Hive 2.0 was announced on 22nd January 2024 by Stellar Lifestyle, a business arm of SMRT. This is a retail innovation hub at Esplande Xchange, located within the Esplanade MRT station, it was officially launched by Ms. Low Yen Ling, Minister of State, Ministry of Trade and Industry and Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth.
Mr Tony Heng, President of Stellar Lifestyle, said, “Hive by Stellar Lifestyle continues to support Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) by introducing and validating innovations. This year, Hive 2.0 will leverage Artificial Intelligence (AI), robotics and connected networks to help our merchant partners become more operationally resilient. We designed these innovations to leverage our extensive rail network, allowing us to create new in-store experiences where consumers can enjoy greater convenience and enhanced retail experiences. What you see here today could scale across the train network in the future, as SMRT is committed to Moving People, Enhancing Lifestyles.”
Hive 2.0 – Future of Retail Innovation
Hive 2.0 is Stellar Lifestyle’s showcase of how they are envisioning the future of retail innovation through the usage and implantation of technology in our Future Cities, Future Living and Future of Work. Hive 2.0 enhances the vibrancy of retail space, the surroundings and creating new commuter experiences. Commuters at Hive 2.0 can experience about 10 unique retail concepts, mostly developed by up-and-coming local startups, within the 3,200 sq feet innovation space daily.
Hive innovation hub was first launched in 2022, connecting Stellar Lifestyle and hundreds of tenants with partners in the technology eco-system. Hive 2.0 features a new lineup of startups and partners, including selected startups from Stellar Lifestyle’s Stellarate Innovation programme.
Hive 2.0 in action
Prior to the official launch event, I had a preview of the Hive 2.0 in action during a media session. This gave me the opportunity to check out the Hive 2.0 retail and technology partners. While I didn’t manage to speak to all of the participating retail and technology partners at Hive 2.0, I had a few chats with some of them, getting to know more about them, what they are doing and their future business plans.
I have a keen interest in chatting with startups in the technology industries, and also relating to SME industries. Those chats allowed me to understand first hand on understanding and seeing Hive 2.0 in action. Here are some of my stories from my interactions and conversations with some of the retail and technology partners at Hive 2.0.
First-of-its-kind robo-delivery by QuikBot
For those working at South Beach Development, they will be able to use a first-of-its-kind robs-delivery service from Esplanade MRT station to their office building. They can order items from Esplanade MRT station’s 7-Evelen through the QuikBot app. For the first time in Singapore, QuikBot’s delivery robots will autonomously transport purchases, consolidating orders on larger robots with a fleet of smaller robots. The robots can seamlessly navigate lifts, gantries and multiple buildings to deliver items directly to office floors. Those robots will exchange items with each other to optimise logistics efficiency, they will also be the first to self-navigate on common corridors as they travel between Esplanade MRT and South Beach Tower.
During the media session, we were given a demonstration of the robo-delivery by QuikBot from Esplanade Xchange to South Beach Development. I reckon this robo-delivery by QuikBot has the potential to expand and grow in business districts e.g. Raffles Place, Tanjong Pagar.
Robot bubble tea store from JAVIS
In the coming months, if you are a bubble tea lover, you would love this idea that you can order bubble tea while they are commuting on the train, picking it up from JAVIS, a robot tea store when they arrive at Hive 2.0.
Even though I am not a bubble tea fan, I still occasionally have my bubble tea drink. Chatting with JAVIS, understanding more about their technology expertise and future developments, watching a video of how they are preparing and dispensing their bubble tea as compared to the robotic arm coffee making machine that I saw previously at other technology conferences/events.
Considering that there are many bubble tea fans in Singapore, I would be looking forward to witness the robot tea store by JAVIS in action at Hive 2.0.
Robotic detail dispensing machine by Mr. R Robotics
A robotic retail dispensing machine that is approximately the size of a room. Place your order on the touch screen panel, make the payment and watch the robotic arm collects and delivers your product to you. When you see the number of different items that they can be pack inside and seeking Mr. R Robotics in action, the regular vending machines that you see on a regular basis may not spark you joy anymore.
Showcase of local Singapore brands curated by Yzel
Yzel is a local space aggregator that showcases local Singapore brands curated by them, a pop-up sampling solution that allows merchants to offer their products to customers on a short-term basis in curated retail spaces. Great to see local Singapore businesses, artists in action, displaying their works.
