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Story | Research
4 October 2020

TV Review: High tension and unexpected twists as Stars of Science reaches a crunch point


The final eight contestants in Season 12 of Stars of Science were revealed on this week’s episode.

The latest episode of QF’s innovation TV show saw the eight finalists for Season 12 decided.

After enduring rigorous rounds of the casting episodes, tensions ran high and uncertainty loomed in a fate-deciding episode of Stars of Science. Only eight out of the 22 remaining contestants would qualify to realize their dreams of advancing their innovations, and take one step closer to being crowned the winner of the show’s Season 12.

Although there was a spotlight on the female contestants during the casting episodes, only two out of five contestants qualified for the prototyping episodes. Among the female contestants who did not make it through was Razan Al Kalbani from Oman, who had hoped that she could represent an example of an Omani woman reaching the finals. However, she was not selected, as her innovation was deemed important, but it still required more research.

Representing the medical field, Sarah Aboerjaib from Kuwait was one of the first contestants who qualified with her Fractured Bone Optical Scanner. This innovation’s originality stems from the product being a handheld device that uses radiant energy in identifying bone fractures that can’t be visually detected or through physical examination. It promises to be a much-needed device that can contribute to more thorough assessments, leading to more precise results.

Qatari innovator Eiman Al Hamad, who is one of the finalists.

The second female contestant to head into the last eight was Eiman Al Hamad from Qatar; her innovative program, Arabic Conversation Fraud Detection, will be tackling gaps in the cybersecurity domain. Using real-time data, the program indicates phone fraud through its unique recognition elements which complement the various Arabic accents and intricate language.

Dr. Issa Khalil, Principal Scientist at Hamad Bin Khalifa University’s (HBKU) Qatar Computing Research Institute emphasized that “the challenging part when it comes to Arabic technologies is the different accents,” and “the problems become more challenging and we still require more research to be able to capture and analyze such phishing attacks.”

In a surprising twist of fate, Wael Abroun from Morocco, although qualifying initially to the top eight, decided to withdraw from the competition due to his work commitments in Belgium. Wael impressed the judges during the preliminary rounds with his innovation tackling fake news and his defining character, and he made an unexpected departure by saying he would try to come back for the next season.

With Wael’s seat vacant, it allowed another person’s hopes to be realized. And the next in line was Dr. Azzam Alwan from Lebanon, who originally had very close scores with fellow contestant Ahmad Fathalla when called in to learn their group’s result. Azzam felt disappointed at first that his hard work did not pay off; however, the cards eventually lined up for him. His innovation 3D Biometric software is designed to be able to protect end-users from any potential attacks through its distinct ability to memorize the various combinations of finger strokes on the device’s screen.

Tensions ran high as the countdown continued to the naming of the eight finalists.

Building the suspense even further, Jamal Shakhtour from Palestine was the only contestant to enter the Stars of Science arena alone to learn whether he would continue in the competition. Those heart-racing moments turned into relief as soon as he realized that he was among the top eight. Jamal’s innovation Dual Mask Rescue is designed to supply clean air through a filter to those experiencing endangering situations exposed to poisonous gases. This idea stemmed from Jamal’s first-hand experience and aims to contribute to saving lives.

Contributing to the advances in the biomedical field, Waddah Malaeb from Lebanon qualified with his Ductal Organoid-On-A-Chip innovation. The chip allows bio cells to grow outside the human body, and by combining technology and engineering, is intended to help researchers make further progress in drug testing.

Dr. Lawrence Stanton, Scientific Director at HBKU’s Qatar Biomedical Research Institute stated: “In the past, we treated people always the same way, so essentially one size fits all,” and “This is going to speed things up and make things cheaper and faster in the future.”

Othman Abu Laban from Jordan held off fellow contestant and friend Muntazer Al Kaabi from Iraq - however, he had hoped that both of them would qualify together. Othman’s innovation Adaptive Car Headrest automatically adjusts the driver’s head position into a safe distance that will protect from any potential whiplash accidents, increasing their chances of avoiding serious injury.

Representing the dentistry field, Dr. Mohammad Almogahwi from Kuwait qualified with the Automated Hands-Free Toothbrush. This innovation allows for better oral hygiene through its distinct U-shape that covers all of the teeth. With its cleaning solution and water dispensation functions, the innovation ensures that all teeth are effectively cleaned, and is designed to help everyone, especially children and people with disabilities.

The Stars of Science jury held the decisions about who would make it through to the next stages in their hands.

The competition was fierce in the final group. comprising Ahmad Fathalla from Egypt, Shadi Al Zubi from Jordan, Waleed Noaman from Lebanon, and Dr. Azzam Alwan from Lebanon. Stakes were high in a teeth-clenching reveal, which saw Ahmad qualify with his innovation Educational Platform Using Electronic Cubes. It focuses on using smart cubes to deliver interactive edutainment in English and Arabic, and contributes to child development.

In a surprising finale to the episode, the judges introduced a new feature to the program: cards that allowed selected contestants to qualify directly to next season’s Majlis Knowledge episode. It also means that if any contestant drops out, they can take their place. Professor Fouad Mrad selected Dr. Azzam Alwan, who qualified for this season’s top eight; with Professor Abdelhamid El Zoheiry picking Dr. Sarah Hassan from Lebanon and Dr. Khalid Al Ali choosing Shadi Al Zubi from Jordan for next season.

The selected contestants felt lucky and happy, as they saw their scientific journey on the program continue. But with the top eight contestants selected, more challenges and obstacles lie ahead in the prototyping stages. Who will make it past the eliminations? Next week, we’ll start to find out.

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