Sensors to accelerate M'sian agriculture growth

Sensor grid technology will be introduced in a pilot project to be implemented in Malaysia's Northern Corridor Economic Region in phases next year.

KUALA LUMPUR--The local agricultural industry could benefit from the introduction of sensor grid technology expected to be implemented in phases in the coming year.

A pilot project, jointly developed by the government’s applied research agency Mimos and software giant Oracle Corporation, is at the threshold of being implemented in the Northern Corridor Economic Region (NCER).

Launched in 2007, the NCER is the government’s initiative to accelerate economic growth and elevate income levels for four northern states in Malaysia.

Mimos president and CEO Abdul Wahab Abdullah told the media at the signing of a memorandum of understanding between the two companies Monday that Mimos planned to utilize Oracle grid-based database and middleware technology in tandem with precision Micro-Electro-Mechanical System (Mems) sensors developed by Mimos.

“The commercial potential for an agricultural grid solution--a key generator for economic growth--is tremendous in Malaysia,” said Wahab.

Wahab noted that Oracle’s grid-based technology will be used to conduct real-time collection, storage and processing of information from 3,000 Mems sensors.

The information gathered, he noted, will be used to develop applications including real-time crop monitoring and analysis as well as proactive and preventive care solutions for the agriculture industry.

Wahab said the pilot project, currently hosted in University Putra Malaysia (UPM), is ready to go into the beta testing stage. UPM is one of Malaysia’s foremost research universities in the agriculture field.

“We are about to implement beta testing with an agricultural-based company by the second quarter of this year,” he said. He declined to reveal any implementation details.

Wahab also said that Mimos will ensure that the solution, when implemented, will have the economic scale and affordability so that a continuum of agricultural players--large or small--can benefit from its technology.

“At first, we will begin implementing the solution with companies which are larger and are ready to use such a technology,” said Wahab. “[But] eventually, as we refine the solution, smaller-scale players will also benefit [from this technology].”

Wahab said there are currently no plans to export this technology abroad. “We want to develop the indigenous industry first and work with local players which have the domain expertise before taking it to the next level.”

Asked what other applications could be developed from the collaboration, he said: “The sensor grid technology can be used to monitor soil erosion, environmental and habitat changes, and even act as safety monitors for bridges, buildings and roads.”

Edwin Yapp is a freelance IT writer based in Malaysia.