Singapore wants a say in how things 'talk' to one another

Mr Dennis Quek of the Institute for Infocomm Research’s productivity programme showing how to use a touchscreen display to check the location of empty spaces in a carpark via a camera system that monitors the number of occupied spots.

SINGAPORE - One day, driverless cars that can avoid traffic jams and home appliances that can be controlled with a smartphone from the office could become a reality here. But there are many different standards regarding their use.

So, a committee is being formed to look into this "Internet of Things" phenomenon, in which everyday objects would communicate with one another or react to situations wirelessly.

On Monday, executive deputy chairman Steve Leonard of the Infocomm Development Authority, said at a conference that there are global discussions on harmonising different standards for the Internet of Things.

"We want to make sure that Singapore has its voice in this. So we are working to set up an Internet of Things (technical) committee," he said at the Internet of Things Asia conference at the Singapore Expo.

This evolution of the Internet is an exciting one as it promises to give people more control of their environments, or devices the capabilities to react seamlessly through the information that can be relayed to them.

An IDA spokesman said the process of setting up the committee began earlier this month with initial members being the Nanyang Technological University, the National University of Singapore, IDA, Spring Singapore, the Singapore infocomm Technology Federation, and the Internet Society.

Besides proposing the direction for Singapore's standards and facilitating their use, the committee will participate in key global standardisation activities on the Internet of Things.

This is "to help contribute to the international... work, and safeguard and advance our interest in Singapore", said the IDA spokesman.

Small- and medium-sized enterprises are also getting help to make sense of the developments. Speaking at yesterday's conference, Minister of State for Trade and Industry Teo Ser Luck said clinics are in the works to help firms harness technologies to improve productivity.

On show at the event were tracking technologies for toilet cleanliness, carpark lots and taxi queues. Tests for these began at the Singapore Expo last month and are expected to last a year.

This article was published on April 22 in The Straits Times.

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