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Million-dirham idea could save lives of UAE motorists

Two Emirati students have come up with an idea to help save the lives of drivers that feel drowsy behind the wheel in the United Arab Emirates, and it could soon become a reality. Khaled Al Dhaheri and Ahmed Al Mansouri are developing potentially life-saving software that will alert drivers if it looks like they are about to fall asleep. Vehicle owners would be able to install the tech, should it come into being, inside their cars or download a mobile phone app. The pair have been given Dh1m in funding via the Future Medical Stars programme, which is operated by Al Bayt Mitwahid Association and VPS Healthcare. 

The software is connected to a device that is positioned on the car’s rear-view mirror in order to track the eye movements of the driver. Al Mansouri, an 18-year-old AI student who is set to go and study in China, says that the device uses a camera to scan the face of the driver. If the person’s eyes are wide open, the device does nothing. However, if the eyes begin to close or start blinking, the device will issue an alert in the form of loud beeps to try to alert the driver. The system also activates in the event that the driver turns in their seat or otherwise takes their eyes off the road, such as if their head tilts as they begin to fall asleep. 

Although some existing cars already possess similar forms of technology, the We Heart software is also targeting lorries and all kinds of other vehicles. Lorry drivers should find the tech particularly useful due to the fact that they are often embarking on long-distance journeys. Al Mansouri says that they are particularly interested in any people who have vehicles that are slightly out of date as well as truck drivers who work long hours and shifts. The scheme could help to boost road safety in the UAE, according to VPS Healthcare’s Strategy and Innovation Director Pankaj Paul. 

Paul notes that the bottom line is that while technology to help drivers perform better is readily available in newer motor vehicles, there are hundreds and millions of others, particularly cars and lorries, that do not possess this technology. Given that tiredness is one of the largest issues in regard to road safety, not just in the UAE but all over the world, the new app has a potentially enormous customer base. 

When the system is ready to go, the team at Future Medical Stars will aid the students in finding potential buyers. Al Mansouri says that they would like to focus their initial efforts on car insurance companies, given that they are the ones that usually take on the financial burden of motor vehicle accidents, and that such firms may be able to introduce the system as a part of their overall car insurance packages to customers.