Cloud, LBS score wins at S'pore IT awards

Singapore Infocomm Technology Federation honors 13 local ICT innovations including market players touting cloud-based offering and indoor positioning system.
Written by Jamie Yap, Contributor on

SINGAPORE--Among this year's honor roll of local ICT innovations recognized by industry body, Singapore Infocomm Technology Federation (SITF), are a cloud-based information management tool aimed at boosting personal productivity and an indoor positioning platform to help build contextual, location-based applications and services for a variety of commercial uses.

Held here Tuesday evening, the association's eponymous SITF Awards 2011 saw a total of 13 winners ranging from startups to corporations, academic and government institutions, recognized for their various ICT innovations.

And for the first time since the awards made its debut in 2008, three new categories were introduced: cloud technology, interactive ideas, and ICT team excellence for marketing and technical support.

Eddie Chau, organizing chairman of SITF Awards 2011, explained that the new categories give recognition to companies that have invested efforts in applying new technologies to bring their business to new heights.

Replicating desktop experience to cloud
Software and services company m9 Tech Solutions bagged the cloud technology award for its flagship product, Oystor, a cloud-based information management software.

Named to symbolize storage and how oysters protect precious pearls, Oystor was launched in June this year and has about 2,700 registered users to date, said Ashok Vasan, founder and CEO of m9 Tech Solutions. The company was founded last year.

The application allows users to create an account--each allocated 2GB of free storage--which they use to upload their documents, bring in contacts from other accounts such as e-mail, and set "very stringent rights management controls" when sharing documents with others, Vasan said in a phone interview. For example, users can determine whether a file should be allowed for viewing only but not download, or set the time limit a document is available online for viewing.

He added that the software can be used for business purposes such as connecting with one's insurance and property agents, tax accountants and doctors.

The idea behind Oystor, according to Vasan, emerged from the desire to resolve a personal problem he had faced. Having moved around various countries for work prior to Singapore, the volume of his online and physical documents--from tax and insurance forms to medical records--was increasing. The information was also sitting in multiple formats and locations.

This made finding, retrieving and organizing information a huge, time-consuming issue and affected his productivity, he pointed out. He also soon realized that this issue of managing the supply chain of documents was relevant to small and midsize businesses, and not just individuals. Hence, Oystor was conceptualized.

Ultimately, the software seeks to replicate the desktop experience on the cloud and therein, lies a challenge, Vasan noted.

"Right now, I can type a word document and save it in the desktop. I can also drag and drop. People are used to doing that on the desktop. Putting this concept onto the cloud is an architectural challenge because [cloud computing] technology is still evolving," he said.

Asked if Oystor was conceived to tap the growing cloud storage market, he replied that the product is "not just about online storage, but [providing] an end-to-end requirement" that allows people to be more productive and efficient in managing their personal information.

Opportunities go indoors
The winner of SITF Awards' startup category, YFind Technologies, offers an indoor-positioning platform upon which applications can be built, allowing navigation and tracking within indoor environments. The technology is able to track the location of individuals who are indoors or in a building.

The YFind Positioning System (YPS), for instance, can be integrated into location-based advertising for marketing campaigns or footfall analytics.

Melvin Yuan, co-founder of YFind Technologies, which was founded a year ago, told ZDNet Asia in an e-mail that YPS was in development for about 18 months before it could achieve accurate readings. The system is currently working towards deployment by a couple of building owners, he said.

"Businesses want to powerfully engage customers through location-based services and understand how customers behave in buildings, but one barrier is the lack of precise indoor positioning," Yuan said. "Hence YFind Positioning System creates the environment needed for such innovation to take place."

He explained that an airport may utilize YPS to help push location-based information and services to customers within huge passenger terminals, while a museum can identify the most-visited exhibits and measure the average time a visitor spends at each exhibit.

"Indoor is where there is most opportunity," he said. "The future is in mega cities and there are compelling statistics that show people are moving to the big cities."

SiTF Awards 2011 winners

  1. Cloud Technology: m9 Tech Solutions
  2. Digital Media: SingTel Idea Factory
  3. E-Enterprise: SMRT Corporation
  4. E-Government: Integrated Health Information Systems
  5. Emerging Technology: Argentra
  6. Interactive Ideas: Dr. Dana Elliott Srither
  7. Mobile Applications: Multimedia Centre, Singapore Press Holdings
  8. Startup: YFind Technologies
  9. Primary Student: Tampines Primary School
  10. Secondary Student: Crescent Girls School
  11. Tertiary Student: Singapore Polytechnic, School of Digital Media and Infocomm Technology
  12. ICT Team Excellence - Technical Support: Tata Consultancy Services
  13. ICT Team Excellence - Marketing: Smoov
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