Hello, Merlion

The Chronarium sleep laboratory (above), which lets people snooze in hammock-like nets; and the yellow sign (right) for the Hello Lamp Post project.
The Chronarium sleep laboratory, which lets people snooze in hammock-like nets; and the yellow sign (above) for the Hello Lamp Post project. PHOTOS: KUA CHEE SIONG, INFOCOMM DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY OF SINGAPORE
The Chronarium sleep laboratory (above), which lets people snooze in hammock-like nets; and the yellow sign (right) for the Hello Lamp Post project.
The Chronarium sleep laboratory (above), which lets people snooze in hammock-like nets; and the yellow sign for the Hello Lamp Post project.

Communicate with inanimate objects and take naps in public at inaugural tech and design festival

Over the next one week, when you walk past a lamp post in the city, look out for a bright yellow sign that says "talk to me".

You may also spot the same sign on other street fixtures such as postboxes, fire hydrants and bus stops, as well as at the Merlion statue at the Singapore River; Colombian artist Fernando Botero's Bird sculpture at UOB Plaza; and Chong Fah Cheong's "First Generation" bronze sculpture - depicting five boys jumping into the Singapore River - near the Fullerton Hotel.

Yes, these inanimate objects that populate the city are beckoning people to start a conversation with them - you first send a text to a specified number on the yellow sign and the object will then send back a question.

This project, titled Hello Lamp Post, is part of FutureEverything Singapore, a festival-within-a- festival that headlines the inaugural Festival Of Tech, which runs from today till next Sunday.

  • VIEW IT / FESTIVAL OF TECH

  • WHERE: Various locations


    WHEN: Festival runs from today till next Sunday; Chronarium Sleep Laboratory: today till next Thursday at The Cathay from 10am to 10pm; Signals Of Tomorrow Conference: next Saturday, 10.15am to 7pm


    ADMISSION: Free. Only 140 seats for the conference are available on a first-come, first-served basis


    INFO: www.festivaloftech.sg

FutureEverything Singapore is a collaboration between FutureEverything, a United Kingdom- based digital innovation laboratory and annual festival, and the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA).

Organised in conjunction with SG50, the Festival Of Tech combines arts, design and technology.

It aims to "encourage creativity and imagination which are vital to innovation in a Smart Nation", says Mr Steve Leonard, IDA's executive deputy chairman, referring to the nationwide effort to harness technology to improve daily life.

With the Hello Lamp Post initiative - which previously ran in cities such as Tokyo and Austin, Texas - creators Pan Studio from Britain is "keen to ask Singaporeans to look ahead and consider the impact that technology will have on their future lives", says founder and director Sam Hill.

Examples of questions posed by the street fixtures include, "If you were to give me a new name, what would that be?" and "What is a weird habit that you have?".

When you reply, the object will ask more questions or share what the person before you has answered.

Only street fixtures in the city area have the yellow signs.

But outside of the city, you can also "talk" to a fixture as long as it has a serial number on it and you follow the same format of initiating the conversation.

Besides talking to street lamps, people can also take naps in public at The Chronarium, a sleep laboratory located on the ground floor of The Cathay in Handy Road, from today till next Thursday.

They can rest for 15 minutes each time in hammock-like nets while being exposed to audio-visual stimuli that is said to promote a restorative and calm environment.

Creators Loop.pH aims to address the growing issue of people getting insufficient sleep in this digital age and how using public space as a shared resource can be a solution.

The Britain-based spacial laboratory is presenting this initiative - developed together with a sleep scientist and meditation expert - for the first time.

Ms Rachel Wingfield, founder and creative director of Loop.pH, says: "I believe we can use technology to reset our body clock and help us learn the skills of relaxation and rest."

Members of the public can also attend a conference, titled Signals Of Tomorrow, where experts from the public and private sectors will share ideas on how technology can improve people's lives.

The Straits Times will also run an online feature from today that documents Singapore's technological development over 35 years, since the National Computer Board was set up in 1981.

Says Mr Leonard: "The Festival Of Tech is more than just a festival to celebrate technology. In fact, we see this as a festival to celebrate creativity, which is at the very heart of technological innovations today."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 10, 2015, with the headline 'Hello, Merlion'. Print Edition | Subscribe