Hosted for the first time in the UAE and Arab Region, the James Dyson Award has attracted many young engineers and innovators looking to solve a problem, big or small.
This year’s UAE’s national James Dyson Award winner attempts to solve the problem of air travel for individuals with disabilities. What is the solution? Air Chair – a new and improved wheelchair providing ease of access and mobility to disabled air travellers. The Air Chair enables individuals with disabilities to use one wheelchair for the entire journey, from checking in to landing at their destination, providing comfort and mobility on the flight journey by seamlessly integrating into the aircraft seat.
The Air Chair can be used like any ordinary wheelchair, electrically or manually inside the airport terminal. On another hand, once in the airplane cabin, the Air Chair is designed to fit the existing seat like a glove by sliding onto it using spherical wheels’ and a ‘C’ shaped design. The integrated locking mechanism which links to the metal bar underneath the seat combined with the seatbelt restricts movements and provides stability during the flight. With this solution, the traveller can use one wheelchair for the entire travel journey. The Air Chair design is also foldable, reducing its height by 64%.
“Seeing the number of submissions and the motivation of young designers and engineers across the UAE is a testament to the investment the UAE is making in the education system. We’ve seen some great solution addressing global and very relevant problems across different sectors and have been blown away from the creativity and innovation,” said Yousef Mouallem, Managing Director at Dyson MEA.
“The pool of participants is also an indication of the diversity of the UAE with a melting pot of nationalities taking part in the competition from 7 UAE based universities*. I am also happy to see more and more young women participate in these types of competitions and pursue a career in STEM,” he added.
Developed by Aamer Siddiqui, 21 and Ali Asgar Salim, 20, engineering students at the American University of Sharjah, the Air Chair was developed with the inspiration of providing people with disabilities with more comfortable and less humiliating travel experiences. Winning the national leg of the James Dyson Award will inject £2,000 (approx. AED 9,500) into Aamer and Ali’s project which will allow them to run further testing and analyses on their design, leading up to their ambition of building a working prototype and testing it in real time conditions.
Commenting on the award submission, Amer Siddiqui said: “Winning the UAE leg of the James Dyson Award is a huge milestone for us and we are very happy and motivated to be able to invest more time and money into the next phases of our project. Seeing the circumstances in which individuals with disabilities have to travel encouraged us to find a way to give them a more seamless and comfortable experience.”
“In fact, if you pay attention to current disabled travellers, you will notice that they are very limited in mobility and accessibility and that they are forced to shift seats once they arrive in the aircraft since their wheelchair doesn’t fit between the aisles. The Air Chair solves that issue.” added Ali Asgar Salim.
Commenting on how Smart Dubai is supporting the award, Hessa Al Balooshi, Director of Smart Services, said: “Smart Dubai is actively seeking to support young talent, enhance their capabilities in various fields by fostering creativity and innovation in communities and providing all the needed support to innovators, as youth are the key drivers of the future.”
She continued: "The James Dyson Award comes in line with these goals to support technological development, which is at the heart of the smart transformation of cities and the pillar for adopting the latest technologies to serve humanity and achieve human well-being”. She also congratulated the winners and wished them progress and success in supporting their communities and actively contributing to their sustainable development.
“We at DIDI are very supportive of the James Dyson Award and I was honoured to participate as a judge in the award’s inaugural year here in the UAE. I think I speak for all of us when I say we were very impressed in the quality of submissions received, and we look forward to seeing the awards grow, not only in terms of recognition, but in the amount of participants and diversity of innovation.” Comments Mohammad Abdullah, President of DIDI and judge of the James Dyson Award UAE.
The Air Chair will progress to the international stage of the James Dyson Award and Aamer and Ali aim to commercialise this product.
The Runners Up
Problem: We are living in the 21st century, but the way we control electronic devices around us hasn’t changed much. Still we use a remote to change channels on TV, use a gamepad to control games on consoles and computer, and use switches to control appliances. We have technologies like touchscreen to interact with devices, but a disabled person has very few options to play games on computer, or even simply turn light’s ON.
Solution: ThumbFi - a revolutionary ring that aims to simplify control of various devices by literally bringing control to your fingertips. This technology works by attaching a fingerprint scanner to the user’s thumb which will scan the phalange of the fingers. Each phalange can be assigned to a separate command. All you have to do is touch different sections of your fingers to perform different tasks. It eliminates the need to use different accessories for controlling different appliances. There are various applications of this technology - imagine playing games using only your fingers, a disabled person controlling his wheelchair, a blind person controlling his smartphone (making phone calls, SMS, using apps) with his fingertips.
Problem: The energy potential of the sun is immense, but despite this unlimited solar energy resource, harvesting it remains a challenge mainly because of the limited efficiency of the array cells. Although recent breakthroughs in the technology of solar cells shows significant improvement, the maximum solar cell efficiency still falls in the low 20s% range, proving there is still room for improvement.
Solution: LAZAR machine which combines two significant solar cell manufacturing improvements: A laser cutting technique that minimizes potential shunting of solar cells in addition to a corrective step to remove already existing shunts.
*List of Participating Universities
1. University of Ajman
2. American University of Sharjah
3. University of Sharjah
4. Heriot Watt
5. British University in Dubai
6. Birla Institute of Technology and Science
7. Rochester Institute of Technology
James Dyson Award
The 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. This year Mexico, the UAE, Sweden and the Philippines, have joined the global contest. 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 £30,000 for the student and £5,000 for the student’s university department.
Up to two International Runners-up:
➢ £5,000 each
➢ £2,000 each
What is the competition timeline?
➢ Opens: 27th March 2018
➢ Close: 20th July 2018
➢ National winners and finalists announced: 5th September 2018
➢ Dyson engineers’ shortlist: 21st September 2018
➢ International winner and finalists announced: 15th November 2018
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.
For more information and regular updates on the progress of the James Dyson Award, check out the James Dyson Foundation channels Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and Youtube.