Trade fair kicks off Thursday featuring Taiwan innovations

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President Tsai Ing-wen at Futex Taipei 2019. (Flickr photo)

President Tsai Ing-wen at Futex Taipei 2019. (Flickr photo)

Futex Taipei 2019, an annual high-tech trade fair, kicked off on Thursday (Dec. 5) showcasing over 80 innovations Taiwan hopes will place it in a leadership position with future technologies, according to the organizers.

The four-day Futex Taipei 2019, organized by the Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST) opened at Taipei World Trade Center that day and will run until Sunday, showcasing 88 breakthrough innovative technologies.

One of the innovations that drew most visitors was a smart baseball prototype that is able to detect the pressure and position of a pitcher's fingers.

The baseball, which is in its second year of development by a research team led by Shih Huang-chia (施皇嘉), a professor at Yuan Ze University in Taoyuan, can record how professional pitchers exert force on specific parts of the ball to provide a set of data that beginners can study when learning how to pitch.

"So we can record data from professional pitchers and then learners can compare that to their own data and see how they can also throw a successful curve ball," Ho Kok Hong, Shih's assistant, told CNA.

Another popular innovation at the trade show is a smart evacuation system that guides people to safety during natural disasters.

Liu Chih-hao (劉致灝), an assistant research fellow at the National Science and Technology Center for Disaster Reduction's Information Division, said the system can be used through the popular social communication app Line and helps evacuate people to the closest safe shelter based on their specific needs.

"For example, you may have pets or you may need to breastfeed your baby when you reach the shelter, so after answering a few simple yes and no questions, the system will guide you to the most suitable shelter based on your needs," Liu said.

Science and Technology Minister Chen Liang-gee (陳良基), said at the opening ceremony that the trade show exhibits advances made by leading academics and laboratories that will help Taiwan remain a leader in innovation and boost its competitive edge.

"Futex Taipei does not just exhibit innovations, it also shows that the government and society support the scientific dreams of our young people," Chen said.

About 100,000 visitors are expected to attend the show, after recording 50,000 last year and 20,000 the year before, he added.