Trending May 2017

In this issue: Advancements in technology that will make our food more sustainable and food service more efficient, and developments in the use of wearable technology around the world.



Meaty ideas

Rearing animals for food is hard on the environment. So researchers are ramping up their work in producing lab-grown meat and extracting protein from plants and insects. Besides innovation for more sustainable food sources, the food industry will also be changed by technologies such as artificial intelligence and big data. FarmView, a US initiative, is working on automating agricultural processes. In one project, a robotic system moves through a field of cereal grains like a self-driving vehicle, using computer vision to detect signs of disease and lasers to measure plant growth. Meanwhile, fast-food chains are exploring big data to improve service. McDonalds, for example, is using data and trend analytics to study peak hours for drivethru orders and prepare for spikes in demand. Closer to home, SPRING Singapore is rolling out transformation roadmaps for the food services and food manufacturing industry. The Singapore Polytechnic’s Food Innovation & Resource Centre is already developing 3-D printed food with nutrients for elderly mobility, visual and brain health.


Watchful Wearables

A look at the use of wearable devices – fitness trackers, smart watches, or heart rate monitors – in healthcare and beyond.

The UK

wear-1In 2014, British Airways tested a “happiness blanket” that reflected volunteers’ moods by changing colours: red for unhappy, blue for calm. A headband fitted with neurosensors measured brainwave activity, which was transmitted to the blanket’s embedded LED lights. According to the airline, the blanket will help give feedback for improving in-flight perks, and detect when passengers are more likely to be stressed. More seriously, London-based BfB Labs created a video game to let young people practise regulating their emotional states. Role-playing as magicians, gamers control their performance by managing their heart rate, which is monitored via a wearable that provides “biofeedback”. This socalled Emotional Responsive Gaming responds to players’ breathing and heart rates, rewarding them for improving their mood. Read more:

The US

wear-2Research group Gartner forecasts that by 2018, some two million employees will be required to wear fitness trackers. This includes those whose health, sleep and stress levels directly affect work safety and performance, such as firefighters, paramedics, pilots and industrial workers. For employees that already use wearable tech for corporate wellness programmes, privacy remains a concern: tracking sleep patterns, for example, could be seen as too intrusive. Other unintended consequences of tracking staff health, Fast Company suggests, are demoralising those with health issues or alienating those who are reluctant to take part.


wear-3Participants of the Health Promotion Board (HPB)’s National Steps Challenge have the option of using a subsidised step tracker. Their daily step count, synced with other data such as age and gender, provides the HPB with a snapshot of how active people in Singapore are. Other uses of wearable devices are smart watches to make payments for retail purchases or transport fares. The Land Transport Authority is exploring this possibility together with Sony, SingTel, EZ-Link, Nets and TransitLink.

Sweden and Australia

wear-4Going beyond wearables to “embeddables”, several people have started implanting microchips under the skin of the hands. The chip, as tiny as a grain of rice, acts like an access card, using near field communication or RFID technology to unlock and open doors with a wave of a hand.


Legislation vs Regulation

A quick primer on the differences between the two.

Legislation (aka statutory law) can be divided into statutes and subsidiary legislation:
In summary, regulation is the restrictions or rules enforced by regulators (in the Executive arm of the government), to comply with laws, or legislation, passed by the Legislative arm (the President and Parliament of Singapore). Access them on Singapore Statutes Online:




Uncanny valley: The feelings of unease or revulsion towards robots or computer animations that almost, but not quite, resemble human beings. It is named for a distinctive dip in the relationship between human resemblance and emotional affinity, which increases as a robot becomes more human-like.

Crack team: A highly trained and competent team specialising in an area of expertise. E.g.,“GovTech is a 1,800-strong crack team of designers and engineers who play a big role in the Public Service’s tech transformation.”





Safety Officer, PUB Workplace Safety and Health

NTUC website: As a PUB Employees’ Union delegate, I let members know their rights as workers and the benefits they can tap. This website has plenty of information from tripartite news and events that touch every worker’s life.

Workplace Safety and Health (WSH) Bulletin: In this subscription newsletter service, the Ministry of Manpower, with the WSH Council, shares updates on worksite accidents and tips to avoid them. I disseminate these articles to the workers and staff I manage.


Executive (Total Defence Engagement), Nexus, MINDEF

Flipboard (iOS/Android): A free news and social media aggregator. You can add your favourite news sources and key word(s) to track the topics, issues and news that you are most interested in.

The Company of Cats: A great place to chill and unwind with a book and music while surrounded by a sweet bunch of rescue cats.

    May 12, 2017
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