A group shot at the prize ceremony of the Splash Awards 2018. (Photo: SCS)
Team CCJ from NUS High School with Senior Minister of State Sim Ann and Mr Howie Lau from SCS. (Photo: SCS)
By Jennifer Dhanaraj
Babies cry as a form of communication.
But it can be incredibly frustrating and stressful for parents to interpret these cries. Are they hungry? Are they sleepy?
There are a number of reasons why they do so.
Now, a team from NUS High School of Mathematics and Science is trying to make parenting easier with the help of artificial intelligence (AI).
To use AI and machine learning to predict the reasons behind a baby’s crying – and then formulate an appropriate response to help the baby.
A team in action during the finals. (Photo: SCS)
Team CCJ was crowned the pre-tertiary champions at the Singapore Computer Society’s (SCS) 15th annual Splash Awards held on 7 July.
The competition aims to instil the spirit of innovation, creativity and entrepreneurship in youth while inspiring them to join the infocomm media industry.
“The inspiration behind our idea started off as a joke but we quickly realised that parents faced problems when they try to decipher exactly why their baby is crying. We thought that this chatbot can help to analyse the baby’s cry based on past data and eventually help parents make their job easier,” explained Team CCJ team member Roy Ang.
While the chatbot still needs a lot of work, according to Roy’s teammate Kyle Chan, 17, they envision that their idea could be used by hospitals in future.
AI applications in the real world
This year’s competition revolved around the theme of AI innovation, and the entries submitted by the students are for practical situations in the areas such as community-building, education, family and lifestyle, healthcare and transportation.
Nanyang Polytechnic's Team Mimibot was the tertiary champion that came out with a machine learning-powered chatbot.(Photo: SCS)
Student teams showcased their solutions in their booths during the event, with the help of an intelligent social robot named XiaoBai.
Ms Sim Ann, Senior Minister of State for Communications and Information, and Culture, Community and Youth, was the guest-of-honour at the ceremony. She said that getting students exposed to AI and machine learning is extremely important because of the demand for AI in today’s economy.
“AI is already present in many aspects of our everyday lives. Its pervasiveness is a result of its versatility where the application and use of AI can be seen cutting across a vast range of sectors, from retail and F&B to finance,” she explained.
This was exemplified by the 12 finalists who maximised the potential of AI and came up with solutions to problems that are currently relevant to our country.
The power of tech to solve problems
Mr Gerald Chew ( right) during the final judging round. (Photo: SCS)
Sharing the passion of Team CCJ to make parenting easier, Team Mimibot – the tertiary champion from Nanyang Polytechnic – created a chatbot that helps parents understand their child better as it analyses their thoughts and emotions using machine learning.
It has an educational component as parents can upload word games that they want their kids to play.
More importantly, the chatbot can analyse speech patterns of the child and give parents insights into how they are actually feeling, thus making them more informed to make better decisions to further help their child.
One of the judges, Mr Gerald Chew, Head of Innovations at Integrated Health Information Systems (IHiS), said that many Splash Awards teams had impressed him.
“Ultimately, the ones who stood out were teams that showed a combination of interdisciplinary skills. It is not enough just to be technically skilled. There needs to be a willingness to research and understand the context of the real-world problems to ensure that your AI solution is the right solution. The winning teams proved this,” he said.
“As tech becomes increasingly more embedded in everything that we do and across every industry, it’s immensely important for our students and our workforce to be digitally competent so as to harness the powers of tech,” said SCS President Howie Lau.