A winning idea, in four days

Participants of the InCube Innovation Challenge working in their glass cube at The URA Centre

A team from Singapore — including Year 4 NUS Mechanical Engineering student Jonita Chew, recent NUS Materials Science and Engineering graduate Mr Vishnu Saran Udayagiri and Year 3 NUS Business exchange student Victoria Faber — emerged as champions of the InCube Innovation Challenge organised by ETH Zurich (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich). The team’s five interdisciplinary and entrepreneurially-minded participants lived in a glass cube next to the URA Centre from 26 to 30 September to jointly define a real-world problem and transform their ideas into a prototype and a start-up pitch.

Their response to the theme of “Smart Construction Sites for a Smart Nation”? Omnisight — a 3D visualisation platform that boosts labour productivity with dynamic real-time worker allocation. Delays in the construction industry are common and expensive, with long waits for materials, equipment, transport, weather or instructions racking up costs of more than $130,000 a day. The team’s proposed software Omnisight digitalises the construction site, analyses worker activities and provides smart recommendations for supervisors to improve productivity on their sites.

The software uses activity recognition cameras installed on the workers’ vests to track their productivity. The data is visualised on a 3D model of the work site, where supervisors can get an overview of the number of workers on-site, the tasks they are working on, and if productivity is maximised. If the distribution is not optimal or if there are areas that require additional manpower, supervisors will be prompted to reallocate workers. Commands will then be issued to the workers in real-time.


Mr Vishnu (middle row, far left), Jonita (far right) and Victoria (2nd from right) with their teammates and facilitator

Now in its third year, this marks the first time that the competition organised by the ETH Entrepreneur Club at ETH Zurich has come to Singapore. The other 15 participants of this year’s InCube Innovation Challenge lived in glass cubes placed across Zurich, Switzerland.

Mr Vishnu said he found the experience an enriching one. “It taught me the power and importance of effective design thinking. When it’s properly utilised, the kind of insights we can obtain and the solution we can derive at is incredible… I also learnt the importance of managing expectations and perspectives of the whole team. All of my teammates are incredibly talented and capable people, so it’s crucial to ensure everyone’s voice is heard, and to do this we need to be self-aware, and practice empathy,” he shared.