Delicious secrets within these walls

Mr Manolo Cruz, a mechanical engineer at Hope Technik, wearing a exoskeleton suit.

Hope Technik's office building in Penjuru Close is a treasure chest of innovation and securely closeted projects in progress.

This is truly a house of cards. Access cards govern who gets into which areas in the three-storey building.

On the top floor is a room of top-secret projects. Access to this room requires a different set of cards.

This room is so secret that some staff have no idea what it holds.

However, on the second floor, which is also the production and office area, the meeting room doors were unlocked and Mr Peter Ho was more than willing to have some of the project leaders show off their projects there.

Digital Life takes a peek:

THE IRON MAN MACH ONE

The exoskeleton, with scratches on its metal frame and battle-worn exterior, hardly looked new.

Mr Manolo Cruz, its inventor, explained that this device is the first version of the company's mobile machine, which is four years old.

Designed to help soldiers carry weights they would normally be unable to support, the Mach One is unique in that it is not powered by an electrical source, yet it still manages to help its wearer lift up to 30kg.

This means the suit does not need to be recharged and that it can work under all weather conditions.

Unlike the exosuits worn by Tom Cruise in the movie, Edge Of Tomorrow, and by Matt Damon in the science-fiction thriller, Elysium, this device has only leg and back braces. It does not come with an upper arm brace. The weight is carried on the wearer's back.

Mr Cruz said they are already testing the Mach Three prototype, which is slimmer and lighter, but works just as effectively as the original.

Pointing to the left leg brace, Mr Cruz said: "This piece alone weighs 5kg. On the Mach Three, the entire exoskeleton weighs 5kg."

On a wall outside the Mach One's home was a drawing of man in a full exoskeleton suit, including the arm braces. His helmet looked similar to the one Iron Man has in the comics.

THE RED RHINO

In 2000, the Singapore Civil Defence Force introduced its Red Rhino Light Fire Attack Vehicle. In 2009, Hope Technik redesigned and rebuilt the vehicle.

The Red Rhino is more compact than a full-scale fire engine and has its own foam concentration tank.

The design team stripped out the frame from an existing four-wheel-drive vehicle and rebuilt it with fire-fighting equipment, on top of a stronger undercarriage and body frame.

The newest model, to be unveiled later this month, was parked in the company's garage.

OTHER PROJECTS

In another part of the garage, another team was working on the performance of the Sesto, a motorised platform for transporting a patient on a hospital bed. It needs only one person to operate.

Several interested parties have seen a demonstration and Hope Technik said it expects several local hospitals to put the Sesto to work by the end of the year.

Elsewhere in the building was the final version of a fall detector, a wall-mounted camera device which can send out an alert by SMS or MMS if it detects that a person has fallen down.

There was also something which could be the frame of a flying speedboat that can travel at 111kmh.

In addition, there was an SUV with its back seat removed. In its place were computers and mounted on its roof was a camera.

Outside a meeting room was a handwritten "Raintree Studios" sign. Inside, there was a huge table, which retained the outer bark of a tree as part of its design. On one wall was a drawing of two trees.

Not every room hides a deep, dark and delicious tech secret.

This article was published on Sept 3 in Digital Life, The Straits Times.

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