CIIT R & D Lab-testing Equipment
About R&D Lab
We at R&D lab define ourselves as Application specific technologists and scientists. All our projects and activities are primarily driven towards application of technology and not simply performing 'blue-sky research'. Our areas of interest range from industrial automation to cutting-edge technological applications.
We endeavor in business-to-business markets. We sit with our clients, understand their issues, and prepare solutions specific to their problems. Innovative, low-cost and high value designs are the hallmarks of our solutions.
We are generalists in our approach. As our projects require many diverse skills, we engage highly qualified and experienced personnel with a wide variety of skills. These participants belong to a wide spectrum of disciplines.
We have developed about a dozen interesting technologies and products in our lab. All of them are ripe for commercial applications. We also issue a mixture of exclusive, co-exclusive and non-exclusive licenses, based on the complexity of the technologies we have developed.
Publications in 2010-2011
- "Solar energy - concepts and education", - Keynote address, November 2010, International conference on Renewable energy, organized by IIU, Islamabad.
- "Indigenization : The future strategy for third world countries", 2nd International Conference - ( Nurturing Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Investments in a Post Financial Crisis Environment), South Asian International Conference, SAICON AGBA South Asian Chapter, Bhurban, Pakistan, July 2010
- "Application of Fresnel concentrators for domestic cooking using heat stored in therminol 72”- SolarPACES 2011 -an Annual Symposium in concentrating solar power and chemical energy systems, Grenada, Spain
- "Solar thermal energy - the best green energy solution for Pakistan”- International conference on Green energy, Abottabad, 2010
Our Products (Along with Pictures)
ELECTRONIC VOTING MACHINE
The government of Pakistan is interested in introducing electronic voting machines(EVM) in the next elections.
India has already introduced voting machines in its electoral process. Voting machines offer manifold benefits, transparency and enhanced efficiency being on the top of the list.
Election Commission of Pakistan ( ECP ) is introducing revolutionary reforms in its processes to curb election rigging or engineering. Major riggings take place at four points; voter identification , vote casting, vote counting and result transmission. Many are aware that NADRA has been charged with the task of cleaning the polling lists. This has resulted in erasing of about 35 million votes from the previous polling list. What NADRA is doing now means one person- one id card- one vote. Moreover the polling lists published in upcoming elections would also contain the pictures of the registered voters. This means that no one can use someone else's ID card and cast a vote. This also means that no one will be able to show up in the polling station with 100 ID cards in his pocket and cast 100 votes. So this takes care of the first level of rigging- voter identification.
Once the voter has been correctly identified, its time to cast the vote. This is where EVM comes in. The EVM is being designed such that one person would be able to cast one vote only, after which the machine will be locked and the presiding officer will have to enable the machine using the activation key before it can be used again. This will bring an end to the 'Ballot stuffing'- another form of election rigging in which the voter would go behind a secrecy screen, and without anyone seeing, would insert multiple ballot sheets in the ballot box. EVMs make that impossible. Moreover every person now has to cast his/her own vote.
This will bring an end to another form of rigging. It was observed that in some areas, voters would come under heavy pressure from influential candidates. In order to ensure their loyalty to those candidates, the voters would cast empty sheets in the ballot box and come out of the polling station with registered ballot paper, and hand it over to the candidate's agents. These agents would then themselves stamp the ballot paper and send other registered voters in the polling station to cast multiple votes. But though EVM every person will have to cast his/her own vote.
Furthermore, EVM counts the votes electronically. This means if the election is over at 5.00 pm, the results will be displayed locally and the whole result will be announced within a matter of five minutes. This will bring an end to possible fraud during ballot counting. Traditionally 5 to 6 hours were spent counting the votes. And many objections were raised on the people counting the votes. Additionally, Election commission would have to hire and pay people who were responsible for counting. Now the machines will count automatically and display the result upon clicks of a button.
Research & Development Lab at COMSATS Institute of Information Technology has also submitted a proposal for EVM solution to the Election Commission of Pakistan. Not only it is a comprehensive solution, but the lowest cost offered as compared to foreign vendors makes CIIT the ideal candidate.
CIIT's EVM supports 128 candidates simultaneously. It runs for up to 18 hours on car battery. The results are stored even when the power is lost. It works under humid conditions and harsh climates. Moreover CIIT has also offered multiple supporting, value added services (VAS) along with its EVM. CIIT's election solution is named "Intikhaab Pakistan", with the theme- "Made in Pakistan- Made for Pakistan". It is the lowest cost machine. The foreign companies have also offered their solution, with prices as high as USD 1200 per machine. ECP requires 200,000 machines in 2012 elections. This means a total cost of USD 240 million. CIIT on the other hand has offered a price of USD 300. Which means a total cost of merely USD 60 million. If CIIT's solution is accepted, not only will this bring down the initial cost four times, it will save a foreign exchange of USD 180 million. But this is just the tip of the ice berg.
