1. Restricted Community Mobility (Best chance to beat COVID-19)
Keeping people at home is noticeably slowing the spread of the virus. The rates of infection in locked-down areas have slowed albeit not as quickly as desired in some places.
To help public health officials better understand the movement of people, Silicon Valley giants Apple and Google have begun releasing reports documenting relative changes in community mobility. These reports use anonymous locational data from their maps services to track daily changes in the movement of users against a baseline value.
Specifically, Google is using the average number of visits to places for each day of the week over a five-week period in January as its baseline. Crucially, visits to these places are aggregated by the type of establishment.
These tags present a key aspect of the dataset as they allow users to identify mobility trends by the category that a place belongs to. The data shows percentage deviations from the baseline in January, back when things were largely normal.
Things are hardly normal now. In almost every society, schools and workplaces are shut, while only essential services are allowed to carry on.
The World Economic Forum reported that nearly 3 billion people—close to half of the world’s population—have come under COVID-19 lockdowns. This number is likely higher now as the outbreak worsens and governments take even more stringent measures.
The dust appears to be settling in Western Europe however which was one of the first few regions outside China to be impacted by the virus.
As Spain and neighbouring countries begin to ease their lockdowns, it is worthwhile to take stock of the effectiveness of their safe distancing measures. A second wave of infections is upon us, as evidenced by ongoing events in Beijing.
In the above visualisation, it is not surprising that visits to grocery shops and pharmacies peaked before lockdowns came into effect, probably due to bouts of panic buying.
Potential uses of this data could include restocking supermarkets in advance to cope with a surge in demand or developing internet infrastructure to cope with higher demand from residential areas.
The right use of actionable data will help policymakers gauge the efficacy of their regulations. It can aid in the enforcement of lockdowns, as well as enable a targeted and phased reopening of the economy.
Both Apple and Google should be commended for their efforts in making anonymised data transparent and available for policymakers to gain valuable insights. We hope to see more such public interest initiatives in the future.
2. Costly Miss Explosion of cases in New York
If the state of New York were a country, it would have more COVID-19 cases (as at Mar 29, 2020) than any country other than the US. Such is the scale of the coronavirus situation in New York. T
he state has become the epicentre of the pandemic in America. Notably, the crisis and the ensuing lockdown caused a tussle between New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and US President Donald Trump.
Trump asserted that he has the ultimate authority to reopen the economy and Cuomo has refuted this claim.
Speaking in a CNN interview, he said, “If he ordered me to reopen in a way that would endanger the public health of the people of my state, I wouldn’t do it.”, referring to Trump.
The governor is looking for a phased reopening which may take months to complete.
The lighter colours in the visualisation above show forecasts that were made in mid-April using data available then. Unfortunately, New York’s recovery has not been as smooth as predicted here. A fresh spike of cases on April 25 has cast uncertainty on its future. This proves the difficulty of predicting the number of cases by fitting a simple model due to the numerous complexities involved in the spread of viruses.
Analysing the timeline of cases, as we go from each day to the next, the number of infections is multiplied by some constant. The spread of viruses is a textbook example of exponential growth because what causes the new cases are the existing ones. This is why we have put the y-axis on a logarithmic scale—each step of a fixed distance corresponds to multiplying by a certain factor. On this scale, exponential growth should look like a straight line. This straight line does not go on forever. It has to start slowing down at some point. The key question is when.
Owing to rigorous social distancing, it looks like New York has passed the peak, and the line of cumulative cases is slowly flattening. Now, governments worldwide are mulling over when to reopen their economy. Too early, and we could see another spike in infections. Too late, and the impact on the economy may be irreparable.
3. No Job – The New Normal
The impact of the pandemic on employment in unmistakable. As with recessions of the past, job losses were expected. What differentiates this downturn from any other is the enormity of these job losses. Instead of a gradual decline in economic activity as seen in business cycle depressions, business operations have ground to a halt, creating shockwaves in the national and global economy.
The current economic situation has been dubbed The Great Lockdown. A shutdown so fast and job losses so many have never been experienced before.
The above visualisation looks at the worst US job losses on record. These are measured over a four-week period. To account for population growth, the number of jobless claims as a percentage of the US population is also shown.
In case the true scale of this crisis not been emphasised enough, the number of job losses is about ten times higher than the average number of job losses in recessions since 1975. The number stands at a staggering 22.03 million, which is almost equal to the populations of middle powers such as Taiwan and Australia.
The recovery of jobs from the last recession was very slow. It took roughly ten years for the US economy to return to an unemployment rate similar to pre-recession levels.
Like other recessions, The Great Recession took many months to culminate. The current crisis is different in that businesses have been suddenly forced to pause operations. One can hope that businesses are able to stay afloat during this shutdown and rehire workers once normalcy resumes.
