A sprinkle of innovation

Everyone knows the Middle East is far behind when it comes to technological innovation as compared to North America, Europe and Asia. But at least this week we’ve seen two tech innovations being launched here.

Tags: Abu Dhabi Media CompanyInfinitec (infinitec.com)United Arab Emirates
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By  Gareth Van Zyl Published  February 24, 2010

Google recently claimed that the state of innovation in the Middle East as a whole is in bad shape compared to the rest of the world.

In his Google Day Arabia 2.0 keynote, Mohammad Gawdat, Google's Managing Director for Southern and Eastern Europe as well as the Middle East and Africa region, said that there was only a total of 3,224 patents filed from the MENA region in the last thirteen years.

"Japan in 2008 alone filed two hundred thirty three thousand patents - that's huge if you compare it to the Middle East. So in brief, the region is not in good shape," Gawdat explained while comparing the Middle East to countries such as Germany, Russia, China and the United States.

So taking this challenging situation into account, it’s good to at least come across and read about some technological innovations happening in our backyard

The first innovation that was announced this week happens to be that of an infinite memory USB device developed by a Dubai-based company called Infinitec and manufactured in Malaysia and Singapore.

It’s been called an IUM, which stands for Infinite USB Memory device. The way in which it works is that the device looks like any other memory stick, but acts as a wireless connector between a personal computer and anything that is USB-enabled: a laptop, DVD player, gaming system or stereo. The device is officially to be launched on 1 March 2010 (www.infinitec.com); so we'll be sure to find out much more about it on launch day.

The second notable innovation to come out of the Middle East this week happens to be that of an augmented reality game.

Popular Arabic children’s comic book character Majid is moving a step closer to audiences with the launch of a new Augmented Reality (AR) game, in celebration of the comic book’s 32nd year anniversary.

The February 24 and March 3 editions of the magazine will feature a ‘magical’ page that contains a printed ‘marker’ for use on Majid.ae. This printed marker can be held up to a webcam, and it triggers the digital recognition software downloaded from the magazine’s website Majid.ae.

One of the games readers can play is a racing game where the comic books or any other surface that has the special marker can be used as a steering wheel controller.

It’s been a good week then so far, but we need more developments like these in the Middle East. We need to change from being passive consumers eager to purchase the latest technologies from North America, Europe and Asia; to asking ourselves questions about what we’re actively contributing to technology innovation. I’d like to come across many more stories like those mentioned above…

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