Innovative CityU scholar elected Fellow of US National Academy of Inventors
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One of the top scientists at City University of Hong Kong (CityU) has been elected Fellow of the US National Academy of Inventors (NAI) in recognition of his highly innovative work in advancing technological and economic developments.
Professor Yan Hong, Wong Chun Hong Professor of Data Engineering and Chair Professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering, will be inducted at the NAI Eleventh Annual Meeting in June 2022.
“This is a great honour for my research group,” said Professor Yan. “It will encourage us to achieve new heights in our interdisciplinary R&D work.”
The team’s research focus requires knowledge in several fields. For example, to analyse cell division, research staff and students need to understand cell biology and genetics in addition to image analysis and software development.
“Academics can and should be on the forefront of scientific research and technological innovation. Our novel theoretical and experimental results can lead to inventions and can be translated into useful real-world applications,” he said.
Professor Yan was trained as an electrical engineer, but much of his work is interdisciplinary and involves computer software and hardware, computer graphics and animation, image and video analysis, mathematics, cell, molecular and structural biology, and cancer medicine.
“Our team has inventions in several interdisciplinary areas, including computer algorithms, portable electronic devices, genomic big data analysis for cancer diagnosis, cell division, and protein-drug complex modeling and analysis,” he said.
Their many real-world applications have received a great deal of attention. Professor Yan won the Best Mobile Entertainment Software Award in Hong Kong for a real-time lip-synchronisation and facial animation system. Subsequently, this system has been licensed to several telecommunications companies for multimedia message services for local and overseas markets.
A current focus of his team is multidimensional data analysis. “We have recently established the Centre for Intelligent Multidimensional Data Analysis (CIMDA) under the InnoHK programme. We’ll study tensor and hypergraph theories for data representation and analysis. I believe a deep understanding of high-order tensors is needed for us to extract hidden patterns in big data,” he said.
Another particular interest at the moment is the development of 3D virtual characters and their facial expressions and motions for digital entertainment, 3D e-commerce, education and training.
“In the past, we have helped industry with multimedia messages services. We’re creating virtual presenters, singers, dancer, and fashion models. They will form important components for providing immersive user experience in the emerging metaverse environment, which is attracting a lot of attention in industry worldwide,” he said.
Professor Yan spoke positively about CityU’s support work for faculty members and the talent on campus for world-class research.
“The University has an excellent environment for innovative research and inventions. CityU’s recent initiative HK Tech 300 is exciting as it can lead to many new ideas, startup companies, and translations of academic research results to competitive high-tech products,” he said.
The NAI Fellows Program highlights “academic inventors who have demonstrated a spirit of innovation in creating or facilitating outstanding inventions that have made a tangible impact on quality of life, economic development and the welfare of society”. Election to NAI Fellow is the highest professional distinction accorded solely to academic inventors.