An automatic guitar tuner, a heart rate monitor designed specifically for swimmers and a tactile communication bracelet, these are just a few of the innovative inventions that have come out of " Stars of Science ."
Produced by the Qatar Foundation and airing on MBC4, the region's leading innovation program is set to launch its 7th season Sept. 18, showcasing "its most talented innovators to date" hailing from throughout the Middle East and North Africa.
The purpose of the program is to place an emphasis on technology and education in the region, demonstrating how Arab nations must come together to support such initiatives, organizers of the show said during a press conference.
“This year’s applicants possess an abundance of talent and unique life experience, as well as impressive academic credentials. It will truly be a daunting challenge to narrow the field to only 12 candidates,” said Youssif Abdulrahman Saleh, general manager of Qatar Shell Research and Technology Center and a long-time judge for the show.
Fouad Mrad, the executive director of ESCWA Regional Center for Technology and a judge for the show, explained that the Arab world is always playing a catch-up game with the rest of the world in terms of technology and entertainment and "Stars of Science" is working to change that.
"The greatest impact is touching the culture among hundreds of thousands of young Arab guys and girls who are spread from the Algerian desert and Moroccan desert and all the way to Iraq. I know this is what is happening because whenever I am traveling, I am always asked, 'Are you here to select inventors [for the program]?'" Mrad told StepFeed.
"I believe [the show has been] proving to the masses that [Arab] young men and ladies can join the production cycle, the value chain of the world. They can consume and they can produce. We are not only consumers, we are producers as well."
Highlighting why this coming season is exceptionally exciting, Mrad said, "In this season, I am extremely happy with the credibility that was built over six years. Graduate students from here and abroad have realized that this is not only a TV program ... but this is a true innovation lab. This is a true prototyping, fabricating story that has resources and true mentors and a professional environment."
"That credibility took years to build and you're going to see it this season when you see PhD students and PhD graduates who are bringing their publications and their thesis to prototype in 'Stars of Science.'"
Mrad explained that when "Stars of Science" began, the inventions competing on the show were often very grassroots and in beginning stages. During this season, the show will feature top-notch research and inventions produced by individuals coming from some of the world's best higher education institutions.
In order to find the region’s top inventors, judges travel around the Arab world on a casting tour during the first four episodes. From thousands of applications, 12 candidates are selected to travel to the show's laboratories in Qatar Science and Technology Park in Doha.
In Doha, the 12 inventors will work with mentors to refine their ideas and build prototypes of their inventions. Contestants will be tested in elimination episodes, during which the judges evaluate their engineering and design skills. Four finalists who survive the elimination rounds earn a share of the $600,000 prize, with the winner being determined in a special live finale.
After 6 seasons, the show boasts 92 alumni who have filed 76 patents and started 17 companies.