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A mark of success: ST highlights three eco-friendly winners of the SG Mark

25 May 2019

Straits Times, 25 May 2019, A mark of success: ST highlights three eco-friendly winners of the SG Mark
 
Seniors may soon find it easier to carry just one card - and no cash - when they run errands and take public transport.
 
A contactless ATM card, which can be used to pay for public transport, aims to help seniors go cashless. Unlike an ez-link card, the card does not have to be topped up regularly.
 
The card - developed by DBS bank and part of the POSB Smart Senior project - also has a water-resistant "smart sleeve". Besides showing date and time, the sleeve acts as a fitness tracker to record daily steps.
 
This card and "smart sleeve", which DBS plans to launch at an unconfirmed date, is one of 81 projects that have been awarded the Singapore Good Design Mark (SG Mark) this year.
 
A smartwatch that allows kids to make contactless payment, called POSB Smart Buddy, was also awarded the SG Mark.
 
The annual award, which sets the benchmark for good design and quality, was launched in 2013 by the Design Business Chamber Singapore (DBCS) in partnership with the Japan Institute of Design Promotion.
 
This year's edition had more entries from small-and medium-sized enterprises and start-ups.
 
Entries for the award do not necessarily have to be produced, sold or used in Singapore. Projects awarded the SG Mark can carry the logo for a year. They will also automatically be in the running for the Japan Good Design Mark award.
 
This year's winning SG Mark designs run the gamut from furniture and personal hygiene products to mobile applications and architecture.
 
Among them are the Genie Pressure Booster hand shower by global plumbing manufacturer American Standard, which was awarded the top accolade - the Platinum award.
 
Using pressure-boosting and water-saving technology, the hand shower allows for a steady, soft spray of water regardless of water conditions. It is particularly useful in countries that experience water scarcity and low water pressure.
 
DBCS president Andrew Pang says: "Design doesn't exist in a vacuum. Beyond improving the aesthetics, design is a powerful tool which can be used to solve (real world) problems in a sustainable and engaging way."
 
SMART SYSTEM TO TRACK WATER USAGE
 
Singapore aims to reduce the amount of water used by each person daily to 130 litres by 2030, but most people likely do not keep tabs on how much water they use.
 
Last year, The Straits Times reported that each person used 143 litres daily in 2017.
 
Trentios IntelliHeat ($228) is a smart instant water heater system that aims to change that.
 
Developed by home electrical appliance firm Trends Home Electrical Singapore, under its in-house brand Trentios, the IntelliHeat enables users to monitor the amount of water they use for each shower, as well as cumulatively over a period of time.
 
Users can also set water-limit alerts via an interactive touchscreen, although water does not get cut off when users exceed the set alerts.
 
The screen also shows the water temperature and is housed in a waterproof casing.
 
IntelliHeat also works as an instant water heater, letting users do away with storage tank heaters.
 
The developers hope that by giving users real-time numbers on their water usage, it would encourage them to take shorter showers and turn off the tap where possible.
 
Just by cutting one's shower time by a minute, 9 litres of water can be saved, according to national water agency PUB.
 
Trends' managing director Joel Ho says: "By helping users be more conscious of their water usage while showering versus just looking at their utilities bill at the end of the month, the hope is they'll be more motivated to take active steps to conserve water."
 
Trentios IntelliHeat is sold online and at selected Home-Fix stores, FairPrice and Giant hypermarkets.
 
VERSATILE FURNITURE
 
As homes get smaller, furniture needs to work harder.
 
In collaboration with furniture brand Scanteak, nine final-year furniture design students from the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts (Nafa) came up with three multi-purpose furniture pieces that can be used in up to three different ways.
 
The three-piece furniture collection, called Nest, aims to solve the challenges of modern living in smaller spaces.
 
The students were mentored by Ms Wendy Chua, lead designer at Outofstock Design Studio.
 
The Borne desk ($959) is a simple writing table with a swivel extension that allows parent and child to work together while the Entente Divider ($399) can be used as a table divider, a dining table extension or as a console table on its own.
 
Teak-tok ($299), a casual side table, can be used as either a coffee table or a bookshelf, depending on how it is positioned.
 
Scanteak Singapore's chief executive Jamie Lim says the biggest challenge is creating furniture that not only looks good, but is also structurally stable.
 
She says: "It's easy to stabilise something by adding an extra line somewhere (in the design), but that would affect the aesthetics and stray from the designer's original plan.
 
"So the Nafa students had to hone their product design sensibilities and consider how practical the (overall) product can be."
 
All three pieces are available on the Scanteak website and in Scanteak Signature showrooms.
 
RECYCLE WITH AN APP
 
The karung guni trade is often thought to be a dying one, but an app that enables rag-and-bone men to zoom in on old newspapers waiting to be collected may be the way forward.
 
Called Honk! after the sound associated with the horn often used by karung guni, the app connects households with collectors and charities.
 
Households that want to recycle items such as newspapers, cardboard and electronic waste can post a photo on the app, which is then flashed onto a map of Singapore and updated in real time.
 
Karung guni and charities can also "check in" when they are in a neighbourhood and send out notifications to households. Both parties can then arrange for pick-up.
 
The app is created by Dr Lyle Fearnley, an assistant professor from the Singapore University of Technology and Design's (SUTD) humanities, arts and social sciences department, together with his engineering colleagues in SUTD's Lee Kuan Yew Centre for Innovative Cities department.
 
A pilot run was held in a handful of neighbourhoods, including Punggol and Boon Keng, where more than 200 households and three collectors signed up to use the app.
 
Rather than disrupting the existing karung guni system, Dr Fearnley says the app builds on and redesigns it so as to increase recycling rates.
 
He says: "It does so through design by overcoming several problems in the existing informal recycling sector, such as communication. This is particularly relevant as many new housing estate designs are not as conducive to karung guni as in the past."
 
Based on his studies, he notes that newer estates may have underground and multi-storey carparks that karung guni may not be able to access.
 
He is looking to partner other organisations to manage collection and to extend the system to collect other kinds of waste, such as food waste.