Innovative Ideas Presentation division of the Design for Elderly Competition 2012.

Ting regularly shares his knowledge with his peers. He has so far published 26 ICT-related international journal papers and presented at 12 international conferences in countries including South Korea and Japan.

Ting, 27, joined PCCW Solutions as a systems specialist last year. “We do projects that are similar to what I’ve done in my research studies such as RFID and health-care information systems. I’m also engaged in projects involving cloud computing,” he says.

Ting is also a guest lecturer at PolyU and a non-paid senior consultant for Humphrey & Partners Medical Services.

For his impressive achievements, Ting shares credit with everyone in the ICT industry. “They are my heroes because they create many new things. I think all the people working in the ICT industry are creative and innovative,” he says.

“In most of my projects, I applied RFID technology because of the many ways the technology can be used to help society. I try to observe the environment around me and think of ways to improve it using technology,” he adds.