We’ve all seen these talent shows where people come on stage to sing or dance or do some tricks to win a prize. But to apply the idea to technology and get some of Qatar’s most talented youth to showcase their innovative ICT ideas? Well, that’s new!
Spotlights everywhere. Lots of people gather to see what’s happening in that corner of the Doha Exhibition Center. Excitement is in the air. This was how the atmosphere around QITCOM’s Innovation Theatre last week. And it’s that excitement because know that there will be just one winner and when it comes down to the final choice , it’s not just innovation that has the final say – but how well contestants market their ideas and show their passion for them.
In a circular theatre-like corner, audiences – both youth and adults – gathered to listen to about thirty ideas and select the finalists over the course of three days. A jury panel and the audience were voting via iPods for the innovation and innovator they liked the most.
Six contestants were selected for the final showdown, which took place on Thursday, May 26, where an expert panel evaluated the feasibility and financial potential of the ideas pitched. And as a member of the audience (yes I also voted via iPod!), I got to really see that it’s persuasion and marketing that really makes you a winner. You could have this one great spectacular idea but it’s how you pitch it, how you believe in it and how you study its feasibility that makes people buy into the idea and moves it forward.
One of the6 finalists, Nisha Vermann, pitched an interesting idea on how to embed augmented reality in tourism, particularly in driving traffic to museums – a great idea considering Qatar is increasingly becoming a touristic hub, especially since the Qatar 2022 World Cup bid win. Another finalist, Jaber Henzeb, created a device which would act like an e-nurse that reminds patients about the quantity and timings of their medications.
Another idea was Rana Sakhawy’s Urban Souq, a website-magazine-like platform that blends e-shopping, Web 2.0, fashion and usability in a single, one-stop platform with designers from various parts of the Arab region.
Ammar Khaled from Al Jazeera chose a more innovative social idea, where he created a “Virtual Majlis” that provides a single, aggregated platform for Qatar’s youth to voice their opinions on various Qatari life affairs, with voices from Facebook, Twitter and other social networks grouped in the Majlis and built upon via an ongoing discussion stream. Such aggregation and ongoing conversation is what sets it apart from forums.
And the idea clicked with the jury – Ammar received a Special Culture and Heritage Award for his project which already garnered support from Qatar Foundation and Fakhoura.
And the winner? Wanasa World, an innovative project by Khalid Abou Jasoom, who along with a group of his best and most talented friends, created “Wanasa World”, an edutainment-centered website that embeds educational tips in an entertaining atmosphere with Qatari characters that offer kids fun moments that they would first enjoy, but also learn something new, without spoon feeding or direct instructions. Three years in the works, thanks to a talented group of Qataris, the site is expected to be live by September 2011 as a beta version, while the official launch is expected to be in mid 2012.
In pitching his idea to the jury, Khalid reminded the audience of “Club Penguin,” a similar edutainment project that was once a small modest start-up that ended up being acquired by Walt Disney for 700 million USD!
Congrats to Khalid and all the “Wanasa World” team. I certainly suggest looking out for them in the coming months and am sure they will be a valuable addition to the cyberworld. What educational topics would you hope to see discussed in “Wanasa World”? Tell us your thoughts.
And by all means, follow all the great finalists to see how their innovative ideas progress!