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July 12, 2024
PR Newswire

European Patent Office: Female Tunisian innovators take third place in Young Inventors Prize 2024 with smart wheelchair technology

MUNICH, July 9, 2024 /PRNewswire/ — The European Patent Office (EPO) today awarded the Tunisian team comprising Khaoula Ben Ahmed, Ghofrane Ayari, Souleima Ben Temime, and Sirine Ayari third place in the Young Inventors Prize at the European Inventor Award 2024. The team received a prize of 5,000 EUR for their pioneering work on a smart wheelchair control system that significantly improves mobility for the disabled. The team from Tunisia was one of three finalists, with Dutch scientist Rochelle Niemeijer taking first place and winning 20,000 EUR and Ukrainian inventor Valentyn Frechka securing second place and 10,000 EUR.

The team’s invention, MOOVOBRAIN, empowers users with disabilities to control wheelchairs using brain signals and voice commands, enhancing their independence and mobility. This technology not only signifies a major leap in assistive devices but also reflects the team’s commitment to inclusivity and innovation in medical technology.

“Winning a place in the Young Inventors Prize is a dream come true for all of us. We are deeply humbled and incredibly grateful for this honour. This recognition is not just an achievement for our team, but a testament to the power of collaboration, perseverance, and passion,” say the team. “It inspires us to keep pushing boundaries and to continue making a positive impact through innovation to change the life of people with disabilities around the world.

The smart control system developed by the team uses sensors and software that interpret the user’s gestures, allowing for precise and intuitive wheelchair navigation. This technological advancement is particularly vital in environments where joystick or button controls may be cumbersome or inaccessible. Motivated to help by alarming World Health Organization (WHO) statistics, which estimate that approximately 80 million people globally may require wheelchairs, the team is working hard to address this growing need.

Khaoula Ben Ahmed encourages persistence and passion in pursuit of technological advancements, especially for women and girls in STEM; “For women and girls out there, just don’t give up. You need to have an internal motivation to continue, so find it before you start. It helps when you have a reason for doing what you are doing. Once you have an internal motivation, nothing will stop you after that.”

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