This year’s United Arab Emirates national James Dyson Award winners plan to fill the current gap in healthcare by inventing readily available solutions, beginning with Vita-Cam. Invented by a team of Arab nationals, Vita-Cam is a mobile application built on a convolutional neural network, an artificial intelligence technology, and offers an affordable way to prevent common health complications.
It intelligently analyses images of body parts – including eyes and nails – and uses a growing depository of medical records to identify both vitamin and mineral deficiencies. The application also provides nutritional recommendations for optimal health, and can be made available by health authorities or healthcare providers to users for free, or used by healthcare professionals as a simplified tool.
To commemorate this accomplishment, the winners were recognised by His Excellency Khalfan Belhoul, CEO of Dubai Future Foundation, during the awarding ceremony hosted at Youth x Hub Dubai. Commenting on this occasion, HE. Khalfan Belhoul said: “This solution is a testament to the UAE’s efforts to empower the youth and in creating an environment that promotes innovation and creativity. I am extremely proud of the talented Arab students behind Vita-Cam, as well as of the rest of the nominees, and hope to see many more similar successes from the region.”
Electrical engineering students at Ajman University – Ahmed Saif, Mohamed AitGacem, Saifeddin Alghlayini and Wissam Shehieb – are the minds behind Vita Cam and were encouraged to apply to the James Dyson Awards when they found out that the competition had opened to UAE students.
“As engineers, we would like to fill current gaps in order to enhance people’s quality of life, and address mounting universal challenges. By connecting disparities within the global healthcare system with an applied AI solution, we have invented an interactive prevention tool that is within reach of smartphone users around the world,” explained Ahmed Saif on behalf of the team. “A good engineer is curious, imaginative, highly ethical and always inspired by the stories of others.”
Winning the national leg of the James Dyson Award will inject AED 9,300 (£2,000) into the Vita-Cam project, allowing the budding inventors to develop an advanced version of the application that can be utilised by healthcare systems and medical professionals.
It took three full software prototypes and countless programming amendments to develop Vita-Cam, owing to the complexity of integrating different programming tools in one compact application. There was also an initial medical research phase, which was facilitated by one of the team members who also have a medical degree.
The Vita-Cam will progress to the international stage of the James Dyson Award. The winners aim to commercialise this product for global use, and offer it to medical bodies for large-scale research.
The Runners Up
Problem: It is estimated that approximately 1.3 billion people live with some form of vision impairment around the world, while an aging global population increases the risk that more people will be impacted by vision impairment throughout their lives.
Solution: VisionCap, fitted on a regular cap to be easily worn by the visually impaired, enables users to see the world around them through an AI-based ‘virtual eye’. The solution describes for users their immediate surroundings, while also allowing access to basic smartphone features on-the-go. It runs on a Raspberry Pi board (SBC) that is connected to a camera and a Bluetooth 4.0 module, and was designed based on comprehensive in-field research.
Problem: Water scarcity across the world continues to threaten food security. While the rapidly increasing cost of mass-produced food and unhealthy farming techniques are negatively impacting the health of citizens in both low and high-income countries.
Solution: Taking up the same space as an average fridge, Aquatronix leverages a smart and sustainable two-step irrigation system to grow organic produce and seafood responsibly and at low-cost. The solution allows users to comfortably grow six varieties of plants, along with a school of fish, without the use of pesticides or additional nutrients. Once the fish waste is exposed to oxygen, it naturally converts as nutrient for plant growth, while a pump circulates the water from the plants to the fish tank.
James Dyson Award
The competition is open to student inventors with the ability and ambition to solve the problems of tomorrow. Winning solutions are selected by Sir James Dyson and show ingenuity, iterative development, and commercial viability. With students from 27 nations now competing, the award is set to welcome new approaches to a broader range of global issues than ever before.
Since the competition first opened fourteen years ago, the iconic inventor has already contributed over £1m to championing boundary-breaking concepts. To help finalists to develop their novel idea, each year the overall winner is awarded £30,000, and winners in each participating region receive £2,000. Unlike other competitions, participants are given full autonomy over their intellectual property.
The James Dyson Award forms part of a wider commitment by Sir James Dyson, to demonstrate the power of engineers to change the world. The Dyson Institute of Engineering and Technology, the James Dyson Foundation and James Dyson Award embody a vision to empower aspiring engineers, encouraging them to apply their theoretical knowledge and discover new ways to improve lives through technology.
What is the prize?
The international prize is AED 140,000 (£30,000) for the student and £5,000 for the student’s university department. National winners are awarded AED 9,300 (£2,000) each.
Who can enter the James Dyson Award?
Any university-level student of product design, industrial design or engineering, or graduate within four years of graduation, who is studying or studied in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Italy, Ireland, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, the Philippines, Russia, Singapore, Spain, South Korea, Switzerland, Sweden, Taiwan, the UAE, the UK and the USA.