Nov 11, 2013

    D-I-Y tech catching on in Singapore

    IT'S a do-it-yourself tech generation. The maker movement, which originated in the United States, is now attracting its share of tinkerers here.

    From an app which allows lights and air-conditioners to be controlled from a phone to a coffee drip made out of household items, more hobbyists and entrepreneurs here have been coming up with quirky innovations.

    Last year, 150 "makers" exhibited their creations in Singapore's inaugural Mini-Maker Faire. At this year's fair in July, 200 makers showed their work to over 5,000 visitors, said organiser the Science Centre.

    Customer-service engineer Rohaimi Mohamed, 32, who created robots which can paint graffiti on the floor, said: "It helps me combine my two hobbies - graffiti and electronics."

    Mr Torin Nguyen, 28, developed an app that allows users to control appliances, including TV sets, through a mobile phone.

    While he hopes to market his product, money is not the key motivation. The freelance software engineer said: "I gained so much knowledge in the process of making it."

    In the US, the annual Maker Faire attracts tens of thousands of visitors. Makers showcase their wares, which range from the strange to the practical.

    The growth of the maker culture can be attributed to affordable and easy-to-program hardware which lets geeks experiment without burning a hole in their pocket. Affordable 3-D printers also allow makers to create prototypes easily.

    Dr Eileen Tan, who organised the Singapore fair this year, said: "Combine this (hardware) with the Internet, where people share tutorials on how to use such tools, and this enables hobbyists to have more power to build the things they dream of."

    The Infocomm Development Authority (IDA) said it was developing the IDA Labs, a space where makers are encouraged to "tinker with technology".

    The Straits Times understands that a tender to design the IDA Labs has just been submitted.