As an arts and craft supporter, and also a fan of going flea market or arts and craft market, I feel that Yzel local space aggregator business concept would fit in nicely at curated retail spaces such as Hive 2.0.
7-Eleven Shop & Go
The first self-checkout retail store where commuters can tap their credit card to enter. They are leveraging AI, smart cameras, deep learning and multi-sensor fusion technologies. This 7-Eleven Shop & Go store provides a frictionless retail experience to shoppers with a seamless Tap, Shop and Go process. The first automated self-checkout store in an MRT Station in Singapore.
As a technology writer covering technology startups, fin-tech startups, and also a travel/food writer covering travel and tourism related startups over the years, I have yet to come across food/food technology startups in my media/writing coverage. At Hive 2.0, I was introduced to IncuBaker, I met two food startups incubated under them that were showcasing their innovative food products – LadleDrops and Tais’ Kitchen. Do check out and find out more about them!
In my personal humble opinion, IncuBaker incubating F&B startups/entrepreneurs to test and sell their products at Hive 2.0 is a great fit for both parties.
Hive 2.0 Retail and Technology Partners
Who are the Hive 2.0 retail and technology partners? The list below gives a short writeup and insights into each of them:
- 7-Eleven Shop & Go: The first ever autonomous store in Singapore to enable the seamless tap, shop and go process. Commuters only need to tap their credit card to enter, shop what they need and leave the store. Their purchases will automatically be charged to their card as they walk out.
- QuikBot: Leading with its “Autonomous Final-mile Delivery Platform-as-a-Service’’ (AFMD), QuikBot is transforming Singapore’s urban infrastructures into “SMART’’ systems integrated with robotics and IoT. Set for a January 2024 launch with partners like Stellar Lifestyle, South Beach Consortium, and 7-Eleven, South Beach Development office workers can conveniently order from the Esplanade MRT station’s 7-Eleven from the Quikbot app, after which its autonomous robots will transport these orders directly to their office floors, self-navigating along common corridors as they move between Esplanade MRT and South Beach Tower.
- Mr.R Robotics: Singapore’s first adaptive robotics retail store, serving frozen, chilled and ambient products concurrently.
- Yzel: An AI-powered, pop-up sampling solution that helps local brands access complementary physical spaces for product display, sampling and sales.
- IncuBaker: An F&B Incubator offering a co-working kitchen workspace and studio to help aspiring F&B entrepreneurs test and sell their products.
- The Gym Pod: An on-demand fully-private state-of-the-art gym to help health-conscious commuters hit their fitness goals.
- Le Tach Vending: An intelligent vending machine operator that stocks traditional and non-traditional products, ranging from herbal teas to bak kwa (sweetmeat) and fresh fruit.
- Tap Tiles: Tap Tiles is a startup that designs kinetic floor tiles which can harvest clean energy in the form of electricity and data from footsteps while engaging the users in the process..
- BuzzAR: An AI-powered virtual assistant that provides shopping guidance and recommendations to Hive customers.
- JAVIS: An upcoming fully automated bubble tea store that can brew freshly made bubble tea tailored to customers’ preferences.
- NOYES: For retailers, a fully automated nano-warehousing storage solution to support re-stocking and self-collection.
Hive 2.0 – Technology Innovations and the Future of Retail, Future Cities, Future Living
Hive 2.0 features technologies that are used to help retailers improve business efficiency and deal with teething issues that they are facing such as rising costs in workforce and logistics, yet concurrently providing commuters with unique retail experiences.
Hive 2.0 demonstrates Stellar Lifestyle’s continuous improvements to developing solutions that support its retail partners, benefitting the local community and transforming retail spaces at MRT stations into vibrant lifestyle destinations. This goal is achieved through a series of innovations, changes and place-making, by incorporating new technologies, creating new experiential experiences for commuters, and reimagining the use of existing spaces.
Other exciting commuter experiences by Stellar Lifestyle include the sprawling 22,000 sq ft Timezone at Orchard Xchange and the bustling bazaar at Dhoby Xchange with its eclectic range of F&B and lifestyle outlets.
Hive 2.0 encompasses technology innovations into the future of retail, how our future cities and future living could be envisioned, transformed and coming to life in an eco-system and a vibrant community supporting local Singapore SMEs and startups. All these have the potential to be expand further into the heartlands of Singapore, beyond the business and downtown hubs.