|Dr. Cheung Yiu-ming, Associate Professor of the Department of Computer Science of HKBU has been leading a research team in developing an infrared-spectrum-based recognition system for identifying Chinese herb species, their origins and modes of growth simultaneously. The recognition system achieves an accuracy rate of over 94 per cent and the technology was granted a Patent Right for Invention by the State Intellectual Property Office of China.
The quality of herbs is essential in ensuring the effectiveness and safety of Chinese medicine treatment. Traditionally, there are two methods of identifying Chinese herbs. The first method involves comparing the shape, colour, smell and size of the herbs. This requires experienced personnel capable of differentiating between the herbs but errors may occur from time to time. The other method is ingredient analysis involving laboratory test to accurately identify the exact composition of the herb. However, this process takes longer and is more expensive because of the complicated physical and chemical analyses involved.
In view of the shortcomings of the traditional identification methods, Dr. Cheung invented an infrared-spectrum-based recognition system for identifying Chinese herb species. From the infrared spectrum obtained by scanning the herbs, the system can quickly show the relevant macro data of the herbs by identifying the species, their origins and modes of growth, reflecting the genuineness and relative quality of the herbs.
Dr. Cheung said: “The quality of a Chinese herb is greatly determined by its chemical composition. As the quality also closely relates to the origin and mode of growth of the herb, the system offers a fast and simple way to identify the quality of the herb at a macro level by providing relevant data in a timely manner.” Dr. Cheung expects that the system will offer a low-cost identification solution for Chinese medicine pharmacists, food safety organisations or governmental departments and contribute to Chinese herb quality control.
In addition to its applications related to Chinese herb species, the system can further be developed for identifying the relative quality of food and beverages such as the genuineness of milk powder or grading of red wine.
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