By Jo-ann Huang
Having seen videos of remote-controlled drones online, Primary 4 student Lionel Tan was keen to try his hand at piloting one when he visited the Tech Saturday event on 29 April with his father Ryan. Under the guidance of an on-site pilot, the father and son team flew their drone through several obstacles at the Drone Tryout zone.
More than just expensive toys for hobbyists, drones are being used by companies in a range of industries from logistics to maritime. For example, they are currently being tested by retailers such as Amazon to deliver small packages over short distances, speeding up delivery times and reducing their reliance on traditional logistics operators.
Mr Tan said, “I've always wanted to know how they work. I might buy one for my son.”
"I hope my dad buys it for my birthday, so I can fly it in the park!" added Lionel.
Drone flying was just one of the many activities on offer at Tech Saturday, a two-day carnival held on 29 and 30 April,that gave the the public a chance to get their hands on a wide range of nifty gadgets and technology. As part of Smart Nation Innovations (SNI) Week 2017, organised by the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA), it seeks to create awareness of how technology can positively impact the way we live, work and play.
The Tans were just one of the many families who visited Tech Saturday last weekend. Now in its third year, the previously one-day event added one more day of fun and learning in the form of tinkering stations, tech demos, interactive activities, and free workshops. Participants came from all walks of life - from the young and the elderly, tech enthusiasts and novices.
Exploring virtual worlds
Tech Saturday comprised six zones that explored various innovations: Tinker Space, Interactive Showcase, Worksheds, Arena+, Lab on Wheels and Hackathon.
One highlight at the Interactive Showcase was an underwater virtual reality (VR) experience called “StoryHive – Eyes on Habitat Coral Reef". The Storyhive app provides users with a guided underwater simulation featuring the coral reefs at Sisters' Islands Marine Park. The prototype was a collaboration between IMDA PIXEL Labs, Hiverlab and DHI Water and Environment. The three local organisations collaborated to show that there is a thriving marine life amid Singapore's highly urbanised landscape, which you can experience without getting wet.
At the Worksheds zone, there were 30 two-hour workshops and two five-hour bootcamps free for all to participate. The workshops were designed for anyone from age 7 to 70 with an interest in technology, art and media.
"Disruptive Storytelling in a Convergent World" was one of the sold-out workshops at Tech Saturday. It taught participants how to use transmedia - which refers to content delivered across multiple platforms - storytelling techniques to create compelling storylines. Transmedia producers from Mediacorp and actor Tay Ping Hui trained the workshop's participants, who ranged from ages 18 to above 60 years old (watch video).
Local YouTubers TreePotatoes also made an appearance at Tech Saturday (watch video), detailing to the audience how they have achieved success on the online video platform.
Going digital at any age
At Tinker Space, attendees learned how to code without computers using Potato Pirates. The card game teaches basic coding concepts, making coding a fun subject for all ages. Peter Chan, who is in his 60s, accompanied his family and two grandsons to Tech Saturday and took part in the activity. "(Potato Pirates) is simple to do, and I can do it with my grandchildren," said Mr Chan, who is a retiree.
Meanwhile, Hackathon saw the inaugural FIRST LEGO League Junior Challenge, which required primary school students aged six to nine to build motorised models out of LEGO bricks (watch video). The theme for the challenge was Creature Craze, where participants drew inspiration from the animal kingdom for their creations. The challenge was designed to teach children computational thinking concepts, while encouraging creativity and analytical thinking.
Beyond the fun and games, Tech Saturday had a broader goal of preparing Singaporeans for the digital economy. “We need to involve every segment of society – from the businesses to the individual – to create a vibrant digital ecosystem that will power our future,” said Tan Kiat How, Chief Executive Officer of IMDA.
For more pictures of the event, head to IMDA's Facebook page.