A Tech Saturday Carnival – Fun and not much of a Futuristic Vision

With Singapore committed to making the Lion City a Smart Nation by 2025, I chose to visit the Tech Saturday Carnival today, hoping to see glimpses of anticipated technology-enabled changes in the way we live, learn, work and play.

IMG_2122I was ready to be wowed by an exciting and mind-blowing journey into the future where:

  • smart devices will rule the market and not sit just in the pockets of the monetarily mighty
  • robots will carry out even major surgeries
  • the Smart Grid will be all pervasive
  • healthcare for the ageing, mobility and data security, the initial three Smart Nation priorities, will present a transformational dimension
  • vehicles will truly run without fuel sounding the death knell for the already battered black gold economy
  • today’s innovations are in the mainstream with big-time monetisation
  • an entrepreneurial culture will be evident in Singapore
  • there are answers to today’s biggest problem of population density in Singapore

Play Work LivePremature Publicity: I was ill-prepared for the disappointment that was in store, blame it on all the premature publicity for the Smart Nation initiative.

But then this was a Carnival where the focus can understandably be on fun. The result: innovations tuned for amusement with not much practicality or potential for big business.

One of the innovations that caught my attention was a driverless autonomous buggy designed to be operationally viable but may be economically prohibitive as at this stage it features a variety of sensors that are very expensive.

BuggyA Driverless Buggy: A creation of the Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology (SMART), the buggy uses laser instead of GPS for direction and is programmed to run without a driver. Passengers just need to enter their destination into a system within and it takes off.

A golf buggy was recently deployed at the Jurong Gardens to good reception. But I thought the utility value is limited to such places as the golf course.

I spoke to a member of the design team and he told me that the buggies could be run as a service in the city for short distances. He felt it may not be made available for public sale as a little car they can use for their private requirements.

SMART’s plans for Future Urban Mobility solutions, for both freight and passengers, in and beyond Singapore were also in focus.

A car largely made out of printed parts in a lego-like effort and a few robotic innovations did highlight the sparks of genius from the creators. But they were more like the result of recreational activities that may not carry much business weight.

A good start overall and that can get a push when all the smart initiatives attract investments for development and universal marketing. IMG_2071 IMG_2072 IMG_2073 IMG_2075 IMG_2076 IMG_2077 IMG_2080 IMG_2082 IMG_2083 IMG_2096 IMG_2098 IMG_2104 IMG_2108 IMG_2110 IMG_2112 IMG_2113 IMG_2117 IMG_2118 IMG_2126 IMG_2156

G Joslin Vethakumar

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