Season 11 Innovators

Profile of

Othman Abu Laban

Product
Adaptive Car Headrest
Country
Jordan

About

 

Othman grew up a petrol head, admiring his favourite cars and racing them in video games throughout his early childhood. In another life, he felt he could very well have worked in a garage, spending all his time with the machines he loves! However, the Jordanian struggled to find a passion for automotive engineering. Instead, the science behind the materials and the physics that underpin our understanding of these machines interested him much more.

 

He decided to pursue both a Bachelor of Science and a Master’s in Mechanical Engineering from Qatar University (QU), where he could admire those machines from a distance while deepening his knowledge of the science that drives them. His Master’s thesis even included an exciting technology designed for use with any car, a labour of love born out of a life-long passion for automobiles.

 

Othman had the chance to present his idea to Stars of Science back in 2017. However, he stopped himself from doing so, as the over-thinker in him took over. “I always contemplate the worst thing that could happen. I tend to ruminate about all the possible situations, that’s why it took me three years to apply!” In the end, his wife, a fellow mechanical engineer, and his friends relentlessly pushed him to apply, believing in Othman’s idea and his character. 

About the Project 

Othman lost two good friends in a car accident, an example of how car safety standards and culture in the Arab world require drastic improvement. 

 

As part of his Master’s thesis, Othman studied whiplash injuries - neck injuries caused by unrestrained, rapid back-and-forth movement of the head and neck, most commonly from rear-end car accidents - in great detail. He continuously ran models and simulations with different parameters to better understand how the injury occurred in a variety of scenarios. The innovator determined that a majority of whiplash injuries happened in car accidents, where passengers were not properly protected by the designated safety systems.

 

To improve the situation, Othman created the Adaptive Car Headrest. This common car seat headrest is retrofitted so it automatically adjusts its position to provide a safety positioning buffer for drivers’ and passengers’ heads, lowering possible whiplash injury in the event of an accident. The key to the animated headrest’s design is its simplicity, a source of pride for the engineer. According to Othman, users can replace the static headrest with the dynamic headrest in almost any car available on the market within minutes, providing an easily accessible method of improving head safety protection. 

 

Impact

There is always room for improvement with global road safety, especially as many countries in the Arab region are addressing additional road safety requirements. Othman hopes that his technology-enabled solution can help spur others to take action and support saving lives.

 

He would also like to impact safety culture among car manufacturers and consumers in the MENA region. “In our part of the world, we need to recognise the importance of car safety. We need people of our region to get involved in this field,” Othman said.