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Bahraini Auto Inventors – Yes You Can!

January 21, 2011

There’s a nice story in today’s Gulf Daily News about a couple of Bahraini students who have invented the equivalent of an aircraft black box that will enable crash investigators to determine the cause of the accident:

A BLACK box for cars, similar to those found in airplanes, has been invented by two Bahraini students.

Bahrain University College of Information Technology students Fatima Al Ansari and Latifa Jamal came up with the device, which contains basic information about the car – such as its motion, function and features.

The aim is to provide vital information to crash investigators. However, the equipment also has a built-in GPS system.

“We depended on our practical experience and created a special programme to design the device, which is a first in the country,” said Ms Jamal. “Over time, we plan to perfect it and add more features.”

First off, congratulations, Fatima and Latifa. I hope you have patented the device and go on to sell millions of them to GM, Toyota and all the other car companies. Though I suspect that Porsche and Ferrari will not be the first to licence your technology.

Equally importantly, I hope that you will employ many fellow Bahrainis should you decide to form a company to develop the technology on a commercial basis. Bahrain’s love of cars and hi-tech gadgets should mean that you will have no problem attracting bright and motivated people to your company.

I can see many potential avenues for you to explore as you look for more features. Here are a couple:

The Rage Detector: a built-in heart monitor – either in the steering wheel or the seat belt – that picks up the heart rate and displays it on the dashboard. Combined with sudden acceleration, violent course deviation (particularly to the right), the Rage Detector triggers a voice response: “Calm Down!”. Note, though, that the voice should preferably be of the same sex as the driver – men don’t like being told what to do by women in a car, as Fiat found out when they had to change the voice command in their cars from female to male because Italian males objected.

The Stress Detector: Uses the same heart monitor as the Rage Detector, but with an additional monitor to measure hand perspiration. Picks up ambient noise, such as hooting cars, road drills and the bass response from nearby cars with turbocharged in-car music systems. Combines this input with sound from the interior of the car, such as men arguing and children screaming, and displays your stress level on a meter in the dashboard. At a given point the Stress Detector triggers a voice response with a number of calming messages, such as “Relax – you are only two kilometres from your destination”, or “Don’t worry – there is a Starbucks to your right in three kilometres”.

You could also have a special female setting that sends calming messages like “Relax, they’re only men”. But be prepared in your algorithms to recognise the Level 10 stress indicator – a voice in the car screaming at 120 decibels: “I AM NOT STRESSED!” This triggers a response such as “OK, you’re not stressed, but slow down anyway.”

On a more serious note, a device that automatically alerts police and breakdown services in the event of a catastrophic mechanical failure would be worth looking at, especially if you’re not in a position to make a call. I would find that a very comforting fall back on a long journey – Dammam-Riyadh for example.

So go for it, Fatima and Latifa – the sky’s the limit. Well, at least the road is, and there are plenty of them on the planet. Bahrain needs more inventors like you two.

Anyone reading this who has more ideas for Fatima and Latifa: feel free to post a comment.

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