DOST rolling out projects on thermal scanners, distributed computing

The Advanced Science and Technology Institute (ASTI) of the Department of Science and Technology said it is currently working on a number Covid-19 projects including a non-contact temperature-taking device which uses a medical-grade sensor that can be utilized by frontliners.

There are three types being developed:

  • A Modified Wood Moisture Meter retrofitted with a thermal sensor. This is an existing product for the woodworking industry that was co-developed by DOST-ASTI, DOST- Forest Products Research and Development Institute (DOST-FPRDI), and Alexan. The device looks like typical thermal scanners used in checkpoints with temperature readings displayed in a screen.
  • A small device that can be attached to smartphones using typical wire interfaces.
  • A small device that can be attached to smartphones with wireless/Bluetooth interfaces.

The idea for the last two was to develop a small attachment that can be fitted with a phone to take advantage of its availability and prevalence. Temperature readings will be displayed in the phone screen through an application. 

The project was developed by ASTI’s embedded, wireless systems, and Philippine Earth Data Resource and Observation (PEDRO) teams.

ASTI also tapped the PEDRO center, along with the Remote Sensing and Data Science Help Desk (DATOS) Project, for satellite images that are being deployed to monitor areas of interest during the lockdown period.

Pre-quarantine images were retrieved from commercial Earth observation satellite Worldview 2 (2019) and remote sensing satellite Kompsat 3 (2019), while images of Metro Manila during the quarantine period were taken on March 18. Satellite images showing the traffic situation have been processed for various places in Metro Manila for public information. The images have also been posted in social media platforms of DOST-ASTI.

PEDRO also provided high-resolution satellite images while the processing and analysis was done by DATOS Project using DOST-ASTI’s science infrastructure.

ASTI also partnered with the Philippine Genome Center (PGC) for the implementation of a number of computational studies related to Covid-19. The PGC sought assistance from ASTI to host the computing needs of some of its volunteers.

ASTI’s Computing and Archiving Research Environment (COARE) facility will support the PGC by providing access to its supercomputer or high-performance computing (HPC) service.

For their Covid-19-related computing needs, volunteer researchers will have access to a supercomputer with the following capacity:

  • GPU: six Nvidia Tesla P40 (with 1Tb RAM per GPU server)
  • CPU: 1728 cores (with 512Gb of RAM per CPU server)

As of April 01, four researchers already have access to the supercomputer. Their activities are focused on phylogenetic analysis, computational studies, evolutionary analysis, and silico detection of SARS-CoV-2/ Covid-19.

Established in 2014, COARE seeks to enable multiple data integration from ASTI-initiated projects and collaborative projects with other agencies that have high requirements for data storage and high-performance computing.

Last March 17, the COARE facility was also used to support Folding@Home, an R&D project dedicated to help combat worldwide diseases through distributed computing.

The project was founded by the Pande Lab, a scientific laboratory that is part of the Department of Chemistry and Structural Biology in Stanford University and the Stanford Medical Center.

By installing and setting up Folding@Home, people all around the globe could volunteer the idle resources of their personal computers and help capacitate the research operations of the project.

The system administrators of the Computing and Archiving Research Environment

The COARE team, led by its technical head Christian O. Matira, began the Folding@Home initiative by installing and setting up a folding node for the Covid-19 research. Through this delegated node, Folding@Home can run simulations by utilizing a portion of the COARE’s CPU and GPU resources.

Since the COARE has higher computational power and speed in comparison to regular personal computers, the environment has a greater potential in helping Folding@Home accomplish the research pursuits on computational drug design, protein folding, molecular dynamics, and other Covid-19-related computer simulations.

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