Dubai: Sweating in the UAE’s sauna-like summer may soon be a thing of the past — that is, if three Emirati schoolboy inventors get their way.
The concept is simple: equip a well-insulated jacket with electronic sensors that detect the wearer’s body temperature.
Then, when the temperature inside the jacket climbs higher than conditions outside, the thermostat switches on three small fans embedded into the garment.
The fans, sourced from desktop computers, are powered by a 12-volt battery, about as large — and heavy — as a packet of butter.
Right now, the three students have a working prototype, and claim that the fans bring down temperatures by up to 5 degree Celsius inside.
However, as they readily admit, there are plenty of technical hurdles to overcome. The jacket is not yet safe to wear, due to the large amount of exposed wires. And the battery pack makes it heavy.
But in the future, guided by their biology teacher, the team hope to upgrade the jacket with a full cooling and heating system — preferably solar-powered.
“In the UAE, the high temperatures are a problem,” said Abdullah Hadif, the leader of the student team at Sharjah’s Al Resalah School.
“Instead of relying on your car’s air conditioning, we can upgrade our jackets to have air conditioning.”
The project was among 300 inventions on display at the three-day Think Science Competition in the Dubai World Trade Centre. Think Science is a programme run by the Emirates Foundation, an Abu Dhabi government body that aims to improve the welfare of the UAE’s youth.
The competition, which is now in its fourth year, sees 820 students from 100 schools and 20 universities vie for awards.
Also on site were 45 companies and institutes who offered career advice and hands-on science demonstrations.
Winners will be announced at a ceremony on Thursday, the last day of the fair.
The fan-cooled jacket was just one of several inventions that seem to have been designed with the UAE firmly in mind.
Four students at the UAE University in Al Ain have come up with a solution for a costly problem — camel deaths.
“A friend of my mother’s bought a camel for racing from Sudan which cost more than Dh500,000,” said Alaa Adam, a Sudanese student.
“Then, when the camel came to the UAE, people felt that it wasn’t coping. They couldn’t understand what was wrong. The camel ended up dying. That was a waste of time and money.”
So the students — who hail from camel-farming families — came up with what they call the “Camel Body Language Reader”.
Here’s how it works: 3D cameras record the camels in the enclosures of a camel farm. Then, their adapted software — initially designed for training Olympic athletes — monitors the behaviour of each dromedary for warning signs.
The team hopes that by tracking countless camel movements, an ever-growing bank of data will help them draw conclusions on how camels feel.
They believe that once the database is large enough, the information will be invaluable for camel farmers keen to minimise their losses.
“The database is money,” said Adam. “We’re going to use this data, and then we might even sell it.”