Final project update

Voice recognition is a driving element in our voice activated project. We had the choice of using voice control either through mobile input via Android phone (AMR App) or a voice recognition component itself. In such projects, things usually work through trial and error hence we decided to test out the Voice Recognition V3.


How the VR works

The module requires you to speak the commands several times to ‘train’ the device to pick up your speech before registering it. We expected it to be fairly simple.

Test and outcome

For a trial, we recorded the basic ‘on’ and ‘off’ voice command using my voice. We then tried to use each of our voices to speak into the mic to test if it picks up different voices. To our horror (and frustration), it was already difficult to pick up my voice, which was what was used to record and train the commands.

Therefore, we have decided to stick to the AMR voice recognition as it detects phonemes of the word, in contrast to the VR module that picks up the way a person speaks. This could be rather limiting for the VR module.


Also, we find that throughout this process of the project, it’s also helping us to enunciate our speech better. This could be a possible alternative use for this project.

Individual Presentation: Wearables

Image result for wearables gif

Zooming into the payments field, my presentation dives into the area of wearable payment devices. Going even more focused, I made an in-depth analysis of the Garmin HR Vivosmart with Ez-link contactless payment that was hardly known to anyone in Singapore.

Therefore I came up with this thesis:

Contactless payments wearables have not penetrated into the local market because their convenience do not overweigh their pricey cost.


Before I go on, let’s rewind to the new trends I presented in class..


New Trends – Institutions Implementing Wearables

  • Possibility of wearables entering the market tied through school programmes

Cashless payments in NTU

  • NTU Students are now able to have an all-in-one device for cashless payments
  • Wearable device also serves as Student ID/matriculation card

So I was just joking about having a matriculation card and all these payments incorporated into one device but in latest news…

Apparently, the newest matriculation card issued enables NETSflash pay when going aboard buses too. Why not amalgamate these ideas and create a wearable unique to NTU students?

I found this really timely and fascinating because of how it was rather in-tuned with my hypothesis

Image result for cool gif

…Back to this

Before going into the case study, I surfaced the top three principles that sets the ground of the validity of a wearable device

1.Starts from the human, not the machine

Wearable technology design should start from a human problem, and then evaluate viable technology solutions. It should not start from a particular technology solution looking for places to impose its presence.

2. Capitalizes on existing behavior

To earn the privilege of being worn, wearable design should evoke a feeling of the device as a natural extension of the person. It should not require the person to adapt or force new behavior.

3. Requests attention, does not demand it 

Because it is with you everywhere, wearable tech should honor the present moment, not distract from it. In doing so, it permits the wearer to remain in the moment, and for others around the wearer to do the same.


Hence, presenting the Garmin Vivosmart HR with Ezlink

Image result for garmin vivo ezlink

NFC payment feature

  • Near Field Communication radius of about 4 cm provides a wireless connection between your device and another

Look and feelImage result for garmin vivo ezlink

  • Simple and sleek
  • Only in three colours
  • Adjustable strap with 14 slots
  • Fits well for wrists  6″- 10″ in diameter.

User Experience

Taking buses

  • Takes a tad longer (0.5s) to be be processed
  • Better to choose the terminal of the side you’re wearing
  • Plus feature: Able to access last 6 Ez-link transaction records

Taking MRT

  • Placing of terminal points
  • Slightly trickier for those wearing it on their left

Paying for merchandise

  • Number of merchants that accept EZ-link as a form of contactless payment but that list is not extensive

Battery Life

  • Up to 5 days in a single charge (with activity tracking, smart notifications and all day heart rate turned on)
  • NFC capabilities still works after battery is flat (8 hours)

Other Features

  • 24/7 activity tracker
  • Measures steps, distance, calories, heart rate, floors climbed, active minutes
  • Measures heart rate and calories burnt
  • Find my iPhone Feature
  • Smart notifications

Paired Mobile App UI ?

The mobile app tied to the device is pretty neat and intuitive

Pros ?

  • Lightweight & ergonomic
  • Waterproof up to 50m
  • Up to 5 days battery life
  • Secure* (Payment terminal thefts in Europe)


  • Limited range of designs
  • Limited ezlink payment terminals
  • Functionalities can be carried out with mobile phone app
  • PRICE!!!

Overall, a 6/10 as the price is really a huge-concern here. (Especially with Singaporeans)

NFC Payment Ring

A short note on this wearable device since I’m doing on this topic – I had the chance to use these rings at the Visa Summer Interns summit in San Francisco back in July. In the video, I’m making payment for my drink at the Contactless Cafe using the NFC ring. In short, these are the pros and cons


  • No battery needed. This is one of the best advantage of a device as it doesn’t rely on any charging, but just the chip in it
  • Price. These are relatively affordable ranging from $20-$60.


  • Sizes. Perfect fit is fairly important for wearables. However, these come In only two to three sizes. Rather absurd as rings are usually custom made for their sizes. Mine almost flew out as it was really insecure

Future of wearables

For wearable devices, many factors come into play like price, fit, fashion factor, ergonomic level etc. It seems to be taking off overseas especially for fitbits and other fitness related wearables. However, the device’s convenience has to work on its standard if it wants to see the increase of users locally.

Link to Google slides


Device of the week 4: Project Jacquard – Google and Levi’s wearable

Being more into up-to-date interactive gadgets in the market, here’s Google and Levi’s Project Jacquard (USD $350), a piece of smart clothing that will be available online from today 2nd Oct on wards. About its collaboration, Google developed Jacquard, a technology that can be woven into fabrics. As for Levi’s, it is the first brand to use the technology, and used its classic commuter trucker jacket to house it all.

Aimed at cyclists, this smart denim jacket allows users to customise their experience and get a variety of services be it maps or music directly from the jacket sleeve.

Project Jacquard guide: The lowdown on Google and Levi's smart jacket

This means dismissing calls, getting directions, switching music and even reading messages out loud with the paired headset or its speaker just by swiping the sleeve or tapping it.


For this Commuter Jacket, it uses an interactive yarn to build the touch and gesture sensitive areas on the sleeve, where sensor grids can be created for even larger interactive surfaces. This allows designers to take advantage of LEDs, haptic and other outputs to provide feedback for the user.

The fibres are linked to a detachable smart tag which attaches itself on the cuff, which provides connectivity to your smartphone. This is removable and could be plugged into a USB port to charge it up.


  • Well-packaged

A collaboration of two big brands is one way to attain brand credibility and trust of a buyer, hence buying reach of wearable technology. This collaboration is an important move as not only it fulfilled its aesthetics component, but it is also one of the most sleek and stylish wearables to date equipped with smart capabilities. If there is indeed a breakthrough in this product, it could lead to the rise of more iconic brands collaborating with technologies to create more wearables, expanding the market.



  • Limiting gestures

There are only three types of gestures detected for this wearable. It may be a tad bit limiting to adhere to these such few gestures moreover, while on the road. Following the wearable principle, wearable technology design should start from the human, not the machine. Hence, the aspect of human-centered design can be further developed.

  • Fabric vulnerability

With the nature of a clothing aimed at cyclists, there’s a high chance that this needs to be washed after sweaty rides. However, it was mentioned that this jacket could be washed a maximum of 10 times before it stops working. However, the material of yarn is limiting its shelf life despite its stylist exterior and capabilities as a wearable device. Hence, more research & development will be needed to cover up this product’s flaw.


As a cyclist myself, I’d have a user inclination to use voice command if wearing this set of smart clothing kit, instead of lifting my grip off the bar to do swipes. Perhaps the makers could incorporate voice sensors into the smart chip around the collars of the jacket. This would create a hands-free device that changes my music, gives me directions and reads my messages aloud which is indeed more spectacular than needing gestures to perform an action.

Device of the week 3: Amazon Dash Wand with Alexa – Wireless assistant

Groceries have never been easier. And humans have never been lazier. This device helps you find recipes, convert cups to ounces, buy and reorder essentials, find nearby restaurants and more – all you have to do is say it or scan a barcode.

Image result for amazon dash wand

The amazon Dash Wand is wireless and runs on double AA batteries. Also, a phone will be needed to register this device for it to run. Being voice activated, a user just simply needs to mention the dish they want to cook eg. ‘mushroom alfredo pasta’, and Alexa (a Siri equivalent) replies with the ingredients needed.

It is a true household device as you’re also able to command the device using your voice to dim the lights, lock the door, control temperatures and more.

Image result for amazon dash wand


  • Well-designed

The item is water-resistant and this is an extremely practical point as the device will be highly found in the kitchen in the danger of liquid items. Furthermore, some thought also went behind the item’s placement where having a magnetic feature can allow users to stick it on the fridge where the groceries are found.

  • Convenient and handy item

The amazon dash wand saves you the extra effort and clicks to manually search for recipes or the time of your order arrival etc. This gives it some magic in its user experience by saving them time and getting things on the go with such minimal effort. You are now able to control different house appliances with your voice using this device.

Image result for amazon dash wand


  • Close product features to Siri and apps

However, while it all seems magical – it seems to remind me of Apple’s Siri altogether. The same level of features can be done on the Siri App, apart from being directly linked to the Amazon app, which is actually not much a biggie here. The other functions are also similar to other internet of things such as a house appliance app that acts as a remote control.

  • Magic of device.. isn’t really that magical

It may seem really fuss-free and convenient to say something and have it added to your grocery list but the user still has to open the phone app to manually check out after adding it into their list. Hence, the device seems to create a superficial sense of convenience and luxury, where the main functionality can be further improved.

Improvements to the device


This device can be configured in several languages, which gives it a potential to be used also as a portable language translation device. Currently, it detects English (U.S., UK), German, French (France, Canada), Italian, Spanish (Spain, Mexico, Argentina, Chile, Colombia), Portuguese (Brazil), Japanese, Chinese (Simplified), Russian, or Dutch. Hence, it will be innovative to make use of this feature as a helpful cross-cultural communication tool.

Portable Language Translation Device

A portable language translation device. A way to accentuate its value as a useful interactive device for its market would be to combine the functions of these two devices together.

Alternative uses

  • Question-and-answer device

With its portable size and interactive voice command feature, it is handy for a question-and-answer situations. Therefore, it can be used for a wide spectrum of scenarios. For instance, in the museum, where visitors who want to know more about the artworks can use this device and saves the scheduled physical tours and guides. It could also be used as a device to provide directions when entering a huge venue eg. themepark or mall, where users can collect these device at the entry. This saves them the trouble of downloading apps to facilitate their trip.

In general, this device is useful but slightly impractical as its features could be embedded into a phone app itself to command instructions to appliances.






Device of the week 2: Sensory substitution device – EyeMusic

When I asked my friends if they think it’s possible to see with their ears, they looked at me as if I was absurd. Indeed it sounds out of your mind at your first time hearing that. However, it’s been long known that blind people are able to compensate for their loss of sight by using other senses, relying on sound and touch to help them “see” the world. It was indeed made possible with a sensory substitution device (SSD), named EyeMusic.


Image result for eyemusic device

Made possible by a team of researchers from Hebrew University in Jerusalem, they’ve created a software programme that translates visuals into audio that enables the blind to “see”. The device itself looks like any normal pair of sunglasses but with a special camera implanted on it and passes this data on particular sensors.

Image result for eyemusic device

Using a range of musical tones, it develops a precise combination of melodies and sounds, various for each and every of the objects of the environment. For example, using EyeMusic people can distinguish an apple from a banana or an orange from a lemon, barely touching the fruit.

Image result for eyemusic device

It works by representing the height of objects by the pitch of the sound – tall objects are high-pitch; low objects are lower pitch. The width of an object is represented by the duration of the sound while colour is represented by different musical instruments including the violin, trumpet and organ and different colour.

Pros and cons

  • Brain stimulation

An advantage of this device is definitely how it has provided the opportunity to the visually impaired to experience a sense of sight, through the use of pitch, tone, duration etc to identify an object. Some might not have experienced anything close to visuals in their lifetime but this sensory substitution device allows them to do so, activating a very specific area of the visual cortex

  • Distinctiveness

An interesting feature of EyeMusic is that it distinguishes not only different but specific shades of a colour, with every shade assigned a tone. This comes in handy when needed to separate objects distinctively where the tone of the object is important.



  • PortabilityThe device itself is a wearable and easily portable, making it convenient for the user. However, it seems that this version needs to be connected to another device (laptop/computer) for it to work. This leads us to the next disadvantageNew technology
  • Technology keeps up really fast and new technology offers more advanced ways of substituting sensory more than ever before. These exciting new devices can restore sight to the blind in ways never before thought possible. Eg. Google glasses, which are light and wearable on-the-go. EyeMusic has to constantly keep up to its game to match with the new technology or else it will turn obsolete

Alternative uses

  • Visual rehabilitation

Apart from providing as a sensory substitution device, it can be used for research purposes to study brain function. The information captured could help facilitate in other technology developments in the similar area or beyond.

Design tool

  • With the device’s distinguishing colour tone feature, that aspect of technology can be adopted for people doing colour theory/ design related works where colour is an important to deal with. It can help to minimize errors in the output of the work


Human+ Exhibition Review

This was one museum experience that was more memorable than any other trips I’ve been to – simply because I was perturbed.

I was perturbed after taking in everything and realizing the capabilities and advancement of technology and the impact on human race. It was directly impacting us. It could be you or me possibly turning into an android or cyborg in the future.

It was also the fact that these works are real and some of them really questioned my thoughts on moral dilemmas. It wasn’t difficult to spot someone in the exhibit giving the ‘what the heck’ look after looking at some of the works itself or the artist statements. Basically, the question was ‘Are these technologies contributing for the better or for the worse of mankind? Or was there an underlying purpose behind it?’

These works explore cultural shift and question belief systems upheld by religion as to the capabilities science and technology.

Several works definitely caught a hold on my attention (and soul) especially those that dealt with manipulation of life/lifespan – namely Afterlife by Auger Loizea , Transfigurations by Agatha Haines.

Afterlife by Auger Loizea, a project where technology acts to provide conclusive proof of life after death, life being contained in the battery.

Transfigurations by Agatha Haines, features sculptures of five babies each with a surgically implemented body modification.

These works evoked pure disturbance upon viewing them. I just felt dissonance knowing a person intentionally modifying the physical state of the human flesh what more a baby, ‘to solve potential problems’. What more, unlike plastic surgery, these modifications do not look very aesthetically pleasing. It’s simply morbid.

These babies look very Star Trek and indeed, an episode of Star Trek is called ‘Transfigurations’, the name of the piece itself.


In more relevance to interactive devices, a piece that triggered me had to be S.W.A.M.P, an improvised empathetic device I.E.D created by Matt Kenyon I Doug Easterly. This is a wearable device, on the other end of the glitz and glamour wearable spectrum.




 Artist statement of SWAMP I.E.D exhibited at ArtScience Museum Human+ exhibition


It is worn on the wearer’s arm, where an electric solenoid drives a needle into the wearer’s arm to draw blood whenever a U.S militant death is reported. The armband, like other inverse biotelemetry objects, acts as a transducer, interpreting and exchanging data between the realms of computers, meta-human activity, and individuals.

Just. what. the. heck.

SWAMP I.E.D, wearable device that displays the soldiers’ name, rank, cause of death and location and then triggers an electric solenoid to drive a needle into the wearer’s arm, drawing blood and immediate attention to the reality that a soldier has just died in the Iraq war.

I suppose the artist’s intention is to give real presence of pain and violence in the middle east to individuals out of this zone. The wearer’s emotional aspect also comes to play as the LED screen shows the name, rank and other personal details of the soldier that died in real time, as the needle drives into the wearer’s flesh, drawing blood.

One question is the problem of its data (software) and the triggering of needles (hardware) and their correspondence. As the famous phrase goes, ‘technology fails’. What happens if the data isn’t showing perfectly accurate information? Or what if the device malfunctions and triggers more times of what it needs to? Definitely precautions and checks can be taken but we can never be too sure of devices, gadgets or any piece of technology sometimes.

Also, dealing with blood, many precautionary matters in biotelemetry and its design has to be taken into account. Is there a limit to these needles surging into your arm a day? How long does the wearer have to pledge himself to the device to? How many countries/places will actually authorize blood drawing as a portable device?

Alternative uses

On its own, the concept of taking data statistic and sending an output of an action has great potential. However, I look at it as a possible healthcare tool by removing the inflection of pain and needles. Data is taken based on an individual’s health and it triggers a tight squeeze according to the severity of the stats – it could be used as a reminder for a medication intake or check.

But all in all, I am interested to know the development of this project and if the day comes where the usage of this device is in close proximity.  As a whole, it was indeed an eye-opening experience filled with thought-invoking pieces that made me see our world differently now with the state of our technology advancements.

Device of the week 1: Biometric Palm Payment – Hand Pay

With the advent of technology, we have seen a surge in contactless payment modes. Taking user convenience to the next level, palm vein biometric technology allows one to make payment with just a swipe of a hand. Hand Pay is done by scanning the veins of the shopper to verify their identity.

Hand Pay, a palm payment device, launched Lotte Card Korea is not in use in Singapore yet

How it works

It involves a series of sensors that utilize infrared light to identify a user’s palm vein pattern. The sensors generate a unique biometric template that is then matched against the palm print of a registered user, which takes just 30 seconds to register (scanning of palm and entering card details). A text message is then sent to their mobile phone with an activation link to a website, with payments taken directly from customer’s bank accounts twice a month.

Image result for handpay korea


  • Time & convenience

The process of scanning a user’s palm takes less than a minute and can yield a match in mere seconds. Once a user has been identified, they can make payment. Registering new users is also hassle-free

  • Security

In payments, security is seen as the most important factor. A great thing about biometric technology is that fingerprints, veins etc. need distinguishing biological traits unique to an individual in order to access control. Hence, this device increases security, lowering the risk of identity theft and frauds.


  • Adoption of technology

This technology was started in Sweden, started by a university student and aims to patent the system and expand it around the globe. However, not many countries have adopted it. It has not hit the shores of Singapore apart from the demo for Pyeongchang Winter Olympics workshop here, by Lotte Card Korea. In general, it will take awhile to get retailers to be bought over with a payment method, moreover a  new device like this. Also, their main target of customers might not conform to the technology if they have been comfortable with traditional payment methods, resulting in a small reach of users of the device.

  • Skeptics

Taking a look at the comment section of the video points out how skeptical people are in the technology. Could it be too convenient that it cannot be trusted? Will many be out of job next time with the advent of such technology? The plausible answers to these questions might be daunting.

Photo taken by myself during a Hand Pay demo during a Winter Olympics workshop held at Visa Singapore. A manager from Lotte Card Korea explains the usage of the palm print device

New application to the device


It could be used to replace anything used for payment namely cards, mobile and other wearables. For example, the Hand Pay can be used for payment in public transport, replacing the tapping of cards as commuters pass the gantry.

Also, entering venues such as concerts, theme parks and other events with crowds. With biometric capabilities, it keeps the queue short and lowers the risk of cheating the system for venues with crowds that enter and re-enter.

Project 1: Storyboarding and Ideation

Idea: Laser Tag Game using Arduino, Max and i-Cubex

Quick Ideation


  • Touch will light up the LED
  • Different pressure results in different light intensity

  • Colors range changes depending on pressure of grip

Area lights up accordingly as it gets hit

Putting the idea together

  • It eventually led up to an LED laser tag game with players in a dark room with maze/obstacles.
  • A lifespan bar will be lit (full LED strip) and reflected on walls/ceiling acting like a scoreboard.
  • 8 pressure sensors will be placed on players and points will be deducted when nerf gun bullets are shot on these spots.
  • Additional game component: pressure sensors hidden at various parts of the room. Press the activate more ‘life’


Sound activated when bullet hits pressure sensors. Light also changes from Red to green on LED strip when ‘hit’

(video to be added)