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If you ever needed proof that the future is upon us, head down to the Suntec Convention & Exhibition Centre this Saturday. The Infocomm Development Authority (IDA) will be holding Singapore’s first ever tech carnival, and when we say everyone’s invited, we do mean everyone. There’re activities and competitions for kids, adults and senior citizens, proving once and for all that tech isn’t just for the young.

A perusal of the programme lineup feels like a surreal peek into the future. From drones soaring like birds in the sky to tofu that chimes like piano keys, the activities you’ll get to experience there promise to be nothing short of magical. Here, we’ve put together some of the best ones that you shouldn’t miss.

1. Drones weightlifting

Image Credit: The Straits Times
Image Credit: The Straits Times

Right now, drones are in that funny space between commonplace and futuristic. Less than two weeks ago, the Unmanned Aircraft Bill was introduced in Parliament, making it possible for you — yes, you — to fly lightweight drones without a permit. But it’s hard to imagine getting used to these agile aerial vehicles, not when they seem to have zipped straight out of a sci-fi movie.

You’ll likely spend most of your time at Saturday’s tech carnival with your face tilted to the skies — the’re plenty of programmes for you to get up close with drones and drone enthusiasts. For some excitement, head down to the Arena for a UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) competition, where participants will be pitting their drones against one another in terms of speed, weight lifting and precision landing. And since you’re there, you might as well sign up for an Experience Drones! workshop to get some hands-on experience piloting your own drones.

2. Tofu Piano 

Image Credit: tinkeracademy.com
Image Credit: tinkeracademy.com

Imagine touching a block of tofu and hearing it play a musical note. If that doesn’t completely blow your mind, just imagine putting a few tofu blocks together to form a piano, and using that to play some Beethoven.

That’s exactly what you’ll get to see — and hear — at IDA’s Tech Saturday. The Tofu Piano with Arduino workshop will be teaching you to turn regular blocks of tau kwa into piano keys through capacitive sensing. Unfortunately, the workshop is only for kids aged 7 to 12, with tofu piano only being featured in one other workshop for seniors aged 50 and above. Still, if you can’t get to play the tofu piano, you can at least watch: it’s a sight that’ll cause you to question everything you’ve ever thought about the humble tofu.

For the moment, just enjoy this video of a tofu piano being used to play “Mary Had A Little Lamb”.

3. RC Drift Car racing

Image Credit: www.speedhunters.com

Not a music geek? Well, if you’re looking for an adrenaline rush on Saturday, the carnival has just the thing for you. Besides the UAV competition, the Arena will be hosting another competition — this time with radio-controlled (RC) drift cars. The RC Drift Car Race will see RC enthusiasts pushing themselves to the limits of their designing and racing skills. With car parts specially customised via 3D printing by each drifter, both the races and the cars will be a thing of beauty to watch.

4. Hands-on robot building

Image Credit: www.boston.com

What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you hear “dystopian sci-fi flick”? The robot apocalypse trope is practically a cliché by now, but going by the ubiquity of robots at Saturday’s tech carnival, it looks like that future isn’t too far from us. If you’d like some firsthand experience with our future robot overlords, you can try out the Hands-on Tinkering with Arduino Robots workshop, where you’ll learn how to build and code your very own robots. Kids won’t be left out either, with two different workshops solely featuring bots: SumoBot: Introduction to LEGO Mindstorms Robotics and mOway Robots.

5. Traffic solutions for the future 

Image Credit: The Straits Times
Image Credit: The Straits Times

Most of us would agree that for tiny, highly developed Singapore, transportation is a critical issue. We have one of the world’s most efficient transport systems, but that doesn’t stop occasional transport problems from happening, or us from grumbling every time they occur.

At Saturday’s tech carnival, you’ll get a glimpse of some traffic solutions that might just help us get around more easily in time to come. The Kids’ Hackathon is a programme for teams of children aged 10 to 14 to design and develop some Smart Nation solutions to our transport woes. Considering that we can’t get away from being a commuter, this is one peek into the future that you won’t want to miss.

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