A team representing Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) achieved quite the feat at the 2020 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) Innovation Awards ceremony in Las Vegas last week.

The awards program annually honors "outstanding design and engineering in consumer technology products," and the team won for pioneering a marine data-gathering device that was developed on the KAUST campus. Named Bluefin, the tech gadget scooped an award in the Tech for a Better World category. 

Under the guidance of KAUST's electrical engineering professor Muhammad Mustafa Hussain, the university's MMH Labs team developed the fish tagging technology which "can measure water temperature, pressure, depth, and pH levels in parts of the ocean where humans cannot reach," according to the university's website. 

The advanced technology is going to be made available for scuba divers, naval forces, and fisheries interested in marine life tagging for ecological data later this year. 

Professor Muhammad Mustafa Hussain Source: KAUST

The fact that it won a CES award marks a major boost for the project that was created at KAUST and tested on the shores of the Red Sea. 

The gadget is lightweight (2.4 grams) and can be attached to the shells or skin of marine creatures in a noninvasive and biocompatible manner. This allows for the continuous transmission of ecological data over an entire year from depths as far as 2km. 

Revealing the main vision behind the innovative creation, the professor told Arab News "I realized we could help marine species by developing comfortable and convenient wearables for them."

"The sensors monitor the environment, save the data in an integrated memory, and when the tag is brought to the surface it can wirelessly transmit the data to nearby smartphones, tablets, or computers," he explained. 

Hussain added that Bluefin is considered unique because it's the first-ever technology that's fully flexible due to the use of silicon.

KAUST faculty have been excelling at similar research projects

KAUST's faculty and students are no strangers to making remarkable achievements in various fields. 

In October, Dr. Mohamed Eddaoudi, a professor of chemistry and director of the university's Advanced Membrane and Porous Materials Center (AMPM), won the Abdul Hameed Shoman Award for Arab Researchers. The award in annually presented by Abdul Hameed Shoman Foundation and focuses on six disciplines of science. 

Eddaoudi wasn't the only KAUST faculty to win the prestigious award last year as Lebanese-born professor of applied mathematics and computational science, Dr. Omar Knio, also received one in the Mathematical Modeling category.  

In July, a professor of marine science at the university, Carlos Duarte, received the 2019 Ramon Margalef Prize in Ecology from the Generalitat of Catalonia. The award lauded him as a world leader in marine ecology and biological oceanography for his research on "blue carbon."