More than 40 students from the Singapore Management University (SMU), taking a new course on The Internet of Things (IoT), have recently showcased digital solutions to everyday real-world problems. The course requires them to “conceive practical systems to realize Smart Nation-related applications”, and the study of IoT is to imagine “an interconnecting network of millions of ‘things’, physical devices” communicating with one another and sharing information via the Internet with people.
One team of four students developed a web-based monitoring system called SupplyWatch, which will enable voluntary welfare organizations (VWOs) to tailor their food rations to the specific needs of their beneficiaries and to ensure that they supply the right amounts to households.
“Our IoT solutions (allow) the VWOs to monitor and make informed decisions on their deliveries and procurement process, so that they can effectively deliver what the beneficiaries really need,” said Don Teo Yuan Cheng, a 26-year-old team member.
The team has been working closely with a VWO, Shan You Counselling Centre, since the start of the year. The center distributes six types of food rations to about 200 families and individuals in need, and should it adopt the system, it would be able to track the exact quantities of food consumed in the households though Internet-connected weighing scales in real time.
“You can deliver (food to the needy), but don’t know whether they are eating it,” said Mr Tong Kin Muon, the center’s manager. “It is the first step — this is not the end of the project — I’m sure that somebody can take it further.”
Another system showcased was a working prototype of an application called “eyeGuide”, developed by a team of five students together with the Singapore Association of the Visually Handicapped.
The system allows visually handicapped individuals to receive auditory messages broadcasted from wireless Bluetooth beacons placed around an indoor area. For example, when a person has a smartphone and enters a shopping mall, he/she may be able to find his bearings and shop information through the audio prompts.
However, real-world challenges remain because IoT devices have to be backed by the necessary infrastructure, such as Internet access and sensors, for them to work.
“In a smart nation, we are talking about building infrastructure to make people smarter, to make societies better. So when we talk about smart infrastructures, one of the underlying key enablers would be the IoT,” said Associate Professor Tan Hwee Pink, from SMU’s School of Information Systems.
IoT Smart School
In a recent survey 46 percent of K-12 and higher-ed IT leaders said they believe an Internet of Things smart school — a school using Internet of Things devices to transform learning environments — will have a major impact in the next one to two years.
The Extreme Networks survey of more than 600 IT leaders notes that the scope of smart schools extends beyond traditional interactive classroom technologies and can include wearables, sensors located throughout classrooms, eBooks and tablets, collaborative classrooms, and smart lighting and HVAC. Besides, it found an increasing use of robots, augmented reality, facial recognition, parking sensors, attendance tracking, and 3D printers.
Benefits of smart school technology include increased student engagement, use of mobile learning, more personalized education, easier learning process for students, improved efficiency, better measurements of student success, and increased creativity. According to survey respondents, the most important factors that come with implementing smart school technology are reliable wi-fi and network bandwidth, professional development, network analytics, appropriate student devices, and well-designed collaborative learning.