This S’pore Startup Turns Our ‘Habitap’ Into A Smart Living Space – Powers DUO, Marina One

It was during a site meeting in 2016 that left Franklin Tang, CEO and founder of Habitap, and some contractors amused.

Franklin was asked about the wiring provisions necessary to operate the Habitap system, which is dubbed Asia’s first fully integrated smart living platform.

As they were considered the first mover, they had to help stakeholders understand how software can integrate with hardware (especially brick and mortar buildings) to achieve smart functions.

“I had to mention “wireless” several times, very much to the irritation of those in the meeting, before everyone realised we meant that we didn’t need wires. We had a good laugh,” said the 43-year-old.

Smart living wasn’t a thing then, but he had a vision to make it a permanent fixture in everyday lives. He had to explain to and convince others to buy into his idea and eventually, he succeeded.

“Today, this hardly happens. All of our stakeholders have become familiar and comfortable with “software” and mobile apps,” said Franklin.

Fast forward to 2020, he has cornered a big chunk of a market that did not even exist four years ago.

A Market Leader On The Smart Building Frontier

Habitap first launched in 2016 with its smart living platform at Keppel Land’s Corals at Keppel Bay waterfront development.

It seamlessly combines smart controls, community management and lifestyle offerings – three key features for modern day smart living – into a single platform. 

A showflat at DUO Residences
A showflat at DUO Residences / Image Credit: Singapore Tatler

So what sparked the idea of smart living platform?

Franklin shared that he was reading up on Singapore’s Smart Nation initiative and at the same time, had the opportunity to work with a global brand in co-building a prototype smart home here.

In Singapore, we tend to live in communities with shared facilities.

This gave birth to the idea of incorporating some of these common area functions such as facilities booking, visitor management, and security access control in one place.

– Franklin Tang, CEO and founder of Habitap

With that, he launched the Habitap app, which allows users to access multiple functions with a tap.

For example, users are able to easily notify condominium management of an expected delivery when they are not at home, and have their smart parcel box allow the delivery person to leave packages inside without requiring input from the resident.

Harnessing AI And IoT

The Habitat app doesn’t just integrate smart home controls, community management and lifestyle services on a single platform.

Franklin shared that the system “incorporates artificial intelligence, machine learning as well as the Habitap Lifestyle Assistant, Handy, which allows users to interact with and easily control devices within their homes via popular mobile messaging platforms.

The Habitap Lifestyle Assistant utilises machine learning capabilities to determine if certain tasks are part of the homeowner’s routine and will automatically check in with their homeowners to see if they require it to perform certain tasks.

– Franklin Tang, CEO and founder of Habitap

Homeowners can communicate with the Assistant by adding it as a contact on their phones.

Habitap app
Habitap app / Image Credit: Habitap

They can then communicate with the Assistant using natural language text and voice messaging on popular messaging communication channels, such as WhatsApp, WeChat, and more.

“Habitap is built on the premise that smart technology will provide greater peace of mind and through automation allow people to spend more time and energy on the things that matter to them,” explained Franklin.

We are especially excited at the possibilities for Artificial Intelligence and machine learning applications in the smart living space.

Imagine a network of smart devices in your home that anticipates residents’ needs such as placing an order for groceries when supplies

are low or notifying a handyman for appliances that need servicing.

– Franklin Tang, CEO and founder of Habitap

12 Commercial Buildings And 13 Residential Projects

Habitap currently manages 12 buildings including offices, business parks and integrated developments. This adds up to a total of 10 million square feet of net lettable area.

Its portfolio consists of 13 residential projects with a total of 8,000 residential units. It also has over 82,000 combined registered users on its various platforms.

Following its success, it expanded to develop smart building platforms for commercial developments, and counts Alice @ Mediapolis, DUO Residences, and Marina One Residences as some of its project users.

