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A smart robot that dispenses medicines, files lab reports and sets up appointments will be coming soon to a hospital near you, if an ingenious Bahrain-based teenager has her way.
Amal Albadawi, a Creativity Private School student, has devised an artificial intelligence (AI) powered Pharmabot that uses responsive sensors and screens to carry out medical and healthcare tasks that don’t require human intervention.
Amal’s inspirational idea won her $2,000 in the ‘Tatawwar: Building Tomorrow’s Minds’ and second place in the competition which featured more than 5,000 students aged 15-18 from 1,800 schools across the Middle East and North Africa region.
“When the spotlight turned on me during the live-streamed final awards event on Zoom, I thought that was a mistake, I was surprised at first, then I started crying and was left speechless!” said the 16-year-old Mahooz resident.
The interactive online and face-to-face contest, which is a joint initiative of HSBC and potential.com, brings together schools, parents and the business community to innovate for a sustainable future by addressing one of three United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals: 1. Climate Action, 2. Human Health and Well-being, 3. Clean Water and Sanitation.
For Amal, robotics and AI are a new-found passion, as she has always wanted to become a surgeon.
“The Pharmabot is a robot that functions using AI and responsive sensors and screens that will serve non-human needing tasks, dispensing medications, lab reports, setting up appointments, and communicating with other departments in a hospital,” said the Egyptian who has lived in Bahrain since she was two-months-old.
The idea has its origin in Amal seeking to find ways to get machines to do boring, repetitive tasks, reducing errors and leaving humans free to think and be creative.
According to a ResearchGate publication, extensive work schedules, especially amid the pandemic, have led to medication inaccuracy rates of up to 30 per cent in hospitals.
“Pharmaceutical transactions are facilitated by linking the pharmabot to a secure and personalised patient ID,” explained Amal, allaying fears about patient confidentiality.
Inspired by her success, the young student aspires to win a place at the University of Toronto’s biotechnology programme.
“For me, Tatawwar was not just a competition but a journey. I met amazing people who inspired me and I learned so many new things. It was a truly transformational experience,” said Amal.
Her prototype will be showcased at Expo2020 in Dubai alongside first place winner Asma Bey, from Algeria, and third place Abdulmohsen Alghanim, from Kuwait, and they will also receive a total of $8,000 in prizes.
Asma bagged first place and a $5,000 prize purse with her ‘PVM Supply’ invention which is a portable, affordable and accessible ventilator that works with both solar and battery power.
Meanwhile, Abdulmohsen walked away with a cash prize of $1,000 for his R 2 Filter, a sink filter to recycle water.
They will also be supported to crowdfund their projects and develop them further.
The talented trio, alongside the top 17 that were shortlisted from 245 students, went through a rigorous acceleration programme that included twice-weekly webinars to help project owners fine-tune their pitching skills, and learn key business skills including financial projections, raising funding, future career fitness, technology trends and marketing.
Each webinar brought together international experts on each of these topics to help the students. In addition, each student was provided with four one-on-one coaching sessions and will get a one-year free membership to their local fablabs, where they can continue to develop their prototypes.
The seven judges that listened to two-minute pitches from the 20 talented finalists before choosing their top three included Bahrain’s Youth and Sport Affairs Ministry, the Education and Higher Education Ministry in Qatar, the Education Ministry in the UAE, Zayed University, The British University in Dubai, Al Tamimi & Company and Global Ventures. They provided diverse perspectives when evaluating the finalists’ projects.
They also recognised three other finalists from Bahrain, Egypt and Qatar with a special award for their commitment to scientific research, market research and innovative prototypes development.