NTT Com Startup Challenge 2018 – FAVORIOT as Top 10 Finalists

During the NTT Com Startup Challenge in Malaysia held recently, there are 351 Startups registered which 186 submitted their pitch decks, however, only 10 Finalists are selected for the Final Day (Oct. 11, 2018).


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Topik 1 – Era Manakah Kita?

Bermula hari ini, saya akan cuba kongsikan video mengenai IR4.0 dan IOT. Video ini di rakam secara pendek (kurang dari 4 minit) dan di terangkan secara santai dan mudah di fahami oleh semua orang. Kita selalu melihat video teknologi dalam Bahasa Inggeris tetapi saya cuba dalam Bahasa Melayu.

Jika ada sesuatu persoalan yang hendak dikemukakan maka sila tulis komen di bawah. Insyallah saya akan cuba jawab pada siri-siri akan datang.

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TEDxKenyalang 2018: Outreach the World!

WhatsApp Image 2018-10-02 at 13.13.47WhatsApp Image 2018-10-02 at 13.16.25

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Careers in Emerging Technology


[Based on a Panel Session “Careers in Emerging Technology” at MyDigitalMaker Fair 2018, Sept. 30, 2018, Axiata Arena]

Question (1): Overview of your organization and what it does

Answer: FAVORIOT is a Malaysian Internet of Things (Io) Company focusing on providing a peace of mind solution to the Pilgrims and their family member during their Hajj and Umrah. Currently, we have many issues whereby pilgrims went missing and also challenges in monitoring their health condition. We provide an end-to-end solution called RAQIB whereby a pilgrim will be monitored via a wearable device using a mobile application. Furthermore, we provide to the Mutawwif (Travel Agent in charge of the Pilgrims) a system to monitor them in case of emergencies.

Question (2): How do you view and embrace the ever-changing world of disruptive technologies in your operations?

Answer: As a technology and product company, we always to ensure what we build today will provide a better quality of lives to the people and provide a new revenue stream for the business community. The best part of technologies in the era of the fourth industrial revolution is that it comes at the right and same time which in effect provide many business opportunities that seem an impossible couple of years ago.

Question (3): Many parents or maybe even students may not have heard of the types of business or technologies you champion. What attracted you to embark on unconventional technologies that you are now involved in?

Answer: Internet of Things is not something new in the tech world. Kevin Ashton initially coined the term IoT in the year 1999. Personally, I have been involved in IoT (maybe that was called M2M or machine-to-machine) in the early 2000s when we introduced the first Ring-a-Coke or SMS-a-Coke whereby we can buy a Coke from vending machine either by calling or sending an SMS to a special number on that machine.

If you Google the word “IoT” using Google Trends in Malaysia, we see Malaysians only start to be aware of IoT since the last 5 years (2013) and keeps growing till today. In 2014, we set up a new subsidiary in one of the telcos to run an IoT business focusing in Smart City. When we exited the company, we co-found FAVORIOT which now caters for a different product and different market.

Question (4): Do you think robots will take over human jobs in Malaysia? How can we stay relevant as robots become more and more intelligent, and humanlike?

Answer: Simple, be more intelligent than the Robot itself! Of course, that’s a big challenge to many of the people. People who can create robots definitely will not be able to be replaced by the robots (the Terminator movie is a little bit far-fetched, although not impossible). What comprises of an intelligent robot? The great thing about a robot is because it comprised of many of the technologies in the Fourth Industrial Evolution such as IoT, Big Data Analytics and Artificial Intelligence that brings the human sensors, the ability to “see” and “visualize” objects and the ability to think. People that have skills in these areas are still wanted and are relevant in many years to come.

How about the rest? Either they upgrade or reskill themselves with new technologies, or most likely they will together with the robots such as in logistics and factories.

Question (4): What skill sets do you look for in new hires?

Answer: Four things other than the technologies in the Fourth Industrial Revolution are (1) Passion (2) Problem solving (3) Communication Skills and (4), Knowledge Hunter

Question (5): What should we do to equip the next generation with these skill sets?

Answer: Start young as early as Kindergarten. We are seeing the Generation-Z that was born at the age of the Internet. When they are babies, their parents gave Tablets to make them either busy or teach new things. I was introduced to one new company today that impressed me with his project to educate 4-year-old kids with the concept of the Internet of Things (IoT).

FAVORIOT also have our IoT middleware which we offer to 15 local Universities that allow students to experiment and create their own innovative projects by connecting their sensors to our middleware and also use our Developer APIs to easily create their projects.

Question (6): Any advice or last words for students on what careers or studies to pursue?

Answer: If you want to pursue a career, please choose the one that you are really passionate about.

In my childhood days (40-50 years ago), I always want to become a Scientist that can create a Robot although, at that time, I don’t really know what is the job of a scientist. I am very passionate how a robot works. I graduated with a Bachelor in Electrical Engineerings, Masters in Telematics, Ph.D. in Telecommunications, became an Academician, work in a telco, Government R&D agency, returned to telco and now set up my own IoT business. And during that journey, I was recognized as an IoT Thought Leader.


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FAVORIOT Bags Two Awards at MSC Malaysia APICTA 2018

MSC Malaysia APICTA Awards

The objective of the MSC Malaysia Asia Pacific ICT Awards (MSC Malaysia APICTA) is to provide recognition to outstanding achievements of individuals, students, entrepreneurs, SMEs and organizations with operations in Malaysia who have contributed to the development of the MSC Malaysia initiatives or in building applications and services for the benefit of Malaysia. It recognizes creativity, innovation, and excellence in Malaysian ICT.

This annual Awards program also provides an opportunity and an ideal environment for individuals and companies to gain local, regional and international exposure through on-going promotional activities, and through participation at the international Asia Pacific ICT Alliance Awards (APICTA).

