Singapore, Chongqing firms ink 17 technology deals

(From left) Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) director of international platforms and partnerships Samantha Fok, SGTech chairman Wong Wai Meng, IMDA chief executive Lew Chuen Hong and IMDA assistant chief executive of technology and infrast
(From left) IMDA director of internationalisation platforms and partnerships Samantha Fok, SGTech chairman Wong Wai Meng, IMDA chief executive Lew Chuen Hong and IMDA assistant chief executive of technology and infrastructure group Philip Heah. ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

A Mandarin-speaking AI assistant for the elderly and an interactive platform touting Singapore's attractions to Chinese visitors on WeChat are among technology products that could be launched as a result of tie-ups inked between Singapore and Chongqing companies yesterday.

A total of 17 memorandums of understanding (MOUs) were signed as part of the third annual Smart China Expo, which was held in a virtual format for the first time.

The conference and exhibition, which saw the participation of 32 Singapore companies and organisations, were streamed live yesterday using a dedicated data link between the south-western Chinese city Chongqing and Singapore that was launched last year.

"Covid-19 has made 'going digital' central to everyday interaction. Like China and other economies, Singapore is keen to turn adversity into opportunity," said Manpower Minister Josephine Teo yesterday during the opening ceremony.

"This is even as we explore the use of digital technologies to unlock new value and business models in every sector of our economy."

Among the MOUs signed yesterday was one between local technology company AFPI and Chongqing tech firm Listen Data Technology to build a smart elder home-care system powered by AI.

AFPI is building the as-yet unnamed device which will be able to understand voice commands in Mandarin such as "I need help", while its Chongqing partner will gather the large amounts of data, such as voice samples, that the device needs to do its work. The device must be able to recognise different kinds of voices and intonation, for example.

"Our partner has all the contact points so that makes (collecting data) much easier than if we had to do it ourselves," said AFPI senior vice-president for business development John Tan.

He added that AFPI wants to roll out its first devices within a year.

Meanwhile, Singapore-based technology start-up Fooyo is developing an interactive platform that will promote Singapore's tourist attractions to visitors from China.

Fooyo, which also has offices in Chongqing, is working with tourism companies TTG Asia Media and TriStar International Event Management. The platform will sit on China's most popular messaging app WeChat, which has more than one billion active users.

Users can input their budget and intended length of stay into the platform, which will then generate a customised itinerary.

Fooyo co-founder Liu Yangfan said it is betting on China being one of the first countries to open cross-border travel with Singapore when the Covid-19 situation allows.

"With our platform, we're looking at and preparing for the potential resumption of travel after Covid-19."

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 16, 2020, with the headline Singapore, Chongqing firms ink 17 technology deals. Subscribe