by Jovita Ang
The winners of Samsung’s Solve for Tomorrow competition, First Words, intend to use their dialect translator application to bridge cultural differences across generations.
Ngee Ann Polytechnic’s team, First Words, emerged victorious at the inaugural Solve for Tomorrow competition in Singapore held on Nov 11.
The competition organised by Samsung Singapore saw six teams competing in the finals – three from local universities and three from polytechnics. However, First Words won the judges over with their app that automatically translates dialects into English.
First Words – comprising Keane Tay, 18; Devika Satheesh Panicker, 20, Nishok, 19, and Nicholas Lee, 18 – received a $10,000 cash prize, and will go on a study trip to Samsung’s headquarters in South Korea and get a chance to intern at Samsung Singapore.
The Samsung Solve for Tomorrow competition encourages students to leverage technology innovatively to address social issues in Singapore and conceptualise solutions that can benefit the local community.
The idea struck Keane Tay, a second-year Film, Sound & Video student, when his grandfather passed away in 2008. He “very much regretted not being able to know him better, to hear all of his stories” because of the communication barrier. Keane thought: “What if I could understand my grandfather when he spoke Teochew? What would he tell me, freed from the communication barrier?”
Recognising that dialects are dying among youths, Keane leveraged on cloud technology and speech recognition to develop the app.
“The young must have access to listening to the stories of old pioneers, and this app provides the heartfelt aspect….It can create a cross-cultural understanding and integration.”
– Ms Claire Chiang
Users will be able to upload their translation of certain phrases to the cloud for other users. In the case of any inaccuracies, users can provide feedback through the rating system.
Said one of the judges, Ms Claire Chiang, senior vice-president of Banyan Tree Holdings: “I like that they’re devising a tool that is for them, a discovery of an old language. The young must have access to listening to the stories of old pioneers, and this app provides the heartfelt aspect….It can create a cross-cultural understanding and integration.”
Another judge, Ms Karen Ngui, head of group strategic marketing and communications in DBS, said: “They were able to contextualise their solution. The stories they told were very heartfelt, something everyone could relate to – the simplicity of the idea, and the way it was built on basic human need to connect and build bonds, uniting the society.”
It took the team four months to complete the project. Their lack of expertise in technology made it tough to develop the app features.
Keane said: “We got help from a friend who knows coding. We have the idea, but lacked the technical know-how.”
Samsung will bring their concept to reality and award seed grants to all winning teams to bring their solutions to life.
With the seed grant, the team intends “to do more research to measure the feasibility of their idea in terms of software, and sit down with experts in coding, cloud technology and [various crucial elements]”.
“We want this to work. We don’t know how exactly it is going to work, so we need to talk to people who can help get us there. A team of four is not big enough,” said Keane.
Samsung Solve for Tomorrow winners (in order of final placing)
1. First Words (Ngee Ann Polytechnic) – Bridging communication barriers across generations with a
dialect translator mobile application.
2. We Assist You (WAY) (Nanyang Polytechnic) – Ensuring safety for the elderly by keeping them
connected to their caretakers through a mobile application and a specially designed product
called ‘WAY Band’.
3. ADAM & FRIENDS (Republic Polytechnic) – Helping dementia patients collect their memories
via a mobile application.
1. Samsung Eyenovation (Singapore Management University) – Treating lazy eye (amblyopia) in children
with a mobile application.
2. Team Envision (National University of Singapore) – A simple and intuitive function on mobile devices to better enable Singaporeans to help others.
3. SMaRT (National University of Singapore, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore University of Technology and Design) – Alleviating overcrowding in public trains by sending real-time information on the capacity of each MRT carriage via a mobile application.