25
February
2022
|
01:00
Asia/Singapore

SIT and Singapore Discovery Centre Strengthen Partnership to Benefit Singapore's Learning Community

There will be more opportunities to showcase SIT's innovative projects, such as the DIY Augmented Reality (DIYAR) goggles.

SIT’s very own Do-it-Yourself Augmented Reality (DIYAR) goggles is now on display at the X-Lab, located within Sandbox at Singapore Discovery Centre’s (SDC) Permanent Exhibits Gallery. The public can expect more of such showcases following a recent Memorandum of Understanding inked between the two parties to jointly drive innovation that will benefit the learning community in Singapore.

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The DIYAR goggles, a creation of SIT ICT faculty and students, is currently being showcased at the Singapore Discovery Centre. It serves as a low-cost educational tool for young learners to discover about advanced technologies such as Augmented Reality and 3D printing.

At the newly renovated X-Lab of the Singapore Discovery Centre’s (SDC) Permanent Exhibits Gallery – Sandbox, a group of students interact with hands-on immersive showcases, including a pair of squarish, deceptively simple-looking goggles that holds magic in their lens.

Donning their hand-crafted visors, the students see virtual toy helicopters and planes flying overhead. The area buzzes with excited chatter.

These 3D-printed goggles, called Do-it-Yourself Augmented Reality (DIYAR), harnesses the wizardry of AR for a learning purpose. The invention is the brainchild of the Singapore Institute of Technology’s (SIT) Infocomm Technology (ICT) cluster, serving as an educational tool to teach young learners about advanced technologies such as AR and 3D printing, while injecting an element of fun.

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SIT students’ DIYAR goggles is showcased at the X-Lab, located in the Permanent Exhibits Gallery – Sandbox, where SDC collaborates with IHLs to co-create and showcase innovative projects in immersive technologies.

“We want to encourage young learners to be curious about 3D technology through the key components that make up DIYAR,” shared  Assistant Professor Frank Guan, ICT, SIT. “It’s a very interactive experience.”

This unique, futuristic handicraft workshop – one of SDC’s newest attractions – is a key feature of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) recently established between the two organisations. The MOU marks SDC’s first with an autonomous university. Signed in January 2022, the agreement will see both parties work together to develop better capabilities in interactive technologies such as AR, Virtual Reality (VR) and digital media. The partnership includes opportunities to showcase more of such innovative projects by SIT at the X-Lab. 

DIYAR’s public display also marks a milestone for SIT. The university is Singapore’s first institute of higher learning to feature its own project at the X-Lab, following SDC’s reopening on 31 October 2020 after a six-month renovation. The space serves as a platform that provides a glimpse into the country’s future by showcasing potential new technologies that may be harnessed.

“One of SDC’s latest strategic thrusts is on digitalisation and providing visitors with immersive experiences,” noted Asst Prof Guan. “This provides a lot of opportunities for SIT students to apply their knowledge and skillsets to enhance SDC’s visitors learning experiences.”

From the Lab to the Public Eye

But such technologies are not only for fun and games. Describing VR and AR as the next generation of computing platforms, Asst Prof Guan also highlighted their importance in practical real-world uses.

“Immersive technology will allow users to intuitively and directly interact with physical objects and virtual content in an immersive environment,” he said.

Asst Prof Guan raised an example of how Singapore’s public transport sector has honed the skills of its operational staff by using AR technology. For instance, the virtual simulation of a bus breakdown allows them to practise diagnosing and fixing different problems – without the need to laboriously recreate any physical environmental constructs.

“These projects are targeted to provide realistic and immersive training environments,” he said. “It’s a major advantage.”

With such digital technologies already starting to play an important role in Singapore, SDC has looked to feature them prominently. Now, the MOU has provided the centre with a source of these innovations: SIT.

In turn, the university has a platform to publicly feature their own work, which will help raise the profile of its research efforts. DIYAR is already one such example. “We have quite a lot of applied research technologies and products,” said Asst Prof Guan. “SIT is taking this MOU as a starting point to have more of our inventions to be demonstrated at SDC.” 

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Senior management representatives from SDC and SIT at the MOU signing ceremony to signify intent in supporting research and development collaborations, innovation projects, as well as teaching and learning activities. From left: Ms Soo Hui Wah, Director, Strategic Partnerships, SDC; Mr Melvern Ong, Assistant Executive Director, SDC; A/Prof Ivan Lee, Vice President (Innovation), SIT; and Prof Ian McLoughlin, Cluster Director, Infocomm Technology, SIT.

Keeping an Eye on the Future

To demonstrate the full potential of these innovative displays for visitors, SDC staff will also need to be well-versed in them. That is where education – another key component of the MOU – comes in.

For instance, SIT plans to conduct a continuous education and training (CET) workshop for SDC staff that will broaden their knowledge on these sophisticated technologies. The university also aims to launch a CET course at the centre – aimed towards professionals in the digital industry wishing to upgrade their skills.

SIT students will now have the ideal place to apply what they have learnt in the classroom through the Integrated Work Study Programme (IWSP), which will see them attached to SDC for a year-long work programme. Some have already reaped the rewards. 

“My IWSP experience was great as I got exposure to new technologies and systems,” said Wong Shi Yan, an ICT (Software Engineering) graduate who is now a full-time SDC employee. During her work attachment last year, Shi Yan made major contributions by developing an interactive virtual map to help visitors better navigate their way around the centre, and also assisted with the centre’s website revamp.

“There is no doubt that this MOU will benefit both SDC and SIT,” said Asst Prof Guan. “We look forward to working together closely with SDC to drive innovation that will benefit the learning community in Singapore.”

 

Image credits: Singapore Discovery Centre.