Power in the air

A science club student’s passion turns to a technology innovation

Dalia Younis
A science club student’s passion turns to a technology innovation
UNICEF/Egypt 2021/Ahmed Emad
28 February 2021

Mahmoud's passion for science started when he was first introduced to the school's science club in middle school. He says: "This science club was the most important activity in the school, but it was always scheduled at the end of the day, so nobody regularly attended, except me for 3 years! One time, the teacher explained how to turn screws to an electric magnet. This caught my attention and made me go to a library for the first time in my life to read books on magnetic energy.”

Mahmoud Ibrahim received a bachelor’s degree in systems and Information. He learned about "Meshwary" for the first time in 2016 when he attended a training course on Entrepreneurship and Life Skills. "Meshwary" (“My Journey”) is a project supported by UNICEF in cooperation with the Ministry of Youth and Sports and funded by the Embassy of the Netherlands, Swiss Embassy and USAID in several governorates to train adolescents and youth to become more financially and socially empowered.

With the encouragement and support received from “Meshwary”, Mahmoud decided to share an unusual idea with his trainers: “I had this idea since high school. I frequently charged my phone and used a lot of electricity, so I wanted to create a technology that is cost effective, very safe and could also be used to transfer files through Wi-Fi.”

When he brought up this idea, Mahmoud was actually mocked by some people - even specialists - who considered it as pure science fiction. Far from getting discouraged, Mahmoud insisted on moving forward developing a prototype. He was encouraged to do so by the professional guidance he received in the Meshwary training to transformideas into reality as he explains: "I learned how to do a feasibility study, set my priorities, make marketing and technical plans. I also learned that my project could have both a social aspect and good financial return."

A science club student’s passion turns to a technology innovation
UNICEF/Egypt 2021/Ahmed Emad

Within a year of Mahmoud's journey with "Meshwary", the first model of his project was born: a device that can operate even damaged electronic devices without electricity and can work under water. This model was made with simple tools, mostly used and recycled.

The project is based on a scientific concept called Wireless power transfer (WPT), where a transmitter device, connected to a power source, creates an electromagnetic field that produces electrical energy. This type of energy (or electricity) could be transmitted to a receiver device in the air without the need for wires or cables. This technology can eliminate the use of the wires and batteries, thus increasing the mobility, convenience, and safety of electronic devices.

Mahmoud’s invention has a software part that recognizes any nearby electric device and the needed frequency to operate it. On the other hands, the hardware part of the invention acts as the power source that transmits electricity to this device. Once Mahmoud turns his invention on and places, for example, a light bulb within its range, it simply lights up without being physically connected to anything (even if already damaged).

Mahmoud's device provides a safe solution for children, as the electrical devices that operate through it do not pose a risk to if they get wet.

Through "Meshwary" network, Mahmoud was able to present his ideas to some scholars and officials who helped him develop and test his idea. On a limited scale, he tried his device in several applications, including helping lifeguards and metro workers.

Mahmoud contacted the National Research Center and the Ministry of Health to help him conduct experiments to ensure the safety of his invention on public health. He was interested in providing a safe alternative to high pressure towers that are believed to be linked to high rates of diseases in certain areas such as cancer. He relied on some scientific studies that supported his hypothesis.

After registering his patent in Egypt, Mahmoud is seeking international patency, especially after his visit to Ethiopia, which was supported by the Ministry of Youth and Sports and UNICEF to present his project among the promising projects of African youth. About this experience, Mahmoud says: “I discussed with an official from the African Union how my project could help poor villages suffering from frequent power cuts, because my device does not need an external source of electricity, but it can autogenerate and transmit it via Wi-Fi."

As his experiment was successful on a limited scale, he dreams of having the needed resources to for testing on a larger scale, so that - as he describes -: “Any citizen walking in the street with a phone, laptop or any other device can get it automatically 100%-charged just by connecting to Wi-Fi."

Mahmoud says: “Whoever wants to do something can achieve it. I spent years asking myself: why all this? I used to spend my weekends in shopping and recycling used items. Now, those who used to make fun of me are the ones trying to communicate with me to know how I did what I did."

Learn more on what UNICEF Egypt does for adolescents' development.