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Eubiq: Redesigning the electrical outlet

In celebration of Singapore’s 49th National Day, Digital Life looks at the established and the unsung tech heroes of Singapore

Published on Aug 8, 2014 12:40 PM
 

Claim to fame: Eubiq produces a power track that allows special adaptors to be connected to it, to power devices. This eliminates the need for extension cords and power outlets.

Inventor and engineer Yong Choon, 68, did not start out looking to redesign the electrical outlet.

Back in 2000, all he wanted was a solution to the mess of electrical cables that extended across the factory floor of his Nutek electronics manufacturing facility.

Aside from being unsightly, the cable trail was also a workplace hazard.

Over the next six years, the Kuching-born entrepreneur spent several million dollars in developing prototypes for Eubiq, a power track that runs along the wall of a room. Users simply insert an adaptor anywhere along the track and insert a power cord into the adaptor.

This way, a power source is available anywhere around the room, without the need for an extension cord.

All adaptors connect to the track with a simple twist-to-lock mechanism.

Although the company's name is a portmanteau of "electrical ubiquity", many of its customers walk away with the impression that Eubiq originated in Germany and are always surprised to find out that it was founded in Singapore.

The product was originally marketed at businesses and offices. Eubiq has recently found a niche in the home and decor market, where home owners install power tracks along the walls of their kitchen and living rooms to power home electronics, without having to rewire their electrical outlets.

"We found that consumer sales were increasing and consumers make decisions faster than corporations," said Mr Yong, a graduate of the University of Tasmania, Australia.

With solutions that start from $99, Eubiq is now available in many overseas markets, including China and the Middle East. It is also making inroads into the health-care, education and travel sectors.

Eubiq's unique power tracks are now used in hospitals, such as the National University Hospital, Khoo Teck Puat Hospital and Tan Tock Seng Hospital; in schools, such as CHIJ Toa Payoh and Maris Stella High School; as well as in Emirates airport lounges around the world.

With two concept stores at IMM and Suntec City, and a third opening at Nex in Serangoon, the company, which has a staff of 65, is preparing to open 10 stores in Shanghai by the end of the year.

It used to work with partners and distributors in other markets, but it is now looking at opening a production factory in China, as its five-storey one in Joo Koon Crescent will soon be too small to meet its global production needs.

Established for an estimated $15 million, including research and development costs, the privately owned company is looking at $10 million in revenue by the year's end.

All Eubiq parts and products are now made, assembled and packaged locally, except for the nuts, screws and housing, Mr Yong said proudly.

Eubiq has also grown beyond simple power management. It is working with its Italian partner to come up with stand-alone tracks that can be used in meeting rooms, and has developed lights that can be plugged directly into the tracks.

It has also created proprietary cables that allow devices to be connected directly to the tracks, with Eubiq's plug-and-twist connector replacing a two- or three-pin plug.

Eventually, Mr Yong is banking on the ubiquitous presence of the power tracks, so that consumers no longer have to worry about the different power plugs adopted by countries around the world.

He said: "Consumers don't want to worry about the different plugs, and I think we have a chance to become a global standard with Eubiq."

By Sherwin Loh