Maker Faire Singapore Sparks Homegrown Smarts

Amazing Projects Showcase Intel Edison, Galileo to Over 10,000 People at the Largest Maker Showcase Held in Southeast Asia


July 23, 2015

Don’t understand a word your friends from overseas are saying? Chances are you’ll immediately yank out your phone and swipe around for a translation app. But if you’re 21-year-old Illisha Ramachandran, you won’t settle for downloading a mere app. That’s just too easy. Instead, Ramachandran built her own translator—based on an Intel Edison chip, for less than $100, with code she learned to write.

The Intel-sponsored Maker Faire Singapore drew more than 10,000 people, including Singapore’s Education Minister, Mr. Heng Swee Keat (2nd from right), who dropped by for a visit. As part of Intel’s effort to encourage inventors and creators, our company has now donated more than 50,000 Intel Galileo “maker” boards worldwide.

Ramachandran is just one of countless makers set on realizing their techie idea at a time. This month, she joined hundreds of other makers—including twenty from Intel—to show off their inventions at Maker Faire Singapore, the largest maker showcase ever held in South East Asia. This fourth annual event, sponsored by Intel, featured over 250 exhibits seen by well over 10,000 attendees.

What are we doing at the Maker Faire? “We want to inspire the local community to come up with cool, innovative, new ideas,” said Prakash Mallya, managing director of South East Asia in the Sales and Marketing Group. “We don’t want this to be just a weekend activity for kids,” Mallya continued, as families with children in tow raced towards the booths. “This is a fantastic opportunity for Intel to impact the community, from school curriculums to college programs.”

Bringing the Maker Faire to Singapore is just the start of a multi-year journey in this region, aimed at spurring innovation in the Internet of Things (IoT) and wearables. At the Faire, Intel also announced partnerships to establish Open Innovation Labs at Nanyang Technological University and Nanyang Polytechnic — two leading academic organizations in Singapore.

On the global front, Intel has donated over 50,000 Galileo boards to 1,000 universities to date, all in an effort to promote innovation around Intel-based products.

Below, check out the six most intriguing Intel-powered inventions spotted at this year’s Faire, plus meet the Intel team behind the show.

Like most college students nowadays, 21-year old Illisha Ramachandran has friends from across the world. So she thought it’d be fun to build a box capable of translating phrases using Google’s speech API across five languages—Mandarin, Malay, French, German, and English. Using the device is simple: select a language, type into a cell phone wirelessly connected to the device, and hit Translate. She names her creation the “BabelFish Project,” a clear nod to her favorite movie. “I got inspired by the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, and I sourced the parts from the local hardware store for under $100. My dad helped too!” she said with a laugh, as her father, Hari, who happens to be a principal engineer in Intel Singapore, grinned along. Will there be a version 2.0? “Yup, I definitely want to iterate, and make the next version smaller, cheaper, and faster to run.”
Smart homes are just an app away – meet Gabe II, a Edison-powered smart home automation device dreamed up by a cross-functional team of makers from Intel Malaysia. By outfitting a mock home with IoT sensors that drip-feed information back to the cloud, this team showed how virtually every device in the house – lights, A/C, kitchen gadgets – could be turned on or off from a cellphone or tablet. Their booth drew big crowds, with some even asking if they could buy the device (sorry to disappoint: it’s prototype-only, for now).
Spiders may give you creepy crawlies, but judging from the huge crowds that inched in to view the Intel Hexapod “robot spiders,” probably not this one. Complete with six 3D-printed legs—first shown off at CES earlier this year—the hexapods dance in unison and respond to hand gestures. Here, Anuj Dua, who leads Intel’s marketing efforts in Asia Pacific and Japan, shows his two sons what the spiders are capable of doing. Dua is a budding Maker himself—at a press event held earlier, he shared how he built a simple hovercraft for his youngest son, cobbled together by nothing more than plastic sheets, duct tape, and a power tool.
If you love cool robots, you’ve got to meet Dr. Mike McCool. A principal engineer from Intel Japan and former university professor, McCool joined Intel six years ago when Intel acquired his software venture RapidMind. His latest creation—the three-wheeled OmniRover—requires no soldering, just assembly through plain old nuts, bolts, and glue. It drives itself through laser range-finders and positional sensors, scurrying around a table to the delight of kids cramming in to watch. Why robots? Why not? McCool hopes his creation will inspire Japanese school kids to pick up programming. His next project: building a tougher, grittier OmniRover to compete in Japan’s famed robot tournaments.
“I love my plants, but I hate watering them,” laughs Casey Kwan, gesturing to a spread of basil, thyme, and rosemary potted herbs laid out on a wooden shelf. The hardware engineer from Intel Singapore turned to technology, and created Soylent Green, a contraption that sips bottled water and spritzes plants on a preset schedule, all wirelessly managed via his cellphone. It took Kwan just 1 hour to write the device’s code. What’s next for this green-fingered engineer? “I want scale up, and have more sensors to monitor more plants,” he said. “Perhaps I’ll even hook up a webcam, so I can check in on them when I’m not around!”
For Moushumi Mazumdar, a strategic planning manager from Wireless Connectivity Solutions in Intel’s Communications and Devices Group (CDG), the concept behind the LED Light Cube – created by Intel engineer Raphael Hainneville – was simple: create something visually stunning. A tiny Edison chip controls a vast, 512-piece LED matrix, which pulses through 1000 different colors in sync to any song. Mazumdar said the creation can be used in any field, from concerts, and—burglars be warned—warding off intruders at home. “You can potentially scale this up for big entertainment venues,” Moushumi added, “or even have the LEDs glow blood-red as a visual deterrent when you approach.”

This content was originally published on the Intel Free Press website.

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