The activities today were reasonably laid back and relaxed, as they were both specifically for tourists. In the morning, we visited Fusionworld, a subsidiary of A*Star that is designed to showcase some of the more ‘exciting’ recent scientific developments. We were shown various new technologies, including a computer game that is powered by brain wave activity and an interactive screen that is controlled using a laser pointer. I was particularly interested in the applications of these technologies. For example, the brain-wave game was designed specifically to improve the focus of children with ADHD, and there have been studies which have shown its effectiveness.
In the afternoon, we joined once again with international students in the Biodiversity Group, and together we visited Singapore Zoo. We were given a ‘behind-the-scenes’ pass, and we were educated on how the zoo functions in order to keep the animals happy and healthy, including feeding procedures, veterinary services and general zoo maintenance. In addition, we also had some time to walk freely around the zoo and visit all of the animals. As with the aquarium, I will let the photos describe this portion of the trip!
It has been a great day today as it was very relaxed and filled with fun in which we visited Fusionworld – Fusionopolis, and then the Singapore Zoo.
Fusionworld is similar to the Scienceworks museum in Melbourne where it displays new and exciting technology, however in Fusionworld it is all technology that has been created in institutes like A Star around Singapore. It was great to see products come from hard work at some of the institutes we visited and have them right in front of us. I hope that some day I can see products on display in a place like Fusionworld that I researched and worked hard on.
Some products within Fusionworld include a holographic display that you see upon entry, mirrors with cameras in them which can detect your gender and age and then display advertisements according to your profile, hospital beds that can non-invasively monitor your vital signs, video games that you control with your mind, and many other amazing products. I hope I can see some of these products in Melbourne in the not too distant future.
After the tour of Fusionworld was over they allowed us to go to the 23rd floor where they had a beautiful sky garden that was a great opportunity for some nice photos (See Gallery Above).
In the afternoon we met up once again with the biodiversity group and visited the Singapore Zoo for a behind the scenes tour. The first part of the behind the scenes tour was visiting the animal veterinary clinic where they treat sick and injured animals. The second part of the behind the scenes tour was where they prepare all the food for the animals. I did not enjoy this part of the tour as there was raw meat everywhere which gave of a foul smell. I was very happy to get out of there and be able to explore the zoo to see all the animals. A few of my favourites animals included the elephants, pygmy hippopotamus, white tigers, otters, and many others. See the Gallery above for some images.
This morning we went to Fusionopolis. They had a range of cool, new technologies there. For example, one of them was looking at brain activity to measure concentration; this made a character move forwards in a game. They tested it on kids with ADHD to see how it affected them, and the results showed they were more attentive after playing the game. Another technology they had there was using laser pointers on a board where it could be picked up, this enabled the projected screen to act like a touch screen but with a laser pointer instead.
Once we had finished looking at Fusionopolis, we had a little bit of free time to go back to our rooms, and get changed into something more comfortable before heading to our next destination.
The next place we went to was the zoo, where we went with the biodiversity students again. Looking at the facilities they had there was interesting, as we got to learn how they went about looking after the animals. After that we had free time to look at the animals if we wanted to. Some of the animals weren’t too interesting to look at as they weren’t doing much. The lemurs were the best that I saw as they weren’t scared of interacting with humans, so we were able to pet them without them caring.
We awoke to a wet morning from some rain in the night. I guess I slept through the thunder.
This made the whole day humid, but I think I am finally getting used to the climate here. First on the agenda was a trip to Fusionworld – Fusionopolis. Which was a part of the A*STAR institute which showcased its technologies to us in a gallery/guided tour format where we were taken on a guided tour of their facility. We started with a holographic promotional video which gave us back story to them.
