Iraqi Expat Wins British Invention Award: An Inspiring Story
If you like stories of personal struggle that end well, you will like this one. It's about an Iraqi citizen who fled Iraq with his family to avoid the death squads of Saddam Hussein, worked day and night to support himself through the University of Derby in the East Midlands of England, invented a device now employed by the British military, and was just awarded the Special Commendation Award at the 2008 Lord Stafford Awards East Midlands for developing the device.
The device is a portable translator worn on the wrist. It's called the AHKY, which is Arabic for "speak, and its inventor, 23 year-old Amin Ismail, created the wrist-watch translator to assist military, border personnel, and other officials to communicate instructions to Iraqi citizens in high risk situations, when a human translater is not available. A human translator is rarely accessible during searches, stops, or other dangerous missions. The AHKY uses voice recognition software and is programmed with translations like "Don't shoot!" "Please stop" "We will not hurt you."
Amin Ismail created the prototype as part of his course work at University of Derby, where he recently graduated with a degree in design. After interviewing British soldiers to insure the most important phrases would be included in AHKY, Mr. Ismail and his university instructors introduced his design to Civil Defence Supply Ltd (CDS) a multi-million pound company that supplies operational equipment to the British military, police, NATO, United Nations, and the US Defence Department. CDS decided to collaborate with Mr. Ismail and the University on the production of AHKY, and the invention is now in use!
Wait! That's not the end of the story. As if any inventor wouldn't love to have his or her invention being used to save lives in war zones and other dangerous situations, Mr. Ismail was hired by CDS, the company known informally as the 'Q" division of James Bond films.
And, if a job with a world supplier of defence technology wasn't enough, Mr. Ismail received a Special Commendation Award for his invention, during the 50th annual presentation of the Lord Stafford Awards, presented by Lord Digby Jones, British Minister for Trade and Investment. The Special Commendation was presented on September 11, 2008, as Mr. Ismail's family watched proudly from the audience. Ismail was gracious in his acceptance of the award. He said:
“This project has been a small way for me to thank the British soldiers for their honourable work to bring freedom to the Iraqi people. The soldiers working here do so in high risk situations where the slightest misunderstanding might lead to tragedy. If this device can help save innocent lives in a conflict situation I will be so proud.”
Mr Ismail, you have made many, many people proud of you already!