Skip to main content

Advertisement

Advertisement

Innovation doesn’t just mean high-tech, as father-son team shows

SINGAPORE — Far from high-tech features or intricately engineered materials, the “innovation” behind the Grow-It-Yourself (GIY) Stick involves an unwanted plastic bottle and a strip of fabric.

Innovation doesn’t just mean high-tech, as father-son team shows

Calvin Soh (right) and Dylan Soh with the GIY stick. Photo: Wee Teck Hian/TODAY

SINGAPORE — Far from high-tech features or intricately engineered materials, the “innovation” behind the Grow-It-Yourself (GIY) Stick involves an unwanted plastic bottle and a strip of fabric.

The Singapore-made device, which waters plants, is the brainchild of father-son pair Calvin and Dylan Soh. The fabric strip acts as a wick for the GIY Stick, drawing water from the bottle into the soil via capillary action.

“It’s just physics and osmosis,” said 14-year-old Dylan. “Living in a city, people are often disconnected from nature. They are afraid that the plants (they grow) will die ... How do you make something that brings them closer to nature, and make farming possible and easy? That is how it started. It connects us to nature, without (us) having to go to other countries.”

Mr Soh, 48, added that the GIY Stick will not over- or under-water plants. The bottle is also easily refilled, while the cap prevents mosquitoes from breeding inside the bottle.

“It is helpful for busy people who travel a lot,” he said.

Within six months of its launch on fundraising platform Kickstarter, the GIY Stick is now 180 per cent funded. About S$35,000 has been pledged thus far, beyond the S$20,000 the inventors had hoped to raise.

They now sell about 10 GIY Sticks a day online — each costs S$10 — and are working on at least two other projects with a similar aim of enhancing urban farming here. Each stick is embossed with the words “Made in the Big Red Dot” — supporting the Sohs’ aspiration to see more home-grown inventors.

The Budget unveiled by Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat on Monday saw measures introduced to spur innovations, such as by supporting Singaporeans in venturing overseas, and helping businesses scale up.

Mr Soh and his children — he also has a daughter, Ava, 11 — started growing fruits and vegetables in their condominium balcony in 2008 as a hobby to relieve stress. 

The hobby grew into an urban farm — sustained mostly by GIY sticks — at the terrace house of Mr Soh’s mother at Telok Kurau, where the front and back yards are filled with a wide variety of crops and herbs, such as tomatoes, passion fruit, rosemary and basil.

Sometimes, neighbours drop by for a “farm-to-table meal”.

“This keeps my mother (who cooks and teaches cooking) occupied in a way she enjoys, and brings back some of the community spirit we used to have,” said Mr Soh.

This is also Calvin and Dylan Soh’s workspace, where they keep prototypes that “have not quite worked out”. 

Failures should not stop people from innovating, said Mr Soh. “The worst that can happen is you get another learning experience. We can all be innovators.”

The failures also serve as “learning experiences” for Dylan, he added. “As a father, my personal aim for this project is to teach him to invent his way out of a situation ... How to solve a pain point in the simplest way possible. Nobody cares whether the solution is high-tech, or makes use of a 1,000-year-old idea.” 

Related topics

Budget2017

Read more of the latest in

Advertisement

Popular

Advertisement

Stay in the know. Anytime. Anywhere.

Subscribe to get daily news updates, insights and must reads delivered straight to your inbox.

By clicking subscribe, I agree for my personal data to be used to send me TODAY newsletters, promotional offers and for research and analysis.

Aa