They showed us billboards which adjust their advertisement to the demographic in highest proportion around it for targeted marketing, such as age and gender. Voice recognition technology which instantly translates to local south east Asian languages. A voice activated mobile phone prototype which is currently only available in china. We were then shown a new type of body amour which was able to massively reduce the amount of force from an impact. A demonstration showed the same impact going from 45 N to 11N which has great applications in nursing homes for patients who are prone to falling so they don’t break any bones. They were made from a non-Newtonian fluid like cornstarch. A lack of photos from all of these is that we were not allowed to take photos of what we saw except for one room. We were then shown a massive touch screen which has applications in medical teaching for students to interact and see what a full brain scan looked like, including all of the components of the head. The next was really cool, a video game which was controlled with your brain waves. Granted it was pretty basic as a concentrate to move forward, however the concept of it and the progress is pretty cool. We were then shown another medical technology which uses optic fibres to monitor a patient’s heart rate and respiratory rate without the need for any wires. The benefit of this is that if a patient has sleep apnoea or stops breathing, the nurses will be notified immediately. The next room confused me, all it had was dim lights and fans on the walls which activated when approached. I thought it may have been some cooling or air circulation technology, turns out it was just a room for us to relax in from the information we were being given.
The final room was fun, as it had a projector on one wall with a webcam watching the projected screen. They had developed a way for laser pointers to be used as pointers with tablet devices, which lead the two tables of students taking turns playing pong and ice hockey on the projector screen.
Last of all we were shown a soft toy. This responds to input from a user, as having pets in retirement homes helps boosts moral, this too is trying to use the same approach to help the elderly with depression and to give them companionship. It responded positively and negatively depending if you stroked it, hugged it, or even gave it a wack. Also if left unattended for an amount of time it would start making noise and provide feedback to the nurses of how it was treated which would reflect the moods of the elderly who had them. We were then taken to the Sky Garden which was a really nice and relaxing place with many greenery and a great view of Singapore.
From there we were dismissed and told to meet back at NUS at 1PM for a trip to the zoo.
We started the visit by meeting up with the exchange students from the biodiversity program again. Then were given back stage tours of the zoo including the food storage and kitchen for the animals, and the veterinary clinic which services all of them.
I then had a walk around the zoo for a while checking out a lot of the exhibits, including a show put on by some keepers and Asian elephants.
Overall the day was very nice, I got to see some new technologies and pretty animals while eating good food. What else would i want?
Today we visited another subsidiary of A*STAR, Fusionopolis. The best description I can think of is a science works (the Melbourne kids science facility to engage young people in science) level of science, if not less, to try and engage and sell their services to possible investors of A*STAR facilities in Singapore. Admittedly it was entertaining to see some novel technologies I had never seen before like a game controlled completely on how well you could concentrate or a hospital bed that had sensors for heart rate, breathing and movement built in. The game that operated on how well you could concentrate was marketed towards primary schools, to help students that suffer from ADHD learn to concentrate and block out external distractions. Though these and other technologies shown to us were quite enjoyable the level of science explained and presented was very low, especially when considering they got us to skip the “kids” area which was filled with what appeared to be Tron like bikes. I can understand that this was all made to engage possible corporations that had a little understanding of science as well as school groups of kids, but if the level of science was that low, the least they could have done was let us go on the Tron bikes, they looked fun.
In the afternoon we got to meet up with the Biodiversity students again (the students from the aquarium trip) but this time at the Singapore zoo. We were treated to a behind the scenes look at the zoo which included the veterinary clinic, the animal’s kitchen and the roofs that seem to have a constant drip of bat feces coming from them, it’s the only way to explain the amount of poo in some areas. After that we were set free in the zoo to observe all the animals in their “natural” habitats which in general were large in size for most but I sincerely hope that the few zebras and the like het to rotate into bigger fields from time to time. To be honest I’m still not 100% sure how I felt about the elephant shows. On one hand they were entertaining and showed a way of life in south east Asia, on the other though I felt kind of dirty watching these animals move logs and do tricks like spinning their trunks and going to sleep on command for our entertainment. I guess though it would be good for the elephants to be able to get out and have some enrichment and variety to their day to day lives rather than being cooped up in an enclosure day in and day out.