JIS News

Firestream Media Distribution System (FSMDS) is the recipient of the prestigious Commerce, Science and Technology Minister’s award for Innovation in Science and Technology.
The system emerged the grand prizewinner from a total of 62 entries in 10 categories in the inaugural National Innovation Awards competition, which was organized by the Ministry, to recognize excellence in science and technology.
At the stellar awards ceremony held recently at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel in Kingston, FSMDS was also named as winner of the Popularisation category, which refers to those innovations that have a far-reaching impact on people.
Born out of the shared vision of David Cassanova, Managing Director of DC Digital and Neil Rhule and Grayson Alert, Directors of Aura Technologies, FSMDS integrates visual and data communications for the purpose of mass communication. “It is the only distance learning of this type in the world that does not require the Internet,” Mr. Cassanova tells JIS News.
He explains that, “what we have sought to do is use what is available in Jamaica, the cell phones and the T.V. set, and fuse both technologies.and here we are today with real time distance learning being delivered to your home”.
Commenting on the merits of the winning entry Chief Judge, Professor John Fray, says that the FSMDS popularizes science and technology and allows the end-users to “think with a science and technology habit of mind”.
“By revolutionizing the way things are currently being done, the winning entry allows for the development of new technologies and new applications of this technology,” he notes.
Such an innovation, he says, places Jamaica “in good stead to make its mark in the global market place”. The patent is pending for the innovation.
Obviously impressed with the entries, Commerce, Science and Technology Minister, Phillip Paulwell pledged the support of the Jamaica Intellectual Property Office (JIPO) to assist the projects with proper registration “so that their intellectual property rights can be adequately protected and safeguarded”.
FSMDS presently serves Jamaica News Network (JNN) in the area of cable broadcasting, where the news network uses the technology to provide both video and data to television subscribers.
The University College of the Caribbean is expected to apply the system in its distance education programmes across Jamaica. Two degree courses will be offered through the system in collaboration with Cable and Wireless Jamaica Limited, which will provide classroom support through cellular technology.
Outlining his vision for the system in an interview with JIS News, Mr. Rhule, one of the innovators, reveals that the plan is to make it a standard system for broadcast, pushing it more into education and training as a means of reaching more people in educational institutions or corporate entities, who want to extend the reach of their training. He envisages that in the future, Firestream will facilitate content being sent to cellular phones.
In addition he says, “we also see it being used for outdoor advertising”, especially as this relates to “the control of outdoor advertising.the vision will be to have billboards becoming digitized and becoming a part of a network that will be controlled by the system”.
The FSMDS will also facilitate real time user interaction with television and other visual media. “We have always believed in the convergence of media, data, video and voice”, Mr. Rhule notes.Meanwhile, Georgia Jefferson’s innovation ‘Nutraguard’ in the Agriculture and Food category, received the second place award.
Nutraguard is the process of non-chemical preservation of juice, drinks and beverages using an edible plant, which is widely available locally. The innovation was developed out of Ms. Jefferson’s passion for optimum health and nutrition for all Jamaicans and to harness the use of a local fruit, which she maintains is her “best kept secret”. It uses the brand ‘True Life Juices’ which has been in operation since June 2004.
Although she has no background knowledge in Chemistry, Ms. Jefferson shares with JIS News that her understanding of plants, after working with them for a long period of time, drove her to experiment with over 40 different plants and natural foods to select her “secret” fruit that would act as a preservative.
She says that the demand for her juices is great as she sells 50 to 60 gallons per week. Her primary focus is “making fruit juices and delivering them to the consumers in their biologically active stage, so that people can drink natural fruit juices and get the health benefits”, she explains.
Not to be outdone is Frank Haughton, who, with his invention the Hybrid Solar Dryer, entered in the Manufacturing category, won third place. The technology is a drying system for the agricultural sector.
This crop dryer is about the size of a 40-foot container, heated by solar energy or used lubricated oil from motor vehicles that has been heated, and is currently being used to dry spices and fruits. The system will eliminate glut, improve storage life and increase non-traditional export earnings. In addition to the three top awardees, there were other winners in the various categories. Dr. Winsome Miller-Rowe of St. James submitted the ‘Relax in Jamaica’ video, which emerged the winner in the Health and Safety category. This is a DVD, CD and booklet for use as a complementary holistic aid for the wellness industry. It captures the sounds and beauty of nature and is composed and arranged with instrumental music to produce the ‘Relaxation’ response in the body.
The Information and Communication Technologies and Electronics category was won by Homeworkjamaica.com, submitted by Ingrid Loiten, Managing Director of Educate Jamaica Network. Homeworkjamaica.com provides a centralized databank of current homework for schools, which parents and students can access 24 hours per day, 7 days per week. It uses cutting edge technology to send information to cellular phones via text messages as well as to the website.
Enviromath, a recycling initiative designed to improve mathematics education in Jamaican schools was the Education category winner. Designed by Norma Lee of Manchester, this innovation supports environmental education programmes by transforming solid waste materials into valuable educational resources.
The Engineering category winner was the Modified Rebuilding Process, which allows for parts to be efficiently produced at a level that was not previously available in Jamaica. Submitted by Robert Hamilton, Managing Director of Hamilton’s Industrial Machine Shop in St. James, the process involves the modification of a Crankshaft Rebuilding Machine using a welding process to melt and bond a special metal wire to the surface of a crankshaft.
Through the National Innovation Awards, the government is promoting the systemic application of scientific and technical knowledge to meet diverse and changing needs in different areas of the economy, and ultimately to increase production, productivity and diversity of products.