SIT partners with Sixides to translate interior design ideas into visual recommendations and industry-standard quotes by harnessing the power of artificial intelligence and machine learning.
SINGAPORE, January 14, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — In Singapore, home renovation often evokes a duality of emotions. On the one hand, the excitement – finally, the house of his dreams would soon come true. On the other hand, worry – there is a problem with transparency in the interior design industry. Prices may not be what they should be and a designer’s skill cannot be easily assessed, so owners may not get what they pay for. A small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) seeks to disrupt the market by harnessing technology.
Sixids focuses on connecting homeowners and interior designers. In addition to championing transparency, the company recognizes that it are should be a process for owners to quickly and clearly communicate their design preferences and themes, as well as professionalize and accredit interior designers.
As a consumer-focused interior design platform, Sixides was looking for a partnership with an institute of higher education to implement its forward-thinking ideas. The company approached the Singapore Institute of Technology (SIT) to help translate its ideas to meet industry standards.
“The prospect of collaborating with a university to imagine, collaborate and realize projects is very exciting. With Design [email protected] ([email protected]), we can now bridge the gap between academia and the business world through projects from the real world, with real global results,” said Astley Ng, Managing Director, Sixides.
The university’s Infocomm Technology (ICT) faculty could help Sixides in the use of technology, while Design [email protected] would provide a certification program for accreditation. Sharing the same values as SIT, particularly in terms of design thinking, Sixides jumped at the exciting opportunity to collaborate.
“We have embarked on a series of projects with [email protected] that include artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning and industry skills upgrade courses that elevate industry standards, and we are exploring many more. [email protected] staff are very receptive to ideas and also actively contribute from their point of view. There is a tremendous synergy between the two parties, which stimulates creativity and dynamism”, added Mr. Ng.
For SIT, the feeling was mixed: what better way to expose its students to the industry than with real projects?
When artificial intelligence meets design
To solve the problem of transparency, Sixides and SIT embarked on a new frontier: AI.
“Sixides had a brilliant idea: if you are an owner and you see a piece of furniture that you like, take a picture of it and upload it to the Sixides platform. Sixides would then generate various possibilities of what interior designers can do for you.” mentioned Lecturer Scott Jones, ICT, SIT, who oversaw the project. “That’s where SIT came in – we provided the ICT skills and resources to help Sixides realize its vision.”
SIT has developed a machine learning algorithm that is trained to recognize design elements such as furniture, colors, materials and classify images according to a set of interior design themes. Finally, the system can allow consumers to receive instant, industry-standard quotes.
For the two SIT students involved in the AI project, this was nothing new – they had experience from a previous module. However, there was still a lot to learn.
“Every detail of each image plays an important role, from furniture to tiles. It affects how the images would be categorized as a theme,” said Nicholas Lim, now a 3rd year ICT (Software Engineering) student. “Knowing such intricate details really helped us design the AI model, making everything more accurate. It made me realize that every part of a user’s experience really matters.”
For machine learning to be as efficient as possible, hundreds or even thousands of images need to be downloaded. This proved difficult as the team constantly needed to find more footage. “Machine learning is a cycle that can be constantly improved. As Sixides uses it, it will continually improve as new images come in,” Jones said.
Now the pilot prototype, Electronic quote, is fully functional and ready to plug in.
Paving the future of interior design certification
As well as using technology to elevate the industry, Sixides felt that professionalizing the sector was also crucial. So he envisioned a system where interior designers could take courses and earn badges to showcase their unique skills and verifications. This would assure homeowners of the quality and standards of their interior designers.
“Sixides had already identified a core set of skills and SIT’s job was to provide a standard level for the courses, in which we have long experience,” said assistant professor Marc Teo from the Enterprise, Communication and Design cluster, who is a former architectural practitioner involved in course development. “We worked with Sixides to flesh out the different components of the planned training and come up with a skills framework that would meet the needs of the industry. The courses were also designed to engage adult learners through the integration of learning applied in the delivery of the training course content.”
The modular certification courses will be delivered not only by Sixides and SIT, but also by industry partners and experts. The program comprises four pillars (design, sustainability, constructability and project management) with three course levels, from basic to advanced.
For example, courses in sustainability and healthy interiors focus on sustainable practices and principles of interior design, from materials to interior spaces in general.
Classes will be open to working professionals from the second quarter of 2022 until SITTO LEARN Professional development, the lifelong learning division of SIT. “We are hoping to hold physical classes due to the nature of the practice,” Assistant Professor Teo said. “Sixides is already working on corporate membership.”
Associate Professor Agnes Xue, Head, [email protected], looks forward to working with other industry partners willing to adopt a user-centric model. “We support industry partners, especially SMEs, through design-driven collaborative projects to move up the innovation value chain.”
Sixides is one such partner that has benefited from the collaboration. “I believe that as more companies pivot (to technology platforms), many will realize the value of critical thinking – a core subject in creative learning, especially during design work. The trajectory of [email protected] will be to help even non-design related companies begin to embrace creative and critical thinking as a central part of their business setup,” said Ng.
[email protected] was launched in April 2021 and is a member of the Design Factory Global Network.
Created in 2021, Sixides is a high-tech platform serving homeowners with their renovation needs. With proprietary technologies and systems such as eQuote and Verified ID, Sixides offers interior designers credible options to deliver the quality homeowners demand. Currently focusing on the design and renovation of high-density buildings, Sixides will soon expand to encompass private apartments and landholdings while seeking to drive innovation and industry development.
Media contact: Joe Cao, [email protected], Mobile: 8523 8086