Computer-vision powered by artificial intelligence is performing human-like tasks - like detecting violations of social distancing. Picture for illustrative purposes only. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: Social distancing stickers on the floor and constant reminders to people to maintain a safe gap will be a thing of the past with Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology automatically detecting violations and alerting the on-ground security team.

A team of UAE-based students have been awarded for developing an innovative AI solution that aims to combat COVID-19 social distancing violations. The team from Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) Dubai recently won a Dh20,000 prize in the ‘FabLab UAE Innovators Competition’.

Second-year bachelor of science (computer security) students Noman Sheikh and Syed Izhan Hyder, along with their supervisor (Professor of Computing Sciences Dr Ali Raza) are the team behind the technology.

RIT Dubai computer security team
(L to R) Izhan Hyder, Dr Ali Raza, Noman Sheikh Image Credit: Supplied

How it works

Hyder said: “The system combines computer-vision technology with an AI model detection algorithm to evaluate if social distancing violations are taking place. If social distance is not maintained, an automated message is sent to the security team via WhatsApp. The tactical 4G-LTE network allows us to provide networking capabilities anywhere and anytime with security of the communications over the network and over the air interface.”

Noman said: “We know that social distancing is an important aspect in preventing the spread of COVID-19, so our idea was to create a [solution] to detect violations and send an instant alert to the on-site security team through automation, so that they can intervene to enforce the regulations."

Dr Raza said: “An important element of the solution is that any violations can be immediately relayed to command and control to be acted upon quickly. This feature can have a number of applications beyond this technology, across various industrial and professional settings.”

Winning idea

The innovation stood out among more than 40 submissions to the FabLab competition. The team was one of six that made it through to the final stage to present their project in front of expert juries. In addition to the Dh20,000 prize money, the team will benefit from support to manufacture the product, including all the materials needed for the implementation of the project, as well as marketing and promotion, both locally and internationally.

Waleed Al Hamdi, Innovation Programmes Trainer, FabLab UAE, said: “Fab lab was founded in 2015 by Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum Foundation for distinguished academic performance. The aim of FabLab is to create an integrated infrastructure to support innovation across all segments of society. Through a community network of Fabrication Laboratories, FabLab provides access to the most recent technologies, tools, and programmes in the world of digital fabrication.”