Curtin Malaysia researcher and student win prestigious Curtinnovation Award for innovative research project

Miri – 1 November 2023 – Curtin University Malaysia (Curtin Malaysia) academic and researcher Dr. Christine Yeo Wan Sieng and postgraduate student Eric Chua Yong Hong have been awarded Curtin University’s prestigious 2023 Curtinnovation Award – International Prize for their remarkable research innovation, ‘Pine Sense’, which utilises advanced artificial intelligence technology to predict pineapple quality based on skin colours.

The annual Curtinnovation Awards recognise and celebrate individuals and teams that have made significant strides in innovative research, developing new innovations through research, study or work at Curtin University that have the potential to significantly benefit society.

Dr. Yeo and Chua’s project was one of 10 bold new products and services named winners at the gala awards event in Perth, including a deployable sensor system capable of flying under the radar to track aircraft and satellites, a theory based chatbot designed to support mental health in young people, and a leading national education platform that is improving access to school content

The panel of judges and selection committee were highly impressed with the quality and potential of all the projects, remarking that they stood out as among the most exceptional projects in the award’s 16-year history.

‘Pine Sense’ aims to revolutionise the pineapple industry by introducing an innovative way to assess the quality of pineapples. By leveraging AI technology, the model analyses the colours on the skin of pineapples and offers real-time predictions regarding their internal quality, ripeness, and sweetness. This breakthrough can significantly enhance the efficiency of pineapple harvesting and processing, ensuring consumers receive consistently high-quality fruits.

Dr. Yeo and Chua’s research is indicative of Curtin Malaysia’s commitment to fostering groundbreaking innovations across various sectors. With their dedication and expertise, they have demonstrated the university’s emphasis on cutting-edge research and development.

According to Dr. Yeo, the humble pineapple fruit is popular worldwide, with the global pineapple market forecast to reach US$23.1 billion by 2026. However, current methods to test the flavour profile and quality of a pineapple prior to sale are time consuming and invasive, destroying the fruit in the process.

She said Pine Sense is a non-destructive AI method that identifies a correlation between the colour of the fruit’s shell and its sweetness or acidity. An image of each pineapple is separated from its background, and its colour data is assessed through quality prediction modelling. Pine Sense’s ability to quickly and accurately assess pineapples, without destroying the fruit, makes it possible to grade individual fruit for different sectors of the market during processing.

“With Malaysia producing on average 400,000 to 600,000 tons of pineapples yearly, this new innovation aims to benefit the local and wider pineapple market by helping producers identify higher quality varieties, while reducing product waste,” she remarked.

“We are thrilled to see the recognition given to Dr. Yeo and Yong Hong for their remarkable achievement,” said Prof. Simon Leunig, Pro Vice-Chancellor, President and Chief Executive of Curtin Malaysia, who was in Perth to witness Dr. Yeo receiving the award. “Their innovation showcases the immense potential of AI-driven technologies in enhancing traditional industries. We are confident that this invention will create a positive impact on the pineapple industry in Malaysia and beyond.”

Prof. Leunig added that as winners of the Curtinnovation Award, Dr. Yeo and Chua brought great pride to Curtin Malaysia, further solidifying its reputation as a leading research institution in Malaysia and the region.

Also present at the awards ceremony was Curtin University Vice-Chancellor Prof. Harlene Hayne, Interim Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Research Prof. Melinda Fitzgerald, and Curtin Malaysia’s Chief Operating Officer Sharon Chong.

A new and cost-effective way to extract green hydrogen from untreated water won the highest prize at this year’s Curtinnovation Awards, named the Griffith Hack Overall Winner. The water electrolysis method developed by Professor Zongping Shao and PhD candidate Jiayi Tang works on unpurified water sources, including seawater. Their approach uses an alternative catalyst that costs just one tenth of existing methods and could produce green hydrogen at 60 per cent of the current cost.

Prof. Fitzgerald congratulated the new generation of innovators, saying that this year’s field of finalists was incredibly impressive. “I want to congratulate all of them for their outstanding work in trying to solve some of the world’s most difficult challenges,” Professor Fitzgerald said.

A promotional video about Pine Sense, can be viewed at

Curtin Malaysia, is the earliest and largest of Curtin University’s global campuses. Located in Miri, Sarawak, Curtin Malaysia offers a wide range of pre-university, undergraduate and postgraduate programmes across various disciplines. The campus is renowned for its excellent teaching standards, strong industry connections, and commitment to research excellence.

Information on Curtin Malaysia can be found on its website at, or look for Curtin Malaysia on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, LinkedIn and TikTok.

Dr Christine Yeo with the 2023 Curtinnovation Award – International Prize

(L-R) Prof Simon Leunig, Prof Harlene Hayne and Dr Christine Yeo

(L-R) Prof Simon Leunig, Prof Melinda Fitzgerald and Dr Christine Yeo

(L-R) Sharon Chong, Dr Christine Yeo and Prof Simon Leunig

Winners and dignitaries at the 2023 Curtinnovation Awards