Alice@Mediapolis
Image Credit: Alice@Mediapolis

Franklin also shared that Habitap is the developer of the By The Bay app used by Marina Bay Financial Centre and One Raffles Quay.

Additionally, Habitap has also developed an AI-backed smart home management system, which will be applied to the upcoming residential development 19 Nassim Hill.

Its portfolio of glitzy office buildings and luxury residences is set to grow in size.

Modern Luxury Living Can Be For Everyone

However, you don’t have to be a resident at DUO or Marina One in order to use a software like Habitap’s.

To cater to more homes, Habitap has introduced a “lite” version of its flagship app, at only one-fifth of its premium version.

Called Tap Residential, it contains the most used and popular features from its flagship app.

It harnesses the same technology — through the seamless pairing of Internet-of-Things (IoT) and smart devices conveniently controlled within a single app platform.

With scene controls, you can easily configure profiles that fit your

lifestyle, whether you are lighting your study with cooler lights for optimal productivity or shifting your lights to warmer temperatures at the end to the day to relax and wind down.

hapitap app
Image Credit: Habitap

Tap Residential also allows the booking of facilities and visitor management with real-time updates to staff and residents.

Smart mail boxes ensure important mail is secure and easily accessible without the hassle of keys.

On why they are introducing Tap Residential, Franklin said that since the launch of Habitap at the Corals at Keppel Bay four years ago, there has been a growing demand for the functions available on their platform.

The introduction of Tap Residential gives developers more options in choosing the right smart living solution to fit the profile of their projects.

At the same time, the new offering also allows property developers who have not used the Habitap range to try out an entry-level option.

– Franklin Tang, CEO and founder of Habitap

One other benefit of Tap Residential is its scalability.

Since the entry-level option offers a standardised solution, it facilitates quick retrofit projects as well as rapid deployment to regional markets.

This means that Habitap will be able to onboard more projects in a year

and let more users enjoy the use of it.

Adept At Integrating Software With Buildings

franklin tang habitap
Franklin Tang / Image Credit: Habitap

Soon after graduating with a degree in Business and Finance in 2001, Franklin had joined the family firm, Philip Tang & Sons.

Philip Tang & Sons is a leading IT solutions provider since 1990. They are a custom developer of systems for private sector companies in Singapore and overseas.

From an early age of 14, his dad would bring him along for business meetings after his school. He would spend time in his dad’s office either observing him, or helping with various tasks as he built the company.

He honed his craft at his dad’s company for 10 over years and eventually rose through the ranks to be the CEO.

“Becoming an entrepreneur became natural for me,” said Franklin.

When we launched Habitap, I found myself having to make many key decisions on my own because my dad wanted me to exercise my own judgements in all aspects of the business.

Having implemented close to 200 projects prior to setting up Habitap, it has honed my skills in terms of design thinking as well as the ability to multitask and integrate various systems together.

– Franklin Tang, CEO and founder of Habitap

These skills have “proven to be valuable” in Habitap as they perform integration between software and other systems within buildings, for example, pairing software to elevators and security access control systems.

That seamless user experience is important, said Franklin.

The Future Of Smart Living

Franklin foresees that we would soon be able to control and monitor our homes or office, and manage community facilities with our smartphones.

The booking of facilities remotely means that you no longer need to have manual records or have staff check and open the facilities.

Habitap users are able to invite and manage guests with the app doubling up as mobile access cards. This reduces the need for guests to go to guard rooms to sign in and exchange passes.

By extension, this would mean that driving into a development can be done seamlessly by having a QR code on the Habitap invite that can be used to scan and gain entry.

All these provisions contribute to productivity and reduce the need for additional manpower and operations.

Moreover, Covid-19 have accelerated the shift towards smart and contactless solutions that can minimise contact with other people as much as possible.

Coupled with Singapore’s Smart Nation initiative, a software like Habitap’s is set to improve lives and livelihoods.

Featured Image Credit: Edgeprop / Renonation

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