How heritage comes alive with technology in Singapore

How heritage comes alive with technology in Singapore

Visitors to Singapore are often amazed at how much changes in the city-state each time they visit. Even locals find surprising hidden gems in the place they call home, given the fast pace at which things develop at the global financial and IT hub.

So, preserving and promoting heritage in Singapore, which has only been independent for 59 years this year, has always been a challenge. Making sure the cultural and historical roots that anchor meaning to the city is difficult.

This is where technology is increasingly important, in helping new generations of citizens and visitors to uncover the hidden gems that showcase the country’s rich heritage. By making it come alive through interactivity, technology boosts engagement and offers people more rewarding experiences.’s interactive game, for example, recently helped more than 350 participants learn more about the iconic Katong-Joo Chiat neighbourhood while participating in a competitive race to explore the area.

Following clues given to them over the phone, the teams braved the heat and humidity to solve puzzles at interesting places around the neighbourhood, starting from the Haig Road hawker centre, where the local community often gathers during meal times.

The @ Katong-Joo Chiat Race: Festival Race Edition in April was the result of a partnership between and the National Heritage Board (NHB). 

It was part of a day of festivities that helped kick off a series of national heritage activities in Singapore to empower communities to celebrate and champion the heritage of their neighbourhoods.

While the race is now over, the adventure has continued at Katong-Joo Chiat with the Hidden.SG game.

Groups of people, from colleagues on a team bonding exercise to families or couples seeking a fun day out, are now signing up for the heritage trail to learn more about the neighbourhood known for its colourful heritage buildings, amazing food stalls and many other hidden gems.

Instead of simply reading about the area, participants are able to better understand the heritage behind it by interacting with the game and taking up the challenge of a game.

The Katong-Joo Chiat area is just one of several iconic neighbourhoods where one can learn more about Singapore’s heritage. The game is also available in Chinatown, Dakota, Tanjong Pagar, Toa Payoh and many more neighbourhoods with untold stories.

In each game, the secret to success is making the experience engaging and also seamless. The adventure game, set up by an expert gamemaster and developers at, is only possible with place-making research and on-the-ground exploration of a location.

For the Katong-Joo Chiat trail, for example, dozens of locations were scouted before a few were added to the trail.

The game also has to be easy to access. So, the game doesn’t require an app - it just needs a connected smartphone with WhatsApp installed.

Players are guided through their trail by Void Deck Cat, an AI virtual chatbot that’s intelligent, curious and resourceful like its namesake feline.

Besides games,’s parent company, Move Technologies, also helps heritage businesses engage new customers through similarly interactive experiences.

For example, heritage coffee chain Killiney is making use of an intelligent chatbot called Killiney Ah Gong, which serves customers online by answering queries and giving away discounts to its new shops.

Killiney Ah Gong, based on a late tow chiu who had worked at the coffeeshop, now directs customers to its online shop to buy its ready-to-eat merchandise that include instant coffees, capsule pods, bottled kaya, kopi peng ice cream and ready-to-cook laksa pastes.

The products sold by Killiney Ah Gong are a modern extension of the traditional coffeeshop, which opened in Singapore more than 100 years ago in 1919.

The chatbot is now enabling the heritage chain to grow beyond the 35 outlets in Singapore as well as those overseas in Malaysia, Australia and the United States.

Today, the Killiney website sells over hundreds of orders online, with the WhatsApp-linked chatbot adding a strong brand story to its transactional capabilities.