Science Alumnus the First in Asia Pacific to Win Apple Design Award
Life Sciences alumnus MUH Hon Cheng, who co-founded Clean Shaven Apps in 2015, made Singapore proud by winning the coveted global Apple Design Award 2017 for Elk, a currency converter mobile application (app). This marks the first time that a winner hails from Singapore and Southeast Asia.
Apple’s annual awards ceremony celebrates "the talent, artistry and creativity of developers who set the standard for ideal app design”.
Hon Cheng was also named one of Apple Singapore’s Red Dot Heroes as part of the opening of Apple Orchard Road. The miniature version of the “Apple loves the Little Red Dot” sign represents well-known people in Singapore in the creative and technology fields.
Launched in April 2017, the Elk – Travel Currency Converter shows the conversions for two currencies in a table – the user’s home currency and a currency of interest. Elk presents a list of preset values (ones, tens, hundreds, thousands) that increases tenfold with a swipe to the left. Elk also uses the iPhone's current time zone to infer the currency, so users do not need to manually select specific currencies to convert.
Screenshots from the mobile application, Elk
In spite of not having a formal IT background, Hon Cheng is the brain behind some of Singapore’s most popular apps, such as SG Buses and SG NextBus, which provide real-time public transport information and boast more than four million downloads locally, and Buuuk, which helps retail companies with digital transformation strategies.
He said, “One of the ways to achieve Singapore’s Smart Nation vision is for individuals to make use of available data and create something useful, with thoughtful features customised for local or regional use.”
On his advice to aspiring entrepreneurs, Hon Cheng says, “Find a problem you encounter daily, and think of an idea for an app that solves the problem. Make that your motivation. It is not easy initially, but if you can find an itch that is bad enough, you will find ways to scratch it!”
In the future, Hon Cheng plans to make his apps more accessible through multiple mobile platforms, and to incorporate artificial intelligence, augmented reality and blockchain technologies to revolutionise user interfaces and the overall user experience.