Singapore Economic Board Sets Up SGD 50 Million AI Lab

Singapore Economic Board Sets Up SGD 50 Million AI Lab

June 24, 2020

Johnson Controls Partners with the Singapore Economic Development Board to set up a lab that drives AI-based innovations in cognitive built environment technologies. An investment of SGD 50 million is planned to help improve sustainable urban living.

Johnson Controls, with the support of the Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB), says it will set up a SGD 50 million innovation lab to pioneer a new branch of digital technology that blends building, spatial and behavioral data with analytics and machine learning.

Scheduled to open by the end of September 2020, the lab is expected to have more than 100 employees within four years.

Johnson Controls Vice President Digital Solutions Alvin Ng says the investment is part of Johnson Controls’ commitment to spearhead the creation and adoption of disruptive solutions for the built environment industry as well as to accelerate digital transformation.

“Urban living needs a reboot in the wake of a global pandemic. We see a renewed urgency to strengthen the resilience of our community and an opportunity to enhance sustainability. This innovation lab has a unique focus on the intersection of technology, people and space, creating new value for organizations and end users,” says Ng.

Ng says the lab will take on a multi-pronged strategy that covers research, collaboration, commercialization and implementation. The resulting slew of customizable, autonomous or voice-activated solutions will meet the expectant growth for contactless applications, following societal adoption of safety and social-distancing measures as the post-pandemic norm. Property owners, facilities managers, business users and building occupants are among the target groups expected to benefit.

A four-pronged approach will include:

Forming partnerships with key local research organizations to leverage Johnson Controls’ deep domain expertise in building technologies (such as heating ventilation, air-condition, lights, and security) to accelerate innovation in software engineering and product development. Key areas include edge devices, IoT and AI.

Working with property developers and building owners to create cognitive buildings that can understand, or even predict, occupants’ preferred ambient settings and recognize space usage patterns. Such innovation will improve energy usage, increase the commercial attractiveness of the property, and enhance its environmental, social and governance (ESG) metrics. This will be achieved by developing solutions that apply advanced algorithms to a mash of data sets collected from Johnson Controls’ open platform of building solutions, consumer wearables, networked devices, location data and Johnson Controls Digital Twin.

Building an ecosystem comprising lifestyle, fitness and smart furniture datapoints. The data can be used for designing business and personal spaces. For example, a workplace with flexible furniture can be configured into “pods” for private videoconferencing or extended to become “conversation lounges” for small group collaboration. Building occupants can also benefit from timed artificial lighting that mimics the changing natural lights throughout the day.

Engaging with professional bodies to deliver the new applications that impact the sustainability and resilience of local properties, as well as setting the standards for delivery of professional services in this field.

According to EDB Executive Vice President Tan Kong Hwee, Johnson Controls’ decision to set up its innovation lab in Singapore underscores Singapore’s attractiveness as a location for companies to develop and commercialize new digital solutions for the global market.

“We welcome Johnson Controls’ approach of partnering with the vibrant ecosystem in Singapore even as it plans to build a substantial development team in Singapore. We look forward to the impactful solutions that Johnson Controls will create, and the exciting job opportunities for Singaporeans in areas such as software engineering, data science and cybersecurity,” says Tan.

Commenting on the partnership, Johnson Controls Vice President Building Solutions Visal Leng says they are eager to partner with ‘like-minded’ talent.

“We are excited to partner with EDB and plug into the vibrant ecosystem in Singapore. As a pureplay intelligent buildings solutions provider, our depth of assets, resources, domain knowledge give us insights on the way forward for the built environment. This new innovation facility in Singapore will play a pre-eminent role in reshaping how we approach intelligent built environment technologies, and to attract like-minded talents who are eager to make a difference in Singapore and beyond,” says Leng.

(Ed. The Singapore Economic Development Board is a government agency under the Ministry of Trade and Industry. It is responsible for strategies that enhance Singapore’s position as a global centre for business, innovation, and talent.)