June 15, 2019: A six-year-old boy dies after he is forgotten inside a bus for several hours in Dubai.

September 4, 2017: A six-year-old girl dies of suffocation in Abu Dhabi after her parents mistakenly left her in a locked car for six hours.

June 4, 2017: Two sisters, aged two and four, die after they get accidentally locked in their father’s car in Ajman.

“I used to feel very sad when I’d read about the many incidents where children – and even pets – died after they were mistakenly left locked in cars,” says Trisha Sayani. “It was heart-rending.”

But unlike many others, the grade seven student of Gems Our Own English High School in Dubai decided to do something to reduce, if not completely stop, such incidents from recurring.

Last year, she began reading up about cars and apps in detail, after which she discussed an idea she had with Marie Ramos, her teacher in entrepreneurial skill development at her school. “My plan was to develop a device that could alert the parents if their child was mistakenly locked in the car,” says the 13-year-old.

With help and support from her school teachers and her parents, Trisha quickly developed a prototype to “help save innocent lives”.

Called Bilvard 360, Trisha’s prototype includes a device that can be installed in a vehicle and registered to an app.

Trisha Sayani exhibiting Bilvard 360 at Gems Our Own English High School during the innovation challenge

A couple of minutes after the car’s engine is turned off and doors locked, the device triggers a sensor camera that scans the car’s interior. The moment the sensor detects any movement or even a sleeping child or pet in the car, it dashes off an alert message to the phones of up to five people who are registered on the app. But it doesn’t stop there.

“The device also turns on the car’s fan to circulate air inside the vehicle,” says Trisha. If none of the five recipients of the message responds within a specified time and unlocks the car’s door, the device will trigger the automobile’s burglar alarm system, alerting people in the vicinity.

Trisha showcased the Bilvard 360 prototype at the Gems Innovation Challenge earlier this year where it was widely appreciated, helping her get a chance to display it at the Global Innovation Challenge award (junior category) where it bagged first place.

Trisha is thrilled at the achievement, the prototype of which she began developing last November and displayed at the challenge in February this year.

Trisha is now looking forward to a one-year mentorship that Gems Education has offered her to develop her device. “My project needs some fine-tuning. With help from mentors, my teachers and parents, I’m sure this device will help save lives in the future,” says the girl, a resident of Karama in Dubai. “I want to make it available to the public as soon as possible because this is something that is going to help the community in a big way.”

An app to enhance well-being

Aaditya Rahul Shivadey and Jegajith Ramesh developed an app called Emotik that helps people with emotional quotient-based positive feeds on their smartphones.

For many students, the very term “board examinations” is enough to trigger feelings of stress and tension. Quite often, particularly during study holidays, students remain cloistered in their rooms avoiding distractions of any kind, trying to make the most of their time. Cut away from friends and peer support groups, they often have little to rely on to destress. Jegajith Ramesh and Aaditya Rahul Shivadey, students of Gems Modern Academy in Dubai, have developed an app that could be a boon for just such students.

Called Emotik, the award-winning app “in simple terms is a networking group for students,” says Jegajith, in a phone interview from his home in Dubai’s Meadows. “We wanted to provide students a platform that would support and help them if they’re feeling sad, low or angry or even if they are seeking help in some area of study – all with the option of not having to reveal their real identity.

“Since Aaditya and I are ourselves students we could better understand issues our peer group faces and that has helped us develop this app.”

Aaditya Shivadey and Jegajith Ramesh presenting their app Emotik at the Global Innovation Challenge in Dubai

Emotik is in effect a closed network for students that not only offers study-related help in certain subjects but also provides them with curated content depending on the mood they are experiencing at any time. “The app has six emojis, or vibes, including three representing moods – Sad, Happy and Calm. The others are Education, Funny and Current Issues. There are also tabs that stream content related to health and fitness,” says Aaditya. 

A user can log in anonymously, click on a particular emoji and get content that can help improve their mood. For instance, if a student is feeling sad, he/she can click on the ‘Sad’ vibe, and videos, stories, memes and pictures that can help elevate the user’s mood will be streamed on the user’s phone.

Users can also rate and ‘like’ pieces of content. “The most-liked posts and content will feature high so a person doesn’t have to spend time scrolling to get to a post that has been found to be useful to others who were in the same boat,” says Aaditya.

Jegajith adds: “The purpose of the app is to improve a person’s mood. We have permission from Dailymotion – a video-sharing technology platform – to stream their content on our app. Content is also generated by users but we monitor everything that goes online.”

Emotik bagged an award at the Innovation Mela in 2019. It also earned the duo praise when they presented it at the Curtin University’s Business Cup Challenge 2019 and the Gems Global Innovation Challenge 2020. “A leading UAE businessman is keen to take this project forward. He, and some teachers from our school, are mentoring us on entrepreneurship challenges and how to overcome them,” says Aaditya.

Aaditya and Jegajith do not forget to credit an entrepreneurship course they participated in at Woodstock School in Mussoorie, India, for helping hone their idea of an app of this kind. “During a summer vacation, we attended a course there where we were mentored by Silicon Valley professionals,” Aaditya says. “We got a lot of practical hands-on advice from them – knowledge that would be useful in the real world.”

Jegajith seconds that. “The mentors there inspired and influenced us hugely. If earlier we had a vision, by the end of the course we had concretised the idea and had a clear picture of how to take it forward.

“A big lesson we learnt was that there is no right time to start anything. If you have a plan or a project in mind, just get moving… start working on it right away,” says Jegajith.

Both admit that developing the app involved a lot of hard work. The first step was speaking with students to find out their needs. “Many students aren’t willing to open up and talk about mental health issues and are reluctant to seek help, if required. So our app offers the option for users to remain anonymous,” says Aaditya.

For and by students

Jegajith admits that there may be similar apps online. “But what sets Emotik apart is that it is built by students and is for students. It’s contemporary in look and feel and is extremely user-friendly, informing and educating in a fun and engaging way.” The duo is all praise for the support received from mentors at school including Nargish Khambatta, principal of Gems Modern Academy. The mentors and entrepreneurship team in school, including Ritesh sir and Eriyat Lakshmi ma’am, have been encouraging us at all stages, they say.

“We have also been receiving a lot of positive and constructive feedback from several early users as well,” says Aaditya. “We are taking on board some suggestions.”

Going forward, Aaditya and Jegajith plan to recruit Emotik ambassadors to monitor, manage and popularise the app in other Gems schools as well. “We want to make Emotik the go-to app for the student community here,” the duo say.

Emotik is now available on Google Playstore.

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