Penultimate episode of QF’s Stars of Science saw prototypes tested and evaluated
In the latest installment of Qatar Foundation’s Stars of Science, uncertainty grew among the contestants as the prototype testing results were revealed and critically assessed by the jury members. The five remaining contestants, all vying for a place in the Grand Finale, demonstrated their novel innovations, highlighting the hard work that has taken place over the last few weeks.
Before testing the innovations and revealing the results, the contestants explained their ideas to the experts. The experts carefully evaluated the prototype while the end-users tested the innovations out. The feedback and insight from both weighed heavily on the test outcomes and jury evaluations.
The show continued to take social distancing precautionary measures in light of the ongoing pandemic. Dr. Khalid Al Ali and returning guest judge Yosouf Al-Salehi, Executive Director of Qatar Science & Technology Park (QSTP), discussed their evaluations with the contestants in the studio, while Professor Abdelhamid El Zoheiry and Professor Fouad Mrad presented their assessments virtually.
Mohammed Al-Jefairi, a Season 9 alumni, joined presenter Khalid Al Jumaily as co-host. Before the eliminations, Al-Jefairi shed light on transforming his innovation Robot SeeDo, an interactive robotic teacher for deaf children, into an award-winning 3D sign language application. Al-Jefairi also discussed the creativity makers center, which he founded, and that fellow contestant Eiman Al Hamad attended.
Mohammed Almoghawi faced the judges first. The results of his prototyping test were mostly positive. The unique airbrushing technique was highlighted as one of the strengths and a feature preferred by dentists. Easy Brush cleaned the teeth of the end-user effectively; however, the water dispersion was not accurate, and the consumer did not feel comfortable with the size of the brush.
While Dr. Al Ali and Professor El Zoheiry pointed out these flaws, Almoghawi defended his prototype, explaining that it would be the first toothbrush on the market to be customizable to the user. Almoghawi also spoke about his plan to test the product through a series of clinical trials before eventually mass-manufacturing.
Eiman Al Hamad was the only contestant to face the jury alone. Her product Amna performed successfully during the prototyping test, as it was able to detect the phishing attack and emit a warning. However, the innovation lacked a wider data set and the deep learning feature, which can be compatible with the different scenarios that a hacker may use. Professor Mrad and Dr. Al Ali emphasized this issue, saying that it needs to be solved, as currently the innovation is not dynamic enough. Al-Salehi said that as Al Hamad’s software would take between in 1-1.5 years to be market-ready, she may face difficulty keeping up with technological advancements.
Al Hamad defended her prototype, re-stating her plan to tackle this problem by carefully assessing the studies done during the show and approaching telecommunication companies who can help her develop this database. Her second option is to crowdsource, where she aims to work with specialists within the cybersecurity field.
Meanwhile, Al-Salehi – who had stated earlier that QSTP’s doors are open to receive creative and unique proposals from innovators in Qatar and outside the country – expressed an interest in her innovation. He went on to say that QSTP would be looking for potential applicants from this season, and upcoming seasons, to join the science and research hub in Education City.
The focus then moved to Waddah Malaeb. His innovation – DLOC Biosystems – was analyzed by various experts, with many confirming that the prototype was able to produce the desired layer of cells in the ductal tissue of the chip. However, one expert commented that Malaeb’s innovation still had a long way to go in comparison to other products on the market, which surprised both the judges and Malaeb, as he has been working on this product for many years.
However, Malaeb confidently defended his innovation, stating that it is the first to create a scaffolding system, which enables the cells to grow into 3D interfacing ductal tissue from an engineering perspective. From a biological perspective, the cells were able to form the shape needed. He even dared to argue that the expert’s specialty is not in the innovation’s focus area. Waddah was able to win over the jury, including Professor El Zoheiry, who disagreed with the expert’s comments.
Sarah Aboerjaib’s Scanscope innovation was tested on several animals, including the broken leg of a sheep. Her innovation detected an abnormality, but it failed to identify what kind of abnormality. This lack of accuracy could lead to an incorrect diagnosis, with experts stating that it requires more data analysis and testing.
These results were not well received by the jury members, as their assessment from last week was that this innovation needed more testing to help the product be ready for the market. Dr. Al Ali and Professor El Zoheiry commented that Aboerjaib’s innovation did not use radiation on the test, which is crucial due to her product being optically based. Professor Mrad said that she tested an old fracture when her product should identify newly formed fractures.
Aboerjaib said that she plans to expand the carrier's bandwidth within her innovation and create more tests on different forms of abnormalities. However, she made the mistake of generalizing that all fractures can be detected through physical examination, which unfortunately contradicted the purpose of her product. This statement antagonized Professor El Zoheiry, who works in healthcare.
Ahmad Fathalla’s edutainment innovation Joi performed well during the test with one child. The experts noted that the child was engaged while playing with the product; however, the educational and creativity features needed to be improved. There were technical errors within the game, and that display of data was unclear. Another expert said that Joi would benefit from having a gaming ecosystem to increase its chances of success.
The judges agreed with the experts' feedback. Dr. Al Ali emphasized the game ecosystem factor, saying this was crucial as several other products before Joi had failed. Al-Salehi and Professor Mrad highlighted the educational elements and the need for them to be improved, mainly if the application's content is to be used in a school and within the community.
Fathalla defended his innovation by stating that he has a plan to make it profitable in the future, focusing on the price of the subscription of the various types of educational content within the game. Within this plan is to further develop Joi so that it can be played amongst groups of children, as opposed to just one individual. Moreover, he will utilize the motion tracking feature that allows Joi to analyze movements and psychometric actions.
Following lengthy deliberations, the jury announced that Mohammed Almoghawi, Sarah Aboerjaib, and Ahmad Fathalla were in danger of being eliminated. Ultimately though, it was Aboerjaib who was sent home, and she left saying that she was proud she had a prototype she could take back home to Kuwait.
Now, with the Grand Finale next week, only four contestants remain – Mohammed Almoghawi from Kuwait, Eiman Al Hamad from Qatar, Waddah Malaeb from Lebanon, and Ahmad Fathalla from Egypt. Who will be crowned this year’s top innovator?