Dyson is a company that is all about creativity and innovation, and the James Dyson Award has over the years attracted many young engineers and innovators looking to solve a problem, big or small.
This year, the James Dyson Award was hosted for the first time in the UAE and Arab Region, and the winning entries score points for thinking big.
Take for instance, this year’s UAE’s national James Dyson Award winner which attempts to solve the problem of air travel for individuals with disabilities. The Air Chair is a reinvention of the 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.
Developed by Aamer Siddiqui, 21 and Ali Asgar Salim, 20, engineering students at the American University of Sharjah, the Air Chair can be used like any ordinary wheelchair, electrically or manually inside the airport terminal. 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 Air Chair design is also foldable, reducing its height by 64%.
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.
The Runners Up included the 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.
Also of note is the Lazar, which takes on the current challenge of 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. The Lazar machine 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.
The Air Chair will now progress to the international stage of the James Dyson Award.