When a book comes alive and becomes more interesting

When a book comes alive and becomes more interesting

Students create innovative apps to demonstrate mobile computing skills

By Olivia Olarte-ulherr - Senior Reporter, Abu Dhabi

Published: Wed 22 Apr 2015, 1:04 AM

Last updated: Thu 25 Jun 2015, 7:50 PM

An app that can make a children’s story book more interesting by animating the characters in 3D and making them interactive has won this year’s Mobile Application Contest (MAC).

Developed by senior engineering students from Khalifa University, the ‘Airbook: Augmented Immersive Reality Book’ app made use of the Arabic book ‘Sugar Grains’, which was approved by the Ministry of Education (MoE) as supplementary reading for Grade 1 students.

Mohammed Wael Bazzaza presenting the Augmented Immersive Reality Book app. — Supplied photos 

Mohammed Wael Bazzaza, a computer engineering student and Mona Al Zubaidi from electronics engineering said their aim was to enrich “educational books with extra materials that engage multiple senses” and enhance learning experience with the use of tablets, iPad and other smart devices.

“The story is shown in animation rather than pictures. The purpose is to make reading for kids more enjoyable and for making them learn subconsciously while having fun,” explained Mohammed.

The application works by directing the camera of the smart device on the page, which automatically matches the page from its memory. It then reads out the story in Arabic and animate the characters. Children can also engage with the story through touchscreen and at a virtual level.

“There’s a lot of interaction. This is the concept of edutainment, the art of making someone learn subconsciously while having fun,” Mohammed pointed out. The book is also translated in the English language. The project took six months to complete.

Mohammed said the app intentionally focuses on the Arabic language. “In this new generation, Arabic language is very much neglected because (most) applications are in English and they are not interacting in the mother tongue as they should be.  By creating Arabic application, we are trying to make the balance between Arabic and English medium.”

According to Jason NG, supervisor of the students from Etisalat-BT Innovation Centre (EBTIC), the project was developed for the Ministry of Education.

“They wanted to improve the Arabic literacy. They came to us asking for solution (for) the young learners not to lose their mother tongue that’s why they came-up with this application,” he explained.

A pilot study, in co-operation with the MoE, involving 240 Grade 1 students at four schools across the UAE will be carried out in May “to test the impact of the project”.

Mohammed said the trial will involve half of the students reading the book the traditional way while the others will have the application in their iPad together with the book. “(Then) we quiz them and compare who has more comprehension.”


Diabetic foot detector

For diabetic patients, diabetic foot is an additional burden which when not treated could lead to amputation. In an effort to help prevent this problem, Fahad Al Shaibani, senior biomedical engineering student from Khalifa University, developed the ‘Diabetic Foot Detector’ app to aid in detecting early symptoms of diabetic foot.

Fahad Al Shaibani with his diabetic foot detector app.

“When the foot cell or tissue die because of low blood supply, (patient) loses the sensitivity of their foot…. This is a pre-diagnosis system, before diabetic foot happens,” he explained.

His invention makes use of a removable shoe insole with sensor connected to a mobile device through Bluetooth that records and sends an alarm when blisters develop or when there are physiological changes in someone’s foot, such as heat, temperature, humidity, pressure and pulse.

“Everything is saved and placed in the system so it can be accessed and see the frequency of the changes.”

Fahad’s app won the second prize at the MAC 2015, which was announced on Sunday afternoon.

“I’m very happy. It makes me more motivated to develop a similar device. I’ve had good experience from this,” expressed Fahad.

The 10th edition of the Mobile Application Contest was participated by seven universities across the UAE and featured 21 entries.

The third place went to Abu Dhabi University team of Abdul Rahman Al Marzooqi, Muhannad Alrifaai and Saleh Al Yammahi for ‘Discover UAE’ app. Dena Ahmed Mohamed Ahmed, Reem Salem Mohammed, Nasra Ali Obaid and Samia Loucif for ‘Furniture and Appliances Virtualiser’ app from Al Hosn University won the fourth prize.

Winners received monetary awards of Dh20,000, Dh15,000, Dh10,000 and Dh5,000 plus the latest Samsung S6.

MAC2015 is a yearly event organized by Khalifa University that requires student teams to submit original and culturally-focused apps. It aims to promote an environment which fosters the creation of innovative mobile applications and to provide participants with an opportunity to develop and demonstrate their mobile computing skills. It also offers to assist participants in the business development phase needed to transform selected applications into commercial products.

Other commendable apps submitted included a virtual queuing system, a ‘Smart Airport’ app that allows users to know when their bags are ready for collection at the airport, a mobile shopping application, an app that helps autistic children develop skills such as listening, pointing and reasoning. In addition, there were apps that monitored health, a programme that translates speech into sign language for the hearing-impaired and several government agency-oriented apps that aimed to streamline government services.


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