Mr Wesley Sim was just beginning his six-month internship at the Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) when he learnt of a problem the agency was grappling with. When a suspect's phone is seized, its data can be wiped via an external remote, leaving investigators with no evidence to work with.
The Temasek Polytechnic (TP) digital forensics student worked on developing a device that could block out phone signals and prevent the loss of evidence from a criminal's phone. Mr Sim experimented with different conductive metals to create a prototype, and also enhanced the final product with a built-in extraction tool as a fail-safe.
According to his supervisor at TP, Dr Yap Chern Nam, CNB may consider developing the box for future use.
Mr Sim, 21, who aspires to be a forensics analyst, said: "I see a need for a device like this as criminals are getting more IT-savvy and they are trying to find new ways to circumvent the law."
His invention was one of the 41 final-year projects by students from TP's School of Informatics and IT showcased at the school's InfoTech Day on campus yesterday.
Some of the students' ideas
Temasek Polytechnic's annual InfoTech Day showcased 41 final-year projects by graduating students from the School of Informatics and IT.
The projects were grouped under three areas of focus: growth and opportunities in artificial intelligence and analytics, next-generation security evolution, and the future of technology.
Students' innovations included a portal for scam reporting called "ScamDefender", which could be the beginning of a more vigilant community against online scams.
Another project on display, "Posturiser", is a mobile game that adopts a creative approach to promoting good posture. The game was developed with KK Women's and Children's Hospital.
Two students also worked with the Housing Board to create the Smart Distribution Board, which connects a household's electrical distribution board to a smartphone to track energy usage throughout the day.
The theme of the showcase this year was Disruptive Technologies: Threats And Opportunities.
Another project that aims to tackle evolving security threats is Clairvoyance, a behavioural analysis tool that detects unusual activity in virtual files and comes up with signatures that can block it.
The brains behind it, digital forensics student Chan Jian Hao, plans to become a malware reverse engineer and develop Singapore's cyber defence technology.
ST Electronics, where the 19-year-old interned last year, is using Clairvoyance in its Security Operation Centre .
The showcase also included projects such as MagixHome, a virtual reality (VR) application which gives home buyers an immersive exploration of home design.
Speaking on behalf of the three-man team, game design student Benedict Low said: "Our project connects designers and home owners. When designers come up with a floor plan, the home owners can view it in VR."
The team developed MagixHome with SKY Optimum Technology, an interactive technology company which has adopted the application for commercial use.
On his personal takeaway from the experience, Mr Sim said: "The entire project was an invaluable learning opportunity for me to practise and gain technical skills and competency in digital forensics.
"My motivation comes from my passion for the subject and my commitment to fighting crime."