Home has taken on a whole new meaning in 2020, as we now spend between 30%-40% more of our time at home compared to pre-COVID days. Our living space has become a refuge, a workspace, and at times, might even feel like a cage as we grapple with work from home.
At the same time, we are getting reacquainted with our neighbourhoods a lot more, even as circuit breaker restrictions were lifted in June. We indulge in finding new nooks and crannies in our estates, learn to live with each other’s habits and adapt to working from home, sometimes in the most challenging of situations.
But we cannot deny that the idea of home has forever changed, and we need to look forward and redefine the future of home living. In its 10th year running, the HDB Cool Ideas platform has now taken on new meaning as this year’s participants reimagine how our homes and our neighbourhoods will look like in a post-pandemic society.
The HDB Cool Ideas platform comprises the HDB Cool Ideas Hack, which brought together 462 innovators to come together to hack the future of living back in September, and the HDB Cool Ideas Pre-accelerator, which funnels high potential teams from the hackathon into a 4 weeks programme to help the teams with prototype development, user validation and access to a network of corporate partners ready to adopt these ideas.
With over 80% of residents in Singapore living in a HDB apartment, the programme is one way to allow people from all walks of life to get involved in innovating the future of our HDB homes – from the space we live in, to the shared neighbourhood facilities that is made available for all to use, to even bringing back a kampung spirit in these structured environments.
And so on the afternoon of 4 November 2020, 14 early-stage teams pitched their ideas virtually to over 240 guests, to share some of the biggest challenges they see in our HDB homes, and bring forth ideas to help improve the future of living. The short duration for which the startups have been operating is by no means an indicator of the team’s achievements, as there were plenty of great solutions on display despite the founders only kickstarting the idea just mere weeks ago.
Durwin Ho, CEO of StartupX, kickstarted Pitch Day with words of encouragement to the teams, noting the journey they had gone through in a few short weeks, “The startup journey is never complete and it is never easy. The ups and downs you’ve experienced with your team…these are certainly not the easiest things to do as entrepreneurs, but essentially, that is what makes you stronger, better and more resistant. One day you will look back and smile at this journey, not because it was painful, but because it made you grow!”
Guest of honour Deputy CEO Ar. Fong Chun Wah shared, “In this third run of Cool Ideas Hack which was held in September, I was so encouraged to see more than 400 participants joining us that day despite the COVID-19 situation. In fact, this is really a first for us because this is the first time we are running a virtual hack.”
Jordan Dea Mattson, Site Director for Indeed.com, one of the mentors who had worked with the teams throughout the programme, applauded the teams for coming this far, noting that “While COVID-19 has been a big hit on us, it has brought issues that we have not followed up with for way too long to the surface and this is the opportunity for you to be part of building another future.”
Here’s a look at the 14 teams who graduated from the HDB Cool Ideas Hack Pre-accelerator:
MCBC is building an IoT-based robot that utilises ultrasonic waves to exterminate mosquito larvae growth. Placed in perimeter drains surrounding HDB blocks, the crawler will detect water levels and larvae in the drain using image recognition and kill the larvae using ultrasonic means.
Fall is the leading cause of hospitalisation among elderly, with almost 1 in 3 elderly reported falling down at home in 2019. Homepal is a digital home system that identifies falls and provides early response to tackle issue of falls among home alone elderlies.
Modular Wall provides compact wall modules that allow events to be set up in an easy and customisable manner. The Modular Wall system can easily be transported from venue to venue and reconfigured to fit different event needs.
GoFresh! is a IoT solution that aims to enhance the urban farming experience and increase success in indoor herbs cultivation through smart monitoring of plant growth, energy and water consumption.
Grow Your Own Greens
While community farming is set to grow, the current means of transaction for local produce remains physical and traditional. Grow Your Own Greens aims to build a community-based marketplace to connect community farmers to heartland residents, and promote farm-to-table and reduce food wastage.
Food Lah! is a SaaS platform that provides home cooks with the necessary tools to set up their digital stores and be “homepreneurs”. The platform allows chefs to focus on doing what they love, and takes care of everything else from planning, expense management, demand generation all the way up to payments and customer relationship management.
The Jungle Trail
The Jungle Trail collaborates with residents to co-create vibrant community murals of flora and fauna to adorn the walls of their common staircases. Inspired by DIY “Paint By Numbers” kits, the team uses a simple system of custom stencils and stamps to allow anyone to create The Jungle Trail.
The Community Composter
The Community Composter aims to achieve Zero Food Waste in households through their IoT-based community composter system, to be placed for convenience at the void decks of HDB flats. The team hopes to encourage daily collection of food waste, which will then be broken down into nutrient-rich compost for the neighbouring raised bed planter community gardens.
Post COVID-19, the number of home bakers have been on the rise as work from home becomes the norm and people find ways to occupy their time, or in some cases, find a new way to make a living. Kampong Buddy aims to build a community amongst home bakers and residents, and enable the discovery of home based business by their neighbours.
Fitness Monopoly aims to entice residents within HDB estates to get active by converting existing pathways into an urban scale fitness board game using floor art. The outdoor exercising trail will provide fun spaces for exercising, promote social interaction and encourage physical activities.
SG Resource Run
SG Resource Run aims to help Singaporean youths get fitter through their gaming app that encourages running through gamification. Filled with engaging features such as interactive progression that allows players to turn their distance run into in-game currencies, users can also team up and compete against each other through virtual runs.
HDB estates often have limited land space for residents to cultivate plants within their own homes. With Bio-kit’s stackable control planting kit integrated with IoT sensors, users will be able to grow crops in their homes and monitor the progress of the plant development with minimal care.
Balik Kampong aims to reignite the kampung spirit and bring the community closer together through technology by connecting like-minded residents living in the same neighbourhood. Through their app, residents will get to know neighbours with common interests, connect virtually, interact via discussion forums and chats and organise or participate in activities together.
SHEAL aims to bridge the communication gap between post stroke patients and their caregivers. Integrated with eye gaze tracking, computer vision as well as muscle sensors, SHEAL is designed to allow stroke patients suffering from the loss of communication abilities to convey their thoughts and motivate recovery of certain muscles through active usage.
My takeaways from winning HyperHack — The World’s First Sustainability Hackcelerator
Growing up, creative entrepreneurship was not something that was taught.
For example, we are currently running a new pre-accelerator program called “The Start”, where local startups aiming to create social impact vie for mentorships and sponsorship from Temasek.