Dubai students' app can digitise World War files in a snap

Murdoch University Dubai, web application, masterpiece, artificial intelligence, 14 weeks, Google optical recognition
TEAMWORK: The students of Murdoch University Dubai worked on the project for 14 weeks.

Dubai - The students from Murdoch University Dubai (MUD) have designed and built a web application, which they call a 'masterpiece'.


Sandhya D'Mello

Published: Sat 31 Aug 2019, 12:00 PM

Last updated: Sun 1 Sep 2019, 7:12 PM

Historical records from World War I and II are available only in hard copy that people often have to type volumes of documents so they can be used in research. But seven Dubai students have found a way to convert them into digital text instantly.
The students from Murdoch University Dubai (MUD) have designed and built a web application, which they call a 'masterpiece'.
Users can just take a photo of an age-old journal, a decree, a letter, a doctor's report or a death certificate - and upload it on the system to get the documents transcribed into digital text right away.
Powered by artificial intelligence through Google's optical recognition platform, the app also translates the transcription into languages like Korean, Spanish and French, based on a user's location. 
Areesha Faisal, one of the students, said: "While working on this 'masterpiece', we ended up improving our technical skills and also learnt a new programming language, Python, which would be quite beneficial for us in the future."
It took the team 14 weeks to complete the project, from gathering requirements to designing a solution, building a prototype, testing it across platforms, and presenting it for approval.
Ulysses Rodrigues, another student, said: "At first, some of the team members did not have any prior knowledge of the web framework or even the programming language. So those who had prior knowledge of this helped the other members get up to speed by sharing resources, such as tutorials and books."
Solution to a 'real' problem
It was a project that stemmed from a real-world need.
The system digitises documents that are related to the Great World War, with significance to Western Australian army history. It covers records exhibited at the Army Museum of Western Australia, as well as those found at the Western Australian Genealogical Society (WAGS).
The WAGS - the largest society of its kind - assists members in researching family history in Western Australia and other parts of the world by transcribing and indexing records.
Currently, volunteers manually type the historic documents and upload them on their website to make them accessible to the public.
The entire time-consuming process is done manually without an appropriate system, with several people working on a single transcription.
With the MUD students' app, such tedious work would be completed in just a number of clicks.
Aside from Faisal and Rodrigues, the other members of the team are Harshad Suresh, Qurat Ul Ain Imtiaz, Jolene Mathews, Mohamad Fayaz Faruk Parekh and Hyeyoon Cho.

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