High-tech, low-cost ideas for SMEs

PHOTO: High-tech, low-cost ideas for SMEs

From robots which remotely monitor the elderly to a sensor which can track multiple carpark spaces to tell if they are empty - a host of easy-to-adopt innovations are soon set to hit the market to help small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) boost productivity. Twenty of these high-tech solutions are on display at the two-day ICM Horizons exhibition, which opened at the Biopolis.

The 20th edition of the event specially targets Singapore's SMEs, said Dr Tan Geok Leng, executive director of the Agency for Science, Technology and Research's (A*Star) Institute for Infocomm Research (I2R), which organises the annual exhibition.

He said that while SMEs should look at technological solutions to boost productivity, their ability to do this is "more limited" as they may not have the budget for expensive gizmos or lack the necessary know-how.

That is why I2R researchers have tried to come up with new technology that is both affordable and easy to implement, such as solutions that come pre-assembled or use platforms which can be conveniently integrated.

Costs are also being lowered through cloud-sharing of data - an additional feature of the I2R's products, which will be made available by the end of the month.

One product on display is a sensor network which helps detect the availability of multiple parking spots indoors and in open areas, giving parking management companies a more efficient and cheaper alternative to installing sensors above every space.

Another innovation is the "telepresence robot", which can monitor individuals in group settings by combining voice detection and facial recognition. This can be used in video-conferencing or as a surveillance tool in places such as nursing homes.

The goal, said Dr Tan, is to get around 200 SMEs to take up technological solutions each year and increase their productivity by 30 to 50 per cent.

Griffin Kinetic, a 50-man firm which provides logistics services in shipping and health care, is already keen to adopt I2R's new mobile image recognition technology. The system, called Snap2Tell, allows users to easily create mobile applications that can bring up digital information on an object by taking a picture of it.

Each licence for Snap2Tell costs around $10,000.

Griffin Kinetic managing director Gerry Tan said: "The system could mean taking a picture of a crate, for instance, and getting all the shipping information in your hands. This could cut our manpower needs and reduce room for error, raising overall productivity by 20 per cent, if not more."


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