3 Local Technologies You Never Knew Existed
Which countries come to mind when you hear “Innovation” and “Technology”? Is it Japan - for its humanoid entertainment robots or their video games? Or perhaps United States for the generations of smartphones or social networking services and tools that most of us can’t live without today? While these are indeed prominent symbols of modern technology, some technologies we interact with and impact us in our daily lives were developed right here in Singapore! Bet you didn’t know that! Here are three innovations developed at Singapore’s Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR):
1. Smooth Slider
Back when clothes-pressing literally used a slab of heated iron, smoothing out the creases in clothing was a laborious task, especially if the fabric is coarse or rough. Today, thanks to A*STAR’s work on the Sol-Gel process, ironing is much less of a pain! Sol-Gel is essentially a composition of versatile materials with physical properties that can be easily customised by altering its constitution. Solid nanoparticles are dispersed in a liquid (a sol), allowing them to cluster together to form a continuous three-dimensional network that extends throughout the liquid body to take the form of a gel.
Sounds too complicated and distant from your daily life? Not at all! That high-end Philip’s iron in your household has a 6-layer composition of Sol-Gel applied on its advanced iron plates as a protective coating that makes it shiny and scratch-resistant. It also allows for an ultra-smooth glide across your favourite blouse or shirt in preparation for date night! Sleek with shine – that’s Sol-Gel! Apart from household appliances, this smooth fellow also holds promising potential for applications in the precision engineering, automotive, and even biomedical industries!
2. Spot the Silt!
Silty water turns our waterways and reservoirs muddy and unsightly, and affects our enjoyment of the water bodies. Currently, there are about 1,000 CCTVs installed at constructions sites to monitor silt discharge. Monitoring these CCTVs manually and regularly is tedious and time consuming. The time spent could be used on something other than staring at sediments! A*STAR researchers came up with the Silt Imagery Detection System (SIDS) that enables companies to monitor silt discharge from construction sites more efficiently!
SIDS analyses real-time CCTV footage by using image recognition technology and sends an alert automatically upon detection of silt discharge. This automated process frees up workers for other tasks, clocking significant time savings. The technology is already adopted at 300 construction sites and counting!
3. Printed Lights?
DO NOT doubt your eyes if you think you have seen a brightly lit billboard advertisement wheeling along the roads – it’s real! SMRT buses have recently begun sporting ‘glowing’ advertisements fitted with A*STAR’s Printed Lighting Technology. This neat piece of science is actually an advanced large-scale printing technique where electricity-conductible ink is deposited into paper-thin films, producing flexible light-emitting sheets that are fully reusable and that hardly emit any heat!
While they are more commonly adopted for advertising purposes, Printed Lighting Technology can be applied to artistic creations, aesthetically enhanced signage and even furnishing or packaging as a low-cost and environmentally friendly alternative to LED screens as well.
As a country that is known for its sound financial infrastructure and world-class education system, Singapore’s advances in the field of science and technology rightfully deserve a greater span of global attention. As we have learnt, homegrown scientific innovations are all around us! Stay tuned to this space as we bring to you more news and updates on technologies that are proudly Made-in-Singapore!
(Special thanks to Philips, PUB, HDB and China Rich Construction for assisting in the production of this article)