Dubai: From mind-controlled drones to rescue-bots, Dubai Future Week is showcasing tech concepts and prototypes that could one day become part of daily life.
Running from Sunday to Thursday this week at The Boulevard, Jumeirah Emirates Tower, the public exhibition is displaying and demonstrating futuristic devices from 4pm to 7pm.
Organised by Dubai Future Foundation (DFF), the complementary five-day event also features talks on innovation and the impact of disruption in our lives, among other topics.
Also, as part of Dubai Future Week, EmTech MENA was held on Monday and will conclude on Tuesday. Organised by DFF, MIT Technology Review and Haykal Media, the second edition of EmTech MENA is also taking place at Jumeirah Emirates Tower.
Held under the patronage of Shaikh Hamdan Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of Dubai Executive Council, Chairman of the Board of Trustees at DFF, EmTech MENA convenes over 30 high-profile government officials, experts, academics, entrepreneurs and futurists from around the world.
Khalfan Juma Belhoul, CEO of DFF, said: “By hosting the EmTech MENA for the second time, we aim to provide a platform where the future of technology and strategic areas can be discussed at length by representatives from the public and private sector. Dubai is an incubator of new technologies, as seen from the government leading the way by adopting advanced technologies and taking change in its stride. We are at the forefront of a digital revolution, and it is imperative that we keep up with the trends, understand future challenges and recognise where the opportunities lie.”
The two-day conference also highlights the winners of the ‘Innovators Under 35’ award, who were announced last week and whose innovations highlight the emerging technological competencies of the UAE and the Middle East.
Dubai-based company Power Interactive is testing a small drone that can be controlled just by thought. The drone is linked via an app to a band placed around the forehead. As the user focuses on the drone, it lifts off. Small tilts of the head then make the drone go right or left, forwards or backwards. The user concentrates on the drone again to land it.
Ziad Antar, lead software engineer at Power Interactive, told Gulf News the headband detects brain waves and the user’s attention level to, via the app, increase or decreased the altitude of the drone.
“The more you focus, the higher the drone goes; the more you relax, the more it goes down… You have a lot of types of waves in the brain, you can use them to control drones, cars – anything is possible. You see science fiction on TV, but it’s actually happening,” Antar said.
Dubai Police is letting visitors use a Virtual Reality game to guide a robot to rescue a man stranded on a sinking ship that has caught fire. The game could become a reality one day, said First Lieutenant Abdul Rahman Mohammad A. Bin Fahad from Dubai Police. He explained that Dubai Police is exploring the potential of robots in rescue missions, which could in the future be resistant to fires, see through fog, and have other powers not possible for humans.
By using the game, Dubai Police wants to show visitors “one of the ways of how we’re thinking of controlling the robots”, he added. Most people imagine robots to be along the lines of the Terminator or Robocop movies – acting completely on their own at will.
First Lt Bin Fahad said that police will be able in the future to control robots in the same way as drones are controlled remotely, as demonstrated by the robot simulation game, which “is not for training purposes”, but to give users “an immersive experience” about the shape of things to come.
Musical strings will be relics of the past once the future arrives. Instead lasers will be “plucked” to create music, as demonstrated by the Laser Harp at Dubai Future Week. UAE-based firm Pearl Quest is showcasing the prototype using green lasers and sensors. Currently each laser “string” is assigned a single tone but future versions could see the tones change depending on where along its length the laser is plucked, said Milin Luckose, an engineer at the firm.
“Guitars, violins, harps will all be changed into something like this in the future,” he said.