The inventor in his workshop in Diwaniya. (photo: منار الزبيدي )
He never finished high school but Diwaniyah local, Qassim Hussein Ali al-Hilali, has put his skills at electrical engineering to good use. He has invented a way to remotely control heavy farm equipment, like water pumps, at a distance, using an application on a smart phone.
Al-Hilali, 40, has been fooling around with electrical appliances ever since he was a child. He tours the city’s markets collecting old electrical equipment and other associated trash and then takes it home to realize his ideas. He’s made his own electric cranes and other models as well as simple games, and is working on a homemade remote control for opening car doors.
It is inexpensive in terms of both effort and money. I can operate it myself, just lying in bed.
But it is his latest invention, the remote control for farm equipment, that may have changed his life the most.
Users download a simple app onto their Android -operating-system smart phones and sign in using their own phone number or email address. This provides security for the app so that nobody else can start, for example, operating private machinery.
The new remote control is especially helpful when it comes to water management. “One person can do the job of seven,” al-Hilali boasts. It means that farmers, who often have to travel long distances to operate their water pumps when the power is on, can simply turn the equipment on with their phones.
It helps conserve electricity and ensures that equipment is turned on while the power is running – Iraq still regularly suffers from outages, especially in rural areas.
And there are other reasons to use a remote like this. “High humidity and bad wiring has caused a lot of electric shocks,” Hussein Ali, a farmer in the Saniyah sub district of Diwaniya, explains. “Last year, I lost my nephew when he started a water pump and got an electric shock.”
Most farmers here do have smart phones, Ali told NIQASH, so they’re eager to give al-Hilali’s invention a try.
“It is inexpensive in terms of both effort and money. And I don’t need to worry about my family or be near the water pump myself. I can operate it myself, just lying in bed,” he says.
The head of the inventors’ forum in Diwaniya, Rami Hassan al-Janabi, says he thinks al-Hilali should patent his invention. The same kinds of things do exist elsewhere but there could be subtle differences. And most importantly, it would allow al-Hilali to potentially sell the invention to the government and raise awareness of the remote control.
Al-Janabi adds that he would like to see more appreciation for the inventors of Diwaniya.
As for al-Hilali, he is already planning his next remote control: He’d like to move into the area of smart homes, where houses are kept secure by a mobile device.