News Details | 17-May-2012

From quirky to practical, NTU students create innovations to solve everyday problems

Waking up from one’s slumber in the morning can be a daily chore, especially after the piercing shrill of an alarm clock. But two student teams from the Nanyang Technological University (NTU) have separately found better ways to start the day – with clocks that emit a stimulating, peppermint fragrance or a noiseless, electric pulse when triggered.

It also takes an astute eye to notice the potential dangers on Singapore’s roads. One team has designed an early warning system to alert pedestrians of oncoming vehicles before they use a zebra crossing.

Another interesting invention - a pair of shoes that can harness the energy produced while you are walking and converts it into electricity. The soles of the shoes store the electricity which then can be used to charge an internal battery.

From the quirky to the practical, these are just a few of the 77 technological innovations developed by 560 second-year engineering students. The projects were presented at the 14th Engineering Innovation & Design (EID) Open House and Competition, held on Thursday, May 17.

Organised by the School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering (MAE), the annual event showcases innovative, working inventions by the School’s students, aimed at solving daily, real-world problems.

Group leader of the Zebra Crossing Warning System project, Lo Kar Koon elaborated on the practicality of their invention.

“When vehicles approach zebra crossings at about 50km/h, one wrong move by the driver or pedestrian could result in a fatal accident. We hope this project can help pedestrians take charge of their own safety, especially in a society where portable devices such as iPhones and MP3 players are a constant distraction,” said Kar Koon.

Group leader of the “Shh”Larm, a noiseless alarm clock, Tai Chi Loong, said the concept sprang from his personal experience of living in the campus hostel with his roommates. “My roommates didn’t enjoy being rudely awakened for 8:30am lectures along with me. So my group came up with this idea as we wanted to provide users and their roommates with a night of undisturbed sleep,” said 21-year-old Chi Loong.

Associate Professor Rajesh Piplani, Chairman of EID, said the open house gives students an opportunity to showcase their products to their peers and industry veterans.

“As this is an integral part of their second-year curriculum, the students were able to experience practical learning, to prepare themselves for an engineering or technopreneur career in today's demanding economy,” said Assoc Prof Piplani.”

“I am glad to see so many projects in the categories of ‘Health and Assistive Technology’ and ‘Energy and Environment’ – both of which are key issues facing Singapore society today.”

Among those present at the open house were some 30 representatives from the industry and research institutes, either as guests or judges for the competition.

The solutions explored this year were grouped under five categories: Lifestyle, Design & Innovation, Energy & Environment, Health & Assistive Technology, and Safety & Security. In each category, the top teams bag cash prizes of $1,200, $800, and $600 for the first, second, and third place respectively. There is also a consolation prize of $400.

Teams were judged based on potential market value, technological innovation, cost (development and material) and the ‘X-factor’. Prizes have been kindly sponsored by ST Engineering and the Housing Development Board.


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Media contact
Evelyn Choo
Assistant Manager
Corporate Communications Office
Nanyang Technological University
Tel: 6790 4714

About Nanyang Technological University

A research-intensive public university, Nanyang Technological University (NTU) has 33,500 undergraduate and postgraduate students in the colleges of Engineering, Business, Science, and Humanities, Arts, & Social Sciences.  In 2013, NTU will enrol the first batch of students at its new medical school, the Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine, which is set up jointly with Imperial College London.

NTU is also home to four world-class autonomous institutes – the National Institute of Education, S Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Earth Observatory of Singapore, and Singapore Centre on Environmental Life Sciences Engineering – and various leading research centres such as the Nanyang Environment & Water Research Institute (NEWRI) and Energy Research Institute @ NTU (ERI@N).

A fast-growing university with an international outlook, NTU is putting its global stamp on Five Peaks of Excellence: Sustainable Earth, Future Healthcare, New Media, New Silk Road, and Innovation Asia.

Besides the main Yunnan Garden campus, NTU also has a satellite campus in Singapore’s science and tech hub, one-north, and is setting up a third campus in Novena, Singapore’s medical district.

For more information, visit

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