RIT Dubai team transforms COVID-19 monitoring with AI and 4G

: A team from Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) Dubai has won a AED 20,000 prize for developing an innovative solution that aims to combat COVID-19 social distancing violations. The prize money was earned by the team following their recent win in the FabLab UAE Innovators Competition.

Second year BSc Computer Security students, Noman Sheikh and Syed Izhan Hyder, along with their supervisor and Professor of Computing Sciences, Dr. Ali Raza, are the team behind the new technology, which has been designed to be deployed in both educational and workplace settings.

Discussing the idea behind the tool, Noman said, “We know that social distancing is an important aspect in preventing the spread of Covid-19, so our idea was to create a tactical private 4G-LTE network using software defined radio integrated with AI based computer vision to detect violations and send an instant alert to the on-site security team through automation, so that they can intervene to enforce the regulations. We are moving forward with the implementation of this over 5G.”

Explaining the technology used to create the innovation, Izhan revealed, “The system combines computer vision technology with an artificial intelligence model detection algorithm to evaluate if social distancing violations are taking place. If social distance is not maintained, an automated message is sent to the security team via WhatsApp. The tactical 4G-LTE network allows us to provide networking capabilities anywhere and anytime with security of the communications over the network and over the air interface.”

Dr. Ali Raza continued, “An important element of the solution is that any violations can be immediately relayed to command and control to be acted upon quickly. This feature can have a number of applications beyond this technology, across various industrial and professional settings. This solution allows the digital transformation of monitoring and preventing the spread through close contact. I am looking forward to the migration of our solution to a 5G network where we can see the benefits of higher speeds to support higher resolution images with ultra-low latency.”

The innovation stood out among 40+ submissions to the FabLab UAE Innovators Competition. The team was one of six that made it through to the final stage of the competition to present their project in front of expert juries. In addition to the AED 20,000 prize money, the team will benefit from support to manufacture the product, including all the materials needed for the implementation of the project, as well as marketing and promotion, both locally and internationally.

Explaining the purpose of the competition, Innovation Programs Trainer at FabLab UAE, Eng. Waleed Yahya AlHamdi, said, “Fab lab was founded in 2015 by Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum Foundation for distinguished academic performance, the aim of FabLab is to create an integrated infrastructure to support innovation across all segments of society. Through a community network of Fabrication Laboratories, FabLab provides access to the most recent technologies, tools, and programs in the world of digital fabrication. The Innovators Competition is one initiative that seeks to attract individuals and teams who have innovative ideas, encourage them to think creatively, and provide the appropriate environment where they can turn their ideas into reality.”

Speaking about their success Noman said, “It’s a project that we have been working on for several months and it’s exciting to see it come to life. We are grateful for the support of Dr. Ali Raza and the opportunity to work with Fablab. We are excited about the next stage of the project using 5G.”

Dr Ali Raza concluded, “Noman and Izhan implemented an entire 4G-LTE radio and core network in a short space of time climbing a steep learning curve. I have been very impressed by their dedication to the project. Nurturing talent and offering guidance to these kinds of projects is an important part of our role as professors and we are very proud of what they have achieved. We are also grateful to the TDRA ICT Fund for their funding of the Digital Transformation Lab in which these innovations are hosted and developed.”