Besides temporary shocks, the pandemic will result in structural changes in the global economy. In the microeconomic context, it will expedite the adoption of technologies like e-learning and e-commerce.
Telecommuting will be normalised, and more firms will provide the option to work from home. Politically, this pandemic will test the effectiveness of various institutions and it could determine upcoming elections.
4. World Economy at Risk
The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) published an interim economic assessment in March 2020.
Importantly, it has revised its growth projections from November last year. In most countries, the growth adjustment is negative for 2020 but positive for 2021.
Mature economies like the US will take a slight hit in 2020 but will recoup their losses in the following year. Emerging economies on the other hand like India will be badly hit economically.
India has negative GDP revisions in both 2020 and 2021 and, as such, its recovery is likely to be slow. China, being the earliest to recover from the pandemic, will have the greatest jump in growth in 2021 at 0.9 percentage points.
Argentina’s economy was already shrinking and shocks from this pandemic will not do it any good. It is clear from this economic outlook that the timing of economic effects will vary across countries.
The GDP growth forecasts have been adjusted because the world economy is being buffeted by both demand and supply-side shocks.
Authors Philipp Carlsson-Szlezak, Martin Reeves and Paul Swartz (2020) summarised three main shocks in an article for Harvard Business Review (HBR).
The first demand shock is an indirect hit to consumer confidence. Turmoil in financial markets has lowered household wealth.
Macroeconomics fundamentals tell us that this must result in higher household savings and less consumption. Advanced economies are more predisposed to this as their household exposure to the equity asset class is high.
Secondly, there will be a direct hit to consumer confidence. As consumers are forced to isolate themselves, they may reduce their discretionary spending and be less optimistic about the future.
Lastly, a supply-side shock results as the pandemic causes production to cease and disrupts key components of supply chains. This would lead to greater unemployment, but the effects would differ across industries. The crisis may not last long enough for this shock to be significant.
While the above data is useful, the authors of the HBR article warn against becoming too dependent on projections. Instead, leaders should look past the crisis, scanning for opportunities and challenges, and considering how they would address the post-crisis world.
What coronavirus could mean for the global economy. (2020, March 3). Harvard Business Review. Retrieved from https://hbr.org/2020/03/what-coronavirus-could-mean-for-the-global-economy
The ability to undertake in vivo imaging of a living brain in a mammalian animal model is crucial for elucidating how the brain functions. However, the brain consists of tens of billions of neurons, each connected with thousands of others via synapses, the sites of communication between neurons that allows transmission of information.
Thus, to truly understand the dynamics of neuronal synaptic interactions, the capacity for morphological and functional imaging of the brain at high spatial and temporal resolution is required.
Currently, scientists have many ways of imaging the brain, but the available solutions are greatly limited. Electron microscopy can provide high spatial resolution, yet is unsuitable for live imaging of biological tissues. Common non-invasive technologies, such as CT, MRI/ fMRI, PET and ultrasound, have limited synaptic resolution.
While optical microscopy provides subcellular resolution and is non-toxic to biological samples, its imaging depth is limited by optical scattering and aberrations induced by the tissues and the imaging system. Meanwhile, two-photon microscopy is restricted to imaging of the cortex regions only, leaving the subcortical and deep-brain structures unreachable.
Recognising the need for improved imaging capabilities, a group of scientists from the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) focused their sights on achieving brain imaging at synaptic resolution. The endeavour, a collaborative effort between Prof. Qu Jianan, Professor at the Department of Electronic and Computer Engineering, and Prof. Nancy Ip, Vice-President for Research and Development and the Morningside Professor of Life Science, has led to the successful development of a new imaging technology – adaptive optics two-photon endomicroscopy – that enables in vivo imaging of deep brain structures at high resolution. Remarkably, this technology can shed light on brain functions in regions that have never been well explored.
The group subsequently utilised the adaptive optics two-photon endomicroscopy system to investigate neuronal plasticity in the hippocampus, a critical deep brain structure, and revealed the relationship between the somatic and dendritic activity of pyramidal neurons within the hippocampus. The findings of this study were recently published in the prestigious journal Science Advances on 30 September 2020.
Prof. Qu stated that the technology enables imaging of other deep brain structures such as the striatum, the substantia nigra, and the hypothalamus. Thus, it is an exciting development and holds great potential for understanding brain functions and facilitating neuroscience research in the deeper parts of the brain.
In their study, the group sought to image hippocampal neurons using a miniature endoscope called the GRIN lens. However, the resolution of the GRIN lens is low and the imaging field-of-view is limited. Thus, tiny structures such as dendritic spines, the protrusions of neurons that receive information from neighbouring neurons, cannot be