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UAE student's invention makes smartphones smarter

$10 device transforms smartphones into 'multipurpose tool' for engineers

Alaeddine Mokri, a PhD student and research assistant at Masdar Institute.
Alaeddine Mokri, a PhD student and research assistant at Masdar Institute.

A PhD student at the UAE's Masdar Institute of Science and Technology has won an award from Intel after developing a device that can turn a smartphone into a "powerful multipurpose tool for engineers and scientists" at a cost of $10.

The ‘UltraSmart' project developed by Alaeddine Mokri, a PhD student and research assistant in the inter-disciplinary doctoral degree programme at Masdar Institute, was one of four winners in the Intel Business Challenge Middle East & North Africa 2013 regional finals ceremony held in Abu Dhabi last month.

The four winners will now compete at the Intel Global Challenge, to be held at UC Berkley in the Silicon Valley in October 2013 for a chance to win up to $50,000.

The Masdar Institute entry, which represented the UAE, competed against more than 700 projects presented by more than 2,300 students and engineers from 14 countries in the Middle East and North Africa. A committee of business experts assessed the projects to shortlist the top 25 before selecting the four winners.

UltraSmart allows smartphones to perform functions such as 3D scanning, and to scan plots and charts to gather data. It can also be used to measure the distance, curvature, or the surface area of a given object. Furthermore, it can be used as a computer mouse with extra features that do not exist in standard computer control devices.

The integrated smartphone tool will help developers of applications for smartphones and tablets to cater to scientists and engineers, especially in industrial design. The device is also likely to benefit designers and manufacturers of solar cells, and engineers involved with nanotechnology and nano-science.


Dr. Fred Moavenzadeh, president, Masdar Institute, said: "This smartphone device developed by Alaeddine is only one of his recent achievements and we congratulate our PhD student on his remarkable feat. We are confident he will achieve similar feats to become the pride of Masdar Institute and the UAE."

Alaeddine Mokri said: "I feel that I am paying back to a country that I deeply love and feel indebted to because now I will be representing the UAE in the Intel Global Business Challenge, where not many countries will be present. I also feel I have brought something new to the world and I am making some change, although little. Besides, I developed this device in Abu Dhabi with the knowledge that I acquired here, and tools that I bought here.

"Now I see it standing out in the Arab world and I will be competing at a global event. Now I understand what they mean by Abu Dhabi's ‘knowledge-based economy' and I see it happening."

The winning projects at the Intel Business Challenge Middle East & North Africa 2013 included Exa.IO, a cloud-based animation rendering system from Bahrain; Kashef, a landmine detection system from Egypt; EgTNS, a traffic management system from Egypt; and UltraSmart from Masdar Institute in the UAE.

Masdar Institute of Science and Technology (Masdar Institute) was established by the government of Abu Dhabi as a not-for-profit, private graduate university to develop indigenous R&D capacity in Abu Dhabi addressing issues of importance to the region.