Tech Saturday returned bigger and better this year. Find out what fun everyone had at the tech carnival.
At Tech Saturday's Tech Showcase area, IT professional Mr Calvin Chou nimbly demonstrated the ESOGlove, a smart robotic glove with rubbery “fingers” invented by a team from the National University of Singapore, to many curious visitors.
ESOGlove, one of the latest wearable tech gadgets, was among the various interesting technological innovations featured at Tech Saturday, a major event organised by the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA).
The annual play-and-learn carnival, one of the anchor events of IDA’s Smart Nation Innovations Week, was held at the Suntec Convention Centre on May 21.
The carnival's goal: To reach out to the young and old — and get them to explore new technologies.
Against the backdrop of a rapidly aging population and with stroke the largest cause of long-term physical disability in Singapore, Mr Chou felt that the ESOGlove was a “good idea” as it enables stroke patients to do their own physical therapy exercises such as pinching and grasping, without the need for additional manpower.
A few steps away from the ESOGlove booth, Ms Ong Lay Peng, who heads a business unit in her company, was trying out an intelligent massage jacket which provides point pressure massage. The Airawear jacket works the same way as a pneumatic system by using air in in inflatable frame.
“The jacket feels very comfortable with its acupressure and body compression functions, and I felt relaxed when wearing it,” said Ms Ong, who travels overseas frequently for work.
“The hoodie can also be folded and brought into airplanes,” she noted.
Both ESOGlove and Airawear are innovations aimed at enhancing the well-being of users.
The government app HealthHub, which was also showcased at the carnival, shares a similar goal of helping users to keep healthy. It serves as a one-stop online health information and services portal.
Besides providing reliable health-related content and access to personal health and medical records which range from immunisation to health screening results, it also allows users to retrieve the health records of their children and parents online, and to book appointments with hospitals, polyclinics and health institutions.
Madam Maggie Tan, a retiree who was at the carnival checking out the apps, found another government app MyInfo to be rather “thoughtful” as it prompts users for permission before their personal data is retrieved to fill out government e-forms.
A one-stop data platform, MyInfo pulls data from different Government agencies, using the information to apply for new flats, register for baby bonus scheme, for admission for polytechnics and other government transactions.
This gives them the convenience of not having to provide the same information every time they use government e-Services.
Madam Tan also liked the fact that because it’s consent-based, she can always choose whether she’d like her personal data to be shared in this way.
There were plenty of attractions aside from the tech wearables and useful government apps at Tech Saturday.
Other technologies sharing the limelight at the carnival included virtual reality, sensors, micro-controllers and robotic kits.
Getting comfortable with Tech
Hands-on participants also took part in game coding competitions, drone-flying races and full-house workshops where hobbyists, makers, tinkerers and pioneers shared knowledge and learnt from each other.
For example, Mr Teo Chin Seng, who turns 65 this year, was experimenting with a 3D printing pen in the pioneers workshed.
It was his first time using a 3Doodler and he was trying to turn a 2D drawing of a pair of spectacles into 3D.
“It’s not easy to control the flow of the output,” he said, laughing as he tried to “trace out” the spectacle frame.
Dr Janil Puthucheary, Minister of State for Communications and Information, was the guest-of-honour at the carnival.
“One of the key things that we want people to get from Tech Saturday as well as the larger Smart Nation movement is that they can build things by themselves,” he said.
“It is not just about buying a drone off the shelf; you can make it, you can modify it, you can fly it, you can fix it. We want the idea that you can build things, you can do things with your own hands, you can modify, you can improve and you can repair. This is something you need to learn about and be comfortable with.”
Tech Saturday also brought out the competitive streak in tech-savvy youngsters.
116 students, ranging from 8 to 12 years old, demonstrated their familiarity with technology when they battled each other in the Kids Hackathon, armed with their coding and computational thinking skills.
Fighting under the theme of “Homeland Security”, the winning team consisting of student Zach Ng and three team-mates from Poi Ching School, successfully eliminated all threats using their robotic kits to protect the Smart Nation.
Team leader Zach, 10, attributed their success to teamwork: “We worked together as a team and completed all the tasks required."
More importantly, Zach added, "It was challenging but fun!”
Without a doubt, it is a sentiment shared by the 17,000 happy visitors who got to enjoy technology up-close and personal at Tech Saturday 2016.