The Ismaili Centre, Dubai held its first two-day Hackathon recently, which introduced 35 young individuals to real-world technological problems and challenged them to identify sustainable global solutions.

The participants, aged 13-18, first heard from a panel of speakers including representatives from Apple, Microsoft, Airbnb, Visa, and Facebook. The panellists focused on the technological solutions responding to challenges faced by their respective organisations, and discussed how these innovations benefitted local communities and society at large, across sectors and borders. These discussions centred around a variety of breakthrough technologies including genomics, cryptocurrency, nanotechnology, and virtual and augmented reality.

Then came the real challenge: Participants were tasked with building prototypes of solutions to problems related to artificial intelligence, robotics, data sciences, and 3-D printing. 

All teams presented innovative technological solutions that would improve the lives of people working in fields such as healthcare, non-governmental organisations, education, sustainable cities, and agriculture, in less than 24 hours.

Two of the solutions presented have received interest from external individuals or organisations. The first solution was the use of artificial intelligence for garbage disposal on streets. Participants Rohaan Gulamani, Amaan Vasani, Kawar Niat Khan, and Armaan Lalani created a prototype for the AI garbage disposal using 3-D printing, and are currently working on upgrading the design for a motorized prototype.

The second solution was the establishment of a platform for non-governmental organisations to come under one banner in order to simplify the process of funding requests. Group members Sara Firdos, Zahid Surani, Zenah Merchant, and Mehak Jindani created the website — which compiles all potential NGOs for donors to browse through rather than visiting each entity’s website individually — and are currently looking into ensuring that the website satisfies local laws and regulations.

“Hackathon is about inspiring inquiring minds with knowledge and know-how to find real world solutions to real world challenges for the betterment of the world.  I could not be happier with the potential I saw during this event,” said Saira Gulamani, co-educator of Hackathon.