UAEU student develops ground-breaking projects

ABU DHABI, Reducing the number of drowning cases is no easy feat. But Saifeldden Hatim, a chemical engineering student at the United Arab Emirates University (UAEU), is managing to do just that.

Thanks to a new device he and two other Emirati students � Nasser AlDarmaki and Naser AlTeneeji � are developing, significantly less swimmers will be at risk of drowning.

“We are trying to produce an electronic bracelet which can be fixed on the swimmer’s hand,” said the 22-year-old Jordanian. “It will try to capture and analyse some variables of the swimmer, and measure how consistent it is with the movement.”

The readings will be compared with standard readings for professional swimmers. They will then be categorised in normal swimming, cases that are in doubt of drowning, and confirmed drowning. “What distinguishes our product from the existing ones on the market is the prediction phase,” Hatim said. “It allows the lifeguard to reach the swimmer if he is drowning, so we are reducing the time between the case detection and the drowning. So it allows to save lives, strictly prevent drowning accidents, offer a monitoring system design which predicts drowning before the critical case, enhance the feeling inside each swimmer to be safe and sound, and improve lifeguards’ practices to accomplish their jobs.”

The data will be displayed on a tablet for the lifeguard, where each swimmer’s case will be represented by a dot. Each swimmer’s case will be determined by the colour of his dot. “We are following social media and the news in general, and observed that recently, drowning cases involving children below the age of 14 have increased in the UAE and around the world” he said. “Globally, 360,000 people die every year because of drowning, which is a lot.”

The number equates the population of the Maldives. “So, yearly, we are losing capabilities that can run a whole country,” he said. “We are targeting children because, according to statistics in the United States, almost two children die every day.”

The students plan to integrate artificial intelligence to handle the prediction by comparing the captured data with the standard ones. The device is currently in its proof-of-concept phase with the team working on gathering as much data as possible. “The problem we found is that most of these cases happen in swimming pools and at crowded times,” Hatim added. “Once a child drowns, lifeguards cannot pay attention to him because there are too many people around.”

The students’ venture is an additional project to their current work. They anticipate it will take another year to develop. So far, the project has won them the Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum Award for distinguished academic performance in the Best Innovation category across both schools and universities in the UAE.

With a different team, Hatim’s ambition also drove him to develop another user-friendly device which provides visually-impaired people an improved feeling of independence. The start-up, in the Science and Innovation Park, created BraillEye to help the visually-impaired by transforming any printed text into braille. “Nowadays, there are 285 million visually-impaired people worldwide,” he said. “They all suffer from the fact that they cannot afford that device, so we are doing our best to produce a solution which can help by being as user-friendly as possible, with an affordable price.”

Hatim has been, himself, visually-impaired since the age of six. “I started suffering when dealing with external texts, such as reading a book, boards, menus and bills, so I proposed this solution,” he said. “It’s important because visually-impaired people feel they are inferior, but being visually-impaired is not a problem that should limit people from involvement in the society and being productive members in it. I used to feel embarrassed when ordering food at a restaurant because I’d have to ask the waiter to read the menu to me.”

The device, for which the UAEU provided funding for, is currently under technical development, with an estimated completion time of six months. “It’s similar to a phone in size, with a camera at the back,” said Hatim, a top student who has won a number of awards for his projects. “But instead of a touch screen, the English braille alphabet will be refreshable and touchable.”

The UAEU strongly supports and empowers people of determination in the academic and innovation fields. The support falls in line with the country’s leadership to ensure that all people can reach their full potential and are included in mainstream educational settings. In 2006, the Emirates signed the first law in the country to protect the rights of people with determination.

Source: Emirates News Agency

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