Hundreds of people gather at the Global Grad Show opening at D3 on 13th November, 2018 to experience the latest in innovation and design. Image Credit: Clint Egbert/Gulf News

Dubai: A pen that identifies cancer cells, a ring that ‘reads’ by pointing a finger at words, and scores of other futuristic solutions were unveiled at the Global Grad Show at Dubai Design Week on Tuesday.

The show’s fourth edition is the key event of Dubai Design Week, running November 12 to 17 at Dubai Design District (d3). The show started on Tuesday, a day after the Dubai Design Week opened, and will end on Saturday.

Around 150 prototypes from some 100 universities from around the world are on display at the free-to-attend show in Building 6 at d3. Owned and managed by Art Dubai Group, the show is supported for the first time by the Investment Corporation of Dubai.

Big prize

The winner of the show will be announced on Wednesday, bagging a $10,000 (around Dh36,700) prize.

Show director Brendan McGetrick, who is an independent curator, writer and designer, told Gulf News on Tuesday that some of the exhibits could be scaled up into production by interested entities. The projects were shortlisted from over 1,000 entries — the largest number to date.

User empathy

McGetrick said simplicity, functionality and user empathy are the hallmarks of “design at its best”, besides the raw science and technology that goes into a prototype.

“Design is, at its best, very responsive to and sensitive to the human experience. A designer has to really think about who is going to use it, what they need, what their problems are, how they could benefit from it. And that kind of empathetic thinking benefits any kind of pursuit,” McGetrick said.

“[A new solution] has to be something that people want to do, because you cannot make people do things. You have to think about what they are already doing naturally and figure out a way to make a small change that isn’t them reinventing their lives, but would allow them to, say, waste less water or solve other challenges.”

New features

For the first time, Dubai Design Week will also host the ‘Dubai Evolution Challenge’, overseen by Tuuli Maria Utrainen from the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN). International and UAE-based designers will team up to create “a future evolution” of everyday objects, activities or services that they discover in Dubai.

Another first this year is the ‘Innovation Conference’, which looks at creativity in the age of artificial intelligence and automation.

Free access

Dubai Design Week’s programme has more than 200 free-to-attend events covering design across a range of discipline, including architecture, product design, furniture, interiors and graphic design.

In its 2017 edition, the annual event attracted 60,000 visitors to Dubai Design District. The varied programme consists of design-related events, exhibitions, installations, competitions, talks and workshops.

Dubai Design Week is held under the dedicated patronage of Shaikha Latifa Bint Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-Chairman, Dubai Culture and Arts Authority.

What’s on show?

The Global Grad Show at Dubai Design Week is presenting around 150 university projects from around the world at Dubai Design District till Saturday. Here’s a look at some prototypes:

MasSpec Pen

Designed by Team MasSpec Pen (The University of Texas at Austin)

MasSpec Pen is a pen-like device that detects cancer cells from non-cancer cells in 10 seconds. When touching a suspected cancer area, the Pen sucks up chemicals from the sample for analysis, by first releasing and then reabsorbing a tiny water droplet that takes in the chemicals. The Pen is then plugged into a mass spectrometer that produces a chemical fingerprint that tells doctors if they are looking at healthy tissue or cancer.


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FingerReader, a wearable device that reads printed text out loud; specially beneficial for the visually impaired. Image Credit: Clint Egbert/Gulf News

Designed by Augmented Human Lab (MIT Media Lab, Singapore University of Technology and Design, University of Auckland, New Zealand)

FingerReader is a ring-like device that reads printed text out loud simply by pointing at it with the finger, assisting the visually impaired. The device has a small camera that directs the users towards the text, scans it, and provides feedback — touch or sound — to guide the user’s finger along a line of words, while also generating real-time audio of the text. Whatever the finger ‘sees’ is read out.


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Rehber, a system that helps families locate lost loved ones during Hajj. Image Credit: Clint Egbert/Gulf News

Designed by Hamza Oza (Royal College of Art, London)

Rehber helps locate loved ones in the huge crowds during the annual Haj to Makkah. It features a wrist band which has a range of five kilometres — much wider and reliable than Bluetooth or Wi-Fi technology. Another wristwatch-type device acts as a locator for the one wearing the band.

Project Circleg

Designed by Fabian Engel and Simon Oschwald (Zurich University of the Arts)

Circleg is an affordable prosthetic designed for amputees in developing countries. It is made from recycle plastic using simple production methods. Its modular design makes it easy and inexpensive to customise and repair.

Source: Global Grad Show 2018