Winners of the MSC Malaysia APICTA Awards represent Malaysia at the annual International APICTA Awards in Guangzhou China from 10-14 October 2018.


FAVORIOT Bags Two Merits Awards

FAVORIOT won two Merits for categories (1) RAQIB – Health and Wellbeing (2) IoT Middleware – Community Services.

CEO of FAVORIOT, Dr. Mazlan Abbas, said the Startup constantly pushed the boundaries of IoT to build solutions for people and also offering an IoT platform for building Malaysia IoT ecosystem.

“We started as an unknown IoT Startup with a noble mission to help elderly people staying alone at home. It evolves into Raqib, a Smart Hajj solution providing a peace of mind to the pilgrims and family members during their Hajj or Umrah. We aimed to make Malaysia proud with our own home-made product and technology,” he said in a statement today.

Insights Success Magazine has recently shortlisted FAVORIOT as one of The 10 Most Innovative IoT Startups to Watch, 2018 that continuously raising the bar with their innovative IoT solutions. FAVORIOT is proud to be listed as one of them by the prestigious Insights Magazine.

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Welcome to Smart Hajj 4.0

smart hajj-2.png

The Hajj Vision of the Future

Recently,  Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Hajj and Umrah has released a YouTube video showing its Smart Hajj vision of how the pilgrimage will be supported by a number of technologies, including wireless wristbands, earphones,  and contactless cards.

The Problems

Imagine a pilgrim that seamlessly walk through the process of arriving at the Airport with personal greetings, taking fast transportation with the ease of check-in to the hotel. Furthermore, the devices will help the pilgrims continuously during their pilgrimage. A personal assistant will help to reminds the number of rounds made during the Tawaf and Saie.

Many times we have pilgrims encountered problems and have difficulty to communicate with others due to the language barrier. Previously, only physical maps are shown in certain strategic locations in Mina, however, with the help of smartphone and GPS, the pilgrims can easily find their way back.

All of the technologies shown in the video are already available such as Bluetooth wristbands, contactless cards, wireless earphones among others. The only challenges they might face with such short-range Bluetooth devices are the coverage in areas like Arafah, Mudzalifa or Mina or even outside both Holy Mosques (Masjidilharam and Masjidil Nabawi).

Individual devices alone can’t make a very good and seamless service unless we integrate with feature-rich mobile applications or backend support systems. However, the most important factor is the right business model either by providing such affordable solutions either to individual pilgrims or make it mandatory for all 2.3 Million pilgrims.

The Mission – Providing a Peace of Mind

The main objective of a Smart Hajj is to provide the pilgrims with a Peace of Mind during their travel while performing their Hajj rituals. The Saudi Kingdom, being the host to Millions of people converging to the Holy Land during that short time period of the year have a mission to provide the best possible service to the Holy visitors. Being good to another Muslim is core in the Islamic faith.

Even though the YouTube video it seemed to be a visionary concept but there are many key initiatives by various parties around the world attempting to realize that vision such as RAQIBSmart Hajj by GISTIC,  iHajj, HaramTracker,  Hajj Tracker, Hajj Guider, Haj Mobility. Unfortunately, not many of them have successfully deployed except for pilot trials.

The Key Success factors of Smart Hajj

Among the key success factors for a Smart Hajj solution are:

  1. Easy to wear and robust. People tend to forget about the device if it is just a normal tag, however, having a device like a “watch” is rarely forgotten because the watch is seen to be an everyday wear. It’s also important to have a device with a long battery life. However, just like any smartphone, the pilgrims have that option to carry along a Powerbank to charge the device just in case it requires that extra juice.
  2. Fitness, Safety, Health, and Peace of Mind. When wearables such as Fitbit was introduced, it was meant for fitness-related activities. Such fitness devices have tremendously evolved with the integration of other sensors and features into a single device. It no longer just tracks your exercise activities but also your health parameters such as Blood Pressure and ECG. It no longer tracks your running, walking or cycling daily routes, but also tracking for the purpose of security and safety. The application is no longer to track oneself, but also provide a peace of mind to the family members.
  3. Emergency. There will be likely a 90% chance that the pilgrim will get a “Hajj Cough” during that 2 months period. The heat can cause dehydration and people can get fainted and send to the hospital. With the challenge of a language barrier, it can be a daunting task to convey any message across. There must a better method for a 2-way communication between the pilgrims and the Hajj Authorities or to their travel group members.
  4. End-to-End Hajj/Umrah Management System – People spend the lifetime savings for that single holy journey. Managing Millions of people is not an easy task for an individual’s country Hajj authorities and also for the host. Pilgrims are divided into smaller groups and traveled together under their assigned Mutawwifs (Officer-in-Charge). Thus, it’s the responsibility of the Mutawwifs and their agencies to take care of their pilgrims. However, they need to have the right tool or system to monitor them.

Welcome to the New Era of Hajj

Although the rituals of Hajj remained the same, the upcoming pilgrim’s journey and experience will be very different with the introduction of smart tools, applications, and infrastructure. Technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT), Big Data Analytics, Augmented and Virtual Reality and Blockchain will transform the Hajj journey into the era of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Let’s welcome to “Smart Hajj 4.0”!

About Author

Mazlan - Photo Sept 2018

Dr. Mazlan Abbas is the CEO and Co-Founder of FAVORIOT. FAVORIOT is a Malaysian IoT Startup that focuses on providing a peace of mind solution called Raqib for the pilgrims and their family members during performing their Hajj. Favoriot also offers a senior care solution called Favorwatch to monitor the elderly’s health, safety, and location. Both solutions above comprised of Smart Wearables connected to Favoriot IoT middleware. The middleware is being used by more than 20 organizations to build their own IoT solutions.

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