ECP will require a comprehensive solution at all its district headquarters to program and configure all machines before each election. Where other companies will see this as a revenue earning opportunity, CIIT has offered this solution totally free of cost. Its named "Tanzeem", aimed at synchronizing the flow of information before, during and after the elections.
Health and integrity of EVMs can be a major issue. In India, vendors have come under heavy fire due to allegations of machine hacking. ECP can also face similar situation. To help ECP avoid any such problem, CIIT has offered "Ehtisaab Units", again totally free of cost. These gadgets will carry out the hardware and software testing of all EVMs before and after the elections. In short, it will help perform an audit of the election process hence ensuring the transparency of the process.
Moreover, CIIT has offered Voter Authentication and Identification System, titled "Shanakht Pakistan". This is an electronic solution, performs voter identification using finger prints and reading NADRA-based ID cards . CIIT has also offered a GSM based result transmission solution, titled "BaaKhabar Pakistan". This solution enables the transfer of polling results from all over the country upon the click of a button which means if the polling ends at 5.00 pm, ECP will have received entire nation's election results by 5.15 pm.
But the real benefit lies in CIIT's initiative named "Baslaahiyat Commission". EVMs have a life of 20 years. Which means at least 4 national and provincial elections will be conducted using EVMs. When the machines are not being used, they have to be stored safely and properly in warehouses. When the machines are in the field on election day, a fleet of about 1250 technical support staff (10 technicians per district) will be needed to operate them. So CIIT views EVM deal not as a product only. It’s a product as well as a process. Therefore CIIT has stepped out of the traditional paradigm, and offered to maintain, store and operate the EVMs all throughout their life span. ECP has a current staff of about 1800. If the EVMs are purchased from foreign vendors, ECP will have to almost double its current staff in order to store and operate its machines. Partnering with CIIT means simply writing a letter for support to the institution one month prior to the elections. CIIT would then cull its top talented IT students, train them, deploy them in the field and dismantle this workforce after the elections have ended and the machines are withdrawn from the field. This will translate into colossal savings for the ECP.
In short, if CIIT is given this contract, it will result in foreign exchange savings of USD180 million at the time of initial costs, and about USD 400 million savings over 20 years life of the EVMs. Moreover this technology will be indigenously developed, resulting in employment opportunities for Pakistani engineers, programmers and technicians. Additionally, CIIT will be in a position to sell this solution globally. India has already done that. First it developed and deployed the EVM technology locally and now it’s selling the EVM solution internationally. A similar approach will open up numerous possibilities for Pakistani talent.
OPTICAL MARK READER
Objective examinations are becoming a popular and accepted means of testing. In objective exams, the students select answers from a set of alternatives or provide the answer in the form of simply a True or a False. Other forms of objective exams include matching and sentence completion. They are particularly useful when the group to be tested is very large, and thus highly reliable test scores are required.
Objective exams offer a multitude of advantages over traditional subjective exams, including but not limited to:
- Impartiality /fairness of evaluation
- Speedy reporting
- Efficient to mark
- Provide consistency in marking
- Reduced need for cross-checking among assessment teams
- Cover a broad range of syllabus
- Can be automated
Many institutions, boards, universities plan to move towards automated objective exams marking system. Recommendations from UNESCO and SAARC also suggest increased stress on objective -based examinations. Following the SAARC conference in 2004, R&D Lab at COMSATS Institute of Information Technology, Islamabad, began developing its version of OMR (Optical Mark Scanner).
OMR is a kind of input device which reads written marks on paper by optical reflection. It has three main sub-units, including a paper feeding unit, a photoelectric conversion unit and a stacking unit for storing scanned papers.OMR is used worldwide to automatically read the answer sheets for objective-type examinations. The reason it has not been able to penetrate Pakistani market so far is its high set-up cost . The cheapest one available in the market is as expensive as PKR 450,000 per unit. Moreover the main reason remains the lack of proper maintenance. Because these units are imported, the vendors are incapable to offer any sort of intricate maintenance service. So even though some institutions have attempted to install this technology, most of the OMRs sit dormant, waiting for proper maintenance.
R&D lab takes pride in its OMR, named COMSCAN. It has been developed totally indigenously after a rigorous effort spanning six years. The result is the world's fastest OMR- scanning up to 600 pages in one single minute. Current world record speed is 250 pages I one minute. R&D lab has filed for a patent on this invention.
Besides being high speed, COMSCAN will be available at 1/3rd price as compared to its competitors. Moreover CIIT will offer a 2 year warranty and maintenance services on COMSCAN. R&D lab is now working on producing slower and more economical versions of COMSCAN. The vision is to make OMR scanners available for every single university and school in Pakistan. R&D team is currently in negotiations with a Pakistani group of colleges, planning to install OMRs in 150 colleges across the country. Once this project is completed successfully, the potential for nationwide installation shall be unearthed.
Along with its low cost OMR scanner and its maintenance, CIIT will also offer the software required for this gadget and application to run. Once a full grip is attained on this technology, R&D team plans to launch this product globally. Our toughest competition will be with our Chinese counterparts. And our price offering is already 1/3rd of theirs. There is a growing need for this product in Europe, USA and Asia-Pacific. By succeeding in this product, CIIT hopes to spread this highly useful and reliable technology in Pakistan, save foreign exchange, create value-adding jobs indigenously and earn foreign exchange for the country.
LED STREET LIGHTS
Light Emitting Diode (LED) Street lights have gained significant attention in recent years due to reduced power consumption and longer life. Typically LED lamps bring down the power consumption up to 70% as compared to regular HPS lamps. Secondly, where HPS lamps need to be replaced every two to three years, LED lamps last up to 12 years.
Research and Development Lab at COMSATS Institute of Information Technology has designed the LED using an innovative approach, which brings down the power consumption to as much as 85%. Moreover the life of LED Lamps is extended from 12 to about 18 years.
Typically LED lamps run on DC voltage, whereas the power supplied is AC voltage. This results in 10% to 30% losses. CIIT's design runs directly on AC voltage. Moreover another innovative approach results in decreased voltage pressure on LEDs and hence a longer life. Additionally , CIIT's LED lamps have the capability of running on high power and lower power mode. This means that municipalities will have the capability to run the lamps in full power mode at rush hours and to operate them on low power mode at late night, when the traffic is very light. Presently the municipalities rely on turning on alternative street lights to save power. They completely turn off the lights in some areas while keeping the other ones alight and do this alternatively. CIIT's offer will ensure that all street lights stay on while maintaining a low power consumption.
This will make the solution very much cost-effective in shorter as well as longer run. Currently German, Italian and South Korean LED street lamps cost PKR 60,000 a unit. Chinese LED street lamp costs PHR 10,000 a unit. CIIT's LED lamp with be priced at PKR 7,000 a unit, while maintaining similar quality standards. The payback period will be one year. Islamabad, which is a city of relatively smaller size, has an annual street light bill of PKR 1.3 billion. An 85% power saving means an annual saving of PKR 1.105 billion and a bill of merely PKR 0.195 billion. Furthermore a longer LED lamp life means drastic reductions in maintenance costs. The reader can well imagine the savings this solution could offer if CIIT developed LED Street lamps are installed in bigger cities such as Karachi and Lahore. Finally, reduced power consumption by street lights means additional power available for industry and other productive requirements.
CIIT is currently in talks with multiple municipalities and housing societies in Pakistan as well as AJK. If CIIT is allowed to develop and deploy this technology indigenously, than this would mean massive savings in foreign exchange, employment opportunities for local engineers and technicians, indigenous development and maturity of technology and possibilities to enter the international market with innovative, low cost, high quality designs.
Domestic Cooking and Water heating using solar energy
Recently many attempts have been made to harness solar energy to bring it to meet domestic power requirements. Many experiments have been made in which solar energy is used for domestic cooking. One of the main reasons why this system has not been able to penetrate deep into the market is that the user has to stand in scorching sunlight and then only it can be used. Moreover it is effective only when the sun is up and shining.
Research and Development lab at COMSATS Institute of Information Technology has developed a system that uses solar energy for domestic cooking and water heating. The user does not have to stand in the sun and the heat can be provided inside the kitchens.
This is done using Fresnel mirror concentrators. Each concentrator consists of 60 mirror strips each. Using a microprocessor based system, these strips track sun electronically.. These mirrors concentrate solar radiation on a linear absorber. The absorber consists of semi-concentric stainless steel pipes, with blackened inner surface. The space between the innermost pipe and the middle pipe is filled with circulating oil. Through careful insulation, the temperature of the oil rises as high as 350º C.
This system will be attached with a flow control system which will in turn be connected with the cooking range and water geezer. It provides a temperature of 250º C and above which is sufficient for domestic cooking , roasting and more than sufficient for water heating. The heated oil will be stored in a stainless steel container so that the system continues to provide heat even after the sun sets.
This was the domestic application of this system- cooking, water and space heating. The R&D team has plans to offer this solution to the industry as well. As temperatures as high as 350º C have been achieved, the team plans to generate steam through this system. Now the steam is required in more than 25 industries including textile, leather ternaries, rubber, plastic, chemical , food and beverages, tobacco, paper making, surgical instrument's sterilization, etc. If a turbine is attached with the steam outlet, this system will generate electricity. If an absorption cooling system is coupled with this system, it can provide space cooling, hence massively reducing load on electricity and gas suppliers.
With an annual maintenance charges of 5% , this system a life of 25 years and a payback period of 2 years. With electricity prices rising constantly, the Profitability index of the system over a 25 years’ time period is manifold. The design team is presenting the results of their research at SolarPaces conference at Grenada, Spain this year and hoping to launch the first commercial solar product within 1 year.