Book in using fingerprint scanner, sign weapons out with facial recognition tech at SAF's 'smart camps'

SINGAPORE - More army soldiers can soon use a fingerprint scanner to book into camp more quickly, use facial recognition to take out weapons without signing with pen and paper, and view their training schedules on-the-go on their smartphones.

At the "smart" workshop, servicemen can access digital manuals when doing maintenance work, while "smart" stores with computer visioning sensors provide real-time updates on equipment count.

These initiatives under the "Smart Camp" project by the Singapore Army are being trialled at two camps since March, and there are plans to expand this to more after the trial ends in September.

The project was among those showcased at the Ministry of Defence (Mindef) and the Singapore Armed Forces' annual Digital Innovation Day at Kranji Camp III on Thursday (May 9).

More than 4,000 Mindef and SAF personnel are expected to attend the event over two days.

In a speech at the opening ceremony, Senior Minister of State for Defence Heng Chee How said the Smart Camp initiatives have digitalised processes for greater efficiency, and provide greater convenience to servicemen.

He added that Singapore's Smart Nation vision, coupled with the numerous breakthroughs in artificial intelligence, robotics, and other technological fields, have created a strong environment for the SAF to enhance its defence capabilities through digital innovation.

The ceremony was attended by senior defence officials, including Chief of Defence Force Lieutenant-General Melvyn Ong, and Defence Science and Technology Agency (DSTA) chief executive Tan Peng Yam. 

The three service chiefs, Chief of Navy Rear-Admiral Lew Chuen Hong, Chief of Army Major-General Goh Si Hou, and Chief of Air Force Brigadier-General Kelvin Khong, were also present. 

Other projects showcased include a SafeGuardian app that allows servicemen to report near-miss incidents, receive live updates of weather forecasts and access safety directives without referring to physical copies.

The SafeGuardian app allows servicemen to report near-miss incidents, receive live updates of weather forecasts and access safety directives without referring to physical copies. ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

The app is a collaboration between the Republic of Singapore Navy and DSTA, and is currently on trial at the Tuas and Changi naval bases.

Under the Smart Camp project, first announced last year, there are the Smart Armskote, Cookhouse, Store, Workshop, and a smartphone app.

Other than using it to book in, the Camp Companion app also allows servicemen to access training programmes and daily instructions instead of referring to a physical notice board.


Soldiers can also submit a defect or hazard report through the mobile app. Photos can be taken through it such that pictures of camp premises are not saved on the smartphone.

The Smart Armskote and Smart Store allow soldiers to return their arms and stores respectively by scanning them at a kiosk, instead of filling up hardcopy records.

This transaction system, together with computer visioning sensors, provides real-time accounting of equipment.

Radio frequency identification (RFID) technology tags and weight sensors are also used to ensure soldiers draw the correct weapons.

Lieutenant-Colonel Tan Sheng Yang, head of the Army Digitalisation Office, said the Smart Camp project was started with the objectives of enhancing soldiers' experience and optimising work processes.

"We took reference from outside, looked at the Government's digitalisation initiatives, and thought that as technologies mature, it was timely for us to start adopting them to let our soldiers experience a more digital-enabled army," he told reporters during a media preview last Friday.

Corporal Dinesh Pannir, 19, an operator at the 10C4I Battalion at Stagmont Camp in Choa Chu Kang, said that using the fingerprint scanner has helped saved administrative work for soldiers like him.

"With the time saved from doing admin work, I can do other things for the company, like help out in the store or the manning of vehicles," said the full-time national serviceman.