Monday 20 August 2012

Residents, students come up with "cool ideas" for better HDB living

By Claire Huang, Channel NewsAsia, 18 Aug 2012

Residents and students have come up with 88 innovations as part of the "Cool Ideas for Better HDB Living" initiative.

The initiative was first mooted by Minister for National Development Khaw Boon Wan in June 2011. He had invited the public to help solve daily issues and to improve the living environment in Housing and Development Board (HDB) estates.

The prototypes of the 15 winning innovations will be showcased at an exhibition from August 18 to 20 at the Toa Payoh HDB Mall Atrium. Visitors can choose their favourite invention for the "People's Choice Award of the Year".

One of the winning innovations is the "iStepup", a retractable three-step stairs which flatten into a ramp to make it easier for those in a wheelchair to move around.

It was designed by a team of three students from Temasek Polytechnic.

Team member Nadia Sulaiman said: "For the elderly, the steps are wider and it'd actually fold down into a ramp so it's easier for them to go in and out of their houses. Since there's also a railing, it provides more support for them."

Another winning design is an adjustable toilet seat with armrests to help older folks sit and stand more easily.

And for those who want a garden corner at home, there is the sustainable plant box. The plant is grown in a container which has holes at the bottom and is stacked onto another container.

The holes allow water to flow into the lower box. The water can then be re-used to water the plant. They also prevent mosquitoes from breeding.

Another winning innovation is a retractable laundry pole invention which promises to make hanging clothes out to dry easier.

The prototype, which reduces the risk of leaning too far out of windows to hang clothes, is being tested in four HDB households.

Mr Khaw said the tests were needed to see how the ideas work out in practice.

"What looks promising on drawing board may fail when put to the test and that's why we need prototypes and we need pilots to see which works for the users," he said.

The minister also said that HDB was working with SPRING Singapore to see if the participants behind the innovations exhibited could benefit from existing SPRING Singapore schemes.

Senior Minister of State for National Development Lee Yi Shyan said one of the schemes is the Technology Enterprise Commercialisation Scheme, under which SPRING Singapore will help finance the prototypes into commercialised products.

"Companies can receive up to S$200,000 in scaling up a product that can be commercialised. But of course, for ideas that reach that stage, they must be able to meet the criteria of SPRING," Mr Lee said.

"When they're commercialised, they will be subject to market testing and of course become available to people who want to install them."

The ministry plans to continue to using the initiative to explore ways to further improve HDB living.

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