Flying the Singapore flag at IFA, Europe's largest consumer tech trade show

Flying the Singapore flag at the IFA trade show in Berlin are nine Singapore companies.

Actxa, Aztech, Charaku, IglooHome, Oaxis, Pundi X, Trek 2000, uHoo and Whyre make up the second-largest Singapore contingent since the Singaporean-German Chamber of Industry and Commerce (SGC) set up a Singapore pavilion at Europe's largest consumer electronics trade show in 2013. This year's IFA, which began on Sep 6 and ends today (Sep 11), has over 1,800 exhibitors spread over 38 halls spanning over 160,000 sq m.

For seven of the nine Singapore firms, this was also their first time exhibiting at IFA, said Mr Sofhian Suratman, a manager for international trade fairs at SGC.

Local firms that participate at IFA can save up to 70 per cent of expenses, including construction cost and rental of the Singapore pavilion, under Enterprise Singapore's International Marketing Activities Programme.

While the Singapore pavilion is relatively small at around 114 sq m, its location, nestled between two major halls, was "not bad because we are getting a lot of transit crowd and a lot of eyeballs," said Mr Ivan Mun, vice-president of product development at Aztech.

The local conglomerate was at IFA to raise its profile, as well as find partners to distribute its new KylaS range of smart home devices outside Singapore, said Mr Mun.

Unlike Aztech's current Kyla smart home devices, which were sourced from a Chinese firm, the new KylaS devices were designed in-house. They include a home monitoring station to measure temperature and air quality and a button that can be programmed to trigger preset routines or an emergency alert. They are likely to launch in Singapore by the end of the year.

Another first-time exhibitor at IFA was Trek 2000, creator of the USB thumb drive. Executive director Kuan Mun Kwong told The Straits Times that the firm was at IFA to look for distributors in Europe for its latest product, an all-in-one portable solid-state drive that can charge other devices wirelessly using its built-in battery. In addition, it can connect to devices through Wi-Fi without a cable and has a SD card slot.

 
 

Response has been quite positive, said Mr Kuan, who said that the portable drive is likely to launch in Singapore in the fourth quarter from US$199 (S$275).

Probably the most exotic tech product at the Singapore pavilion is a blockchain-powered smartphone from Pundi X. Blockchain technology uses a peer-to-peer network to securely record information, thus removing the need for a central trusted party to verify transactions and keep records.

Dubbed "Blok on Blok" or Bob for short, this US$599 smartphone offers a blockchain mode which transmits calls, text and other services through Pundi X's blockchain for privacy and security. Each of the estimated 5,000 Bob phones - to be launched by the end of the year - acts as a node in Pundi X's blockchain, like a peer-to-peer network.

The phone can also run Android apps like any Android smartphone when switched to "traditional mode". But Mr Soohan Han, Pundi X's director of marketing, said that the company is not a smartphone maker.

"What we are doing is to grow our ecosystem and get companies like telcos and smartphone makers to use our open-source software to build a version of a blockchain phone," he said.