24 May 2017 – A team of Computer Science (CS) and Communications and New Media (CNM) students came in second at the Human-Computer Interaction and User Experience Conference in Indonesia (CHIuXiD) 2017 Student Design Challenge, which was held in Jakarta from 18 to 19 April.

Seven finalist teams, including six from Jakarta and one from NUS, proposed solutions for contemporary socio-cultural issues and presented their findings in the finals.

The team, which comprised Year 4 CS students Tin Wei Yang and Edward Chu Gao Xi, Year 3 CS student Joseph Cheng and Year 4 CNM student Sharmaine Sie, designed a digital platform called Sungei Treasures. Sungei Road Thieves Market, the oldest and largest flea market in Singapore, will cease operations in July to make way for future residential development, so Sungei Treasures was designed to help the market’s vendors continue running their businesses online.

Speaking on behalf of the team, Wei Yang said that they first conducted field studies to understand the vendors’ needs. They learnt that the vendors were reluctant to switch from a bricks-and-mortar business to an online business because: 1) they preferred cash to cashless transactions, 2) they were worried about having to deliver items to consumers, with their age-related mobility issues, and 3) without a physical business base, it would be inconvenient for people to leave donations of second-hand items, and for them to sell the repackaged items.

With these concerns in mind, the team designed Sungei Treasures, which leverages on SingPost’s existing island-wide network of lockers, Pick Own Parcel Stations (POPStations). To address the issue of collecting donations and delivering sold items, they intend to make arrangements with SingPost so that vendors, donors and buyers can leave or collect items at their preferred POPStation. SingPost then manages the transfer of items between donors’ and vendors’, or vendors’ and buyers’, preferred POPStations.

Vendors and donors will be able to list their second-hand items on Sungei Treasures, in the same way anyone would for other similar trading apps, like Carousell. Vendors will be able to select items that donors have listed and use the in-app messaging service to make collection arrangements. Once the donated items have been cleaned and repackaged, vendors will be able to relist the items for sale on Sungei Treasures. Anyone using Sungei Treasures will be able to browse these listings and make purchases via online payment. The team also proposes that current POPStations be outfitted with ATMs that are able to receive information about transactions from Sungei Treasures and dispense cash payments to vendors as soon as they deliver the sold items to the POPStations.

The team believes that in order to design a product, it is important to first understand their users’ needs. Sharmaine said, “The vendors have rejected the idea of listing their items on eBay or Carousell and it’s difficult to empathise with them unless you’ve seen how they live, and learn their personal stories. If we are designing a product for users, then it’s only logical that we ask them for their feedback as we iterate the design along the way.” Edward added, “This experience has allowed us to apply the theories and concepts of user experience design to create a product that is both aesthetically pleasing and feasible in the long term.”

For coming in second, the team was awarded a cash prize of 5,000,000 rupiah.