Urban Innovation

In pictures: Cutting-edge innovations for smart cities

Nutthavood Punpeng | Moment | Getty Images

This week, Singapore hosted the Smart Nation Innovations conference, where businesses leaders, tech entrepreneurs and academics convened to debate and discuss how to tackle urban challenges from traffic congestion to coping with an ageing population.

Technology, of course, was at the epicenter of many of the solutions, in particular the use of sensors and big data analytics.

Singapore, which strives to become the world's first "smart nation" within the next decade, has become somewhat of a breeding ground for high-tech innovations aimed at making cities smarter.

From a 3D-printed solar-powered car to an autonomous kayak used to assess water quality, startups in the city-state are pushing the envelope with new technologies to make city living more efficient and sustainable.

Click ahead to view the latest technologies that will help shape the city of tomorrow:

3D-printed solar-powered car


This futuristic vehicle is Singapore's first urban solar electric car created by undergraduates at Singapore's Nanyang Technological University and launched in February.

One hundred and fifty parts were 3D-printed and assembled over a four-month period to make the body of the concept car, whichhas a top speed of 40 km/h.

Striving for energy efficiency, bespoke solar panels were installed to charge the car's battery, although it can also be charged via conventional power outlets. Using solar power alone, the battery would take approximately two days to charge fully.

While this car was designed for driving on a track, students at the university are developing a vehicle for mainstream usage.

Autonomous kayak


For real-time data on water quality or the marine environment, here's a solution.

A team at the Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology (SMART) has designed a robotic kayak that can be controlled manually using a joystick or travel autonomously between pre-programmed waypoints.

Sensors attached to the kayak obtain various data points including temperature, salinity and chlorophyll levels, which are transferred immediately via a cellular network to a central sever.

SMART's vision is for the data to be made available on public portals so that citizens have greater access to information on their coastal environment.

Kilowatt count


Forget counting calories, it's time to start keeping track of your kilowatt consumption.

This is a real-time cloud energy management platform for homes and buildings developed by Green Koncepts.

How does it work? Smart meters, which connect to electricity, water and gas sources, collect Usage data is collated and made available to an end-user via PC or mobile.

The goal is to help users make proactive decisions to reduce energy usage.

Shop floor analytics


This technology created by Trakomatic enables retail outlets to track customer demographics – including age and gender – and behavior such as the time spent on the store floor.

Streams of video footage from store cameras are analyzed in real-time and converted into data, which is immediately visualized on a dashboard.

Sensors are also installed into store shelves to determine which products are selling well and which aren't to help retailers identify hotspots in the store and optimize the floor layout.

VR meets urban planning


Upstart U.D.L.R Studios, founded by architecture students, brings a new dimension to urban planning.

Combining virtual reality technology with architectural design software, U.D.L.R Studios builds custom 3D virtual reality simulations for architectural projects.

Using a virtual reality headset and joystick, architects can "walk through" an unbuilt project, getting a life-like experience of the space.

U.D.L.R Studios does not sell the technology but offers its services to architecture and construction firms.

The Eye Robot


This could be the next generation of security guards.

The "Eye Robot" was originally developed for internal use by Huawei, but the Chinese telecom equipment maker is now exploring ways to commercialize the 1.6-meter-tall telepresence robot.

Fixed with an HD camera, the robot can be programed to travel on pre-set pathways, patrolling areas with limited security resources.

When it's not on surveillance duty, it can serve other functions including facilitating communication through its video-conferencing function.

Sensors galore


Developed by BioMachines, the "Sentinel Platform", is loaded with sensors that track a number of parameters including temperature, wind speed, humidity and soil conditions.

Data collected from the sensors is transmitted over the internet to a central platform for analysis.

This platform has been deployed in Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand and the U.S. by both government agencies and the private sector.

In Indonesia, it's been used to run sustainable crop management program to enhance yield and improve the livelihood of smallholder cocoa farmers, according to the National Research Foundation.

New age nursing


Leading innovation in the smart health care space, MindWave Solutions has created a system for monitoring hospital patients through the use of a T-shirt with inbuilt sensors.

The sensors capture a host of vital statistics, such as pulse rate, oxygen saturation, temperature, blood pressure and ECG.

This data is transmitted to a central dashboard, where a nurse is able to remotely monitor several patients on a single screen. Alerts are raised when certain thresholds are breached.

MindWave Solutions' vital signs monitoring solution is currently going through a trial in a local clinic in Singapore with 50 patients.