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.
- 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
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.
A 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.
G Joslin Vethakumar