Game Changers The Norm Breakers Issue

The solution to high road traffic deaths may be in your glasses

We speak to Juhaina Al Hinai, the founder of Gafwa.

An alarm clock’s main purpose is to wake us up from sleep so that we do not miss out on work or a doctor’s appointment. But what if you could not afford to sleep at all? What if you are a guard, an ambulance driver or simply a person who has to drive from point A to point B, and falling asleep would be traumatic?

Juhaina Al Hinai, a 24-year-old Omani senior year software technology student at Middle East’s College, found the answer to help tacakle this problem a year ago.

It was a typical afternoon for Juhaina as she browsed through her Samsung mobile phone. The device’s smart screen turns black when she looks away from it, and that is when she was inspired to create Gafwa.

Gafwa, which translates to ‘nap’ in English, is a small light electronic device, not larger than a pencil eraser, that a user can clip to the temples of his or her eyeglasses or sunglasses, and that has a sensitive technology that can detect when an eye shuts. It would then trigger an alarm to wake the person up, thus avoiding any causalities or dangers that may arise.

Soon after, in February 2017, Juhaina and fellow students joined forces and formed Insan, a student-led company that translates to ‘human’ in English, that aims to enhance people’s lives around the world with Gafwa as their first innovative product, which she and her team produced entirely in Oman.

When asked about the inspiration behind her company’s name, she stated that the human being is the most resilient and perseverant of God’s creatures, and their company would be just that.

Their prototype, clipped onto a bright yellow sunglasses, which looks hip, is already making a positive impression in exhibitions in which the students have participated in Muscat, with a number of  companies already offering to support them in their marketing and distribution efforts.

But, it does not stop with companies’ offering their support. Oman’s government is paying attention, too. Government-owned Oman Investment Fund launched a US$ 200 million fund at the end of 2016, to invest in start-up technology companies in the region and the world.

‘The product would be affordable and will help us save so many lives’, says Juhaina.

Last year, Oman witnessed 692 road deaths, an increase of 8 per cent from the previous year, according to Oman Royal Police.

However, the real challenge for her company is to raise enough capital to mass-produce their product.

‘So far, we are spending from our personal savings. However, we will be needing to raise capital either through venture capitalists or banks, but we are determined and confident that we can do it’, states Juhaina.

She says her family has been really encouraging her work. ‘I dedicate my weekends and whenever I can to develop my company with my team members’, states Juhaina, highlighting that starting a small company that busy students run is quite challenging due to their tight schedules, but this is a problem that will quickly resolve for her when she graduates in December and will have full time to manage and work on their current product and on their future ones as well.

Juhaina does not see herself applying for a job when she graduates. Instead, she will focus entirely on building and developing Insan and Gafwa.

‘Some think we’re crazy, but we will prove them wrong’, she laughed.

Sekka Editorial.