5 Local Engineering Innovations You May Have Missed This Year

Posted 6mth(s) ago Reading Time: A few minutes


It’s been a year. But us engineers are a tough lot, and we definitely didn’t let a global pandemic stop us from innovating. While we’ve worked hard to keep ourselves and our communities safe, we’ve also made breakthroughs in other areas, developing new chips, sensors, and aerogels that will propel us well into 2021. 

Here’s a round-up of some of the innovations from this year! 

The Chip That Protects Electronics in Space

Could your iPhone survive in space? Yes, but between the wild temperature swings in space and cosmic radiation, they would need some (okay, a lot) of help. 

Photo credit: National Technological University

Help often comes in small ways, like in the form of a chip. Known as the Latchup Detection and Protection (LDAP) chip, it can detect radiation and automatically shut down electronics to prevent them from being damaged. But more than just letting astronauts take better space selfies, this chip means satellite manufacturers will finally be able to use the latest consumer-grade electronics, like artificial intelligence chips, to improve the functionalities and performance of satellites. So, does this mean we’re one step closer to knowing more about space and even the possibility of a space-cation? 

The Highly Accurate Wearable for Knee Surgery Patients

Even after undergoing total knee replacement surgery, one in five patients here still do not regain full mobility. Engineering graduates Aaron Ramzee and Ricky Guo are determined to change this with their KIMIA Rehab Kit, a wearable device for more accurate remote rehabilitation monitoring. 

In a market where most existing wearables use Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU) sensors that can capture data about movement but are not designed for continuous monitoring. Instead, KIMIA is powered by a patented flexible sensor. These are smaller and less likely to move around, allowing the device to collect highly accurate data 24/7 and therapists can confidently rely on this data to track progress.  

Aaron and Ricky were recently crowned winners of Singapore’s James Dyson Award, and their device is being used in clinical trials in selected hospitals here! 

The Smart Glove That Can Be Used for Work or Play

Imagine a game of FIFA’21 where instead of using a controller, you just have to rotate your wrist to score that winning goal.  

This may soon become a reality, thanks to the InfinityGlove™, developed by a team of researchers from the National University of Singapore (NUS). Inspired by science fiction and you guessed it - Thanos’s world-ending weapon from The Avengers - the smart glove uses highly sensitive microfibre sensors so that you can remotely control your players using simple hand gestures. 

So far, 11 gestures have been mapped - enough for users to play games like Battlefield V. But the team is looking to extend the glove’s capabilities into more complex games, virtual reality and even everyday actions like moving through your presentation slides.  

The Hydrotherapy Tank You Can Take (Almost) Anywhere

There’s nothing better than a relaxing swim to escape Singapore’s sweltering heat. Swimming does more than just cool you down, it can also prevent muscle degradation through hydrotherapy. 

But not everyone has access to a swimming pool, especially the elderly who also face a higher risk of slipping around the edges of the pool. So, Sin Kwang Yang, a mechanical engineering student at Singapore Polytechnic, collaborated with Hydrolife to develop a portable hydrotherapy tank. While he had a prototype to work with, Kwang Yang had to re-design the piping systems of the tank and troubleshoot several issues along the way. 

Photo Credit: Singapore Polytechnic

With anti-slip flooring, handrails and even a ramp to make it wheelchair friendly, the portable tank is being tested by the seniors at Man Fut Tong Welfare Society activity centre as an exercise and rehabilitative treatment system. Here’s to more elderly-friendly products! 

The Aerogel That’s Made From Pineapple Leaves

Pineapples - we put them on our pizzas, make them into delicious tarts and even roll them on the floor for good luck. But for every 1kg that’s harvested, 3kg of waste in pineapple leaves are generated.  

Wanting to reduce this, a team of mechanical engineers from NUS have discovered new uses for the leaves. They’ve developed a chemical process to convert pineapple leaves into a light and biodegradable aerogel. When combined with other chemicals, it can absorb ethylene gas (the fruit ripening hormone), delaying the rotting process by at least two weeks. What’s more, the eco-aerogels can also be reused, further minimising waste. 

With two months left of 2020, there’s definitely still time for new ideas and breakthroughs. Not too bad at all for a year wrought with challenges on many fronts. Keep hustlin’ engineering fam, and we can’t wait to see what 2021 brings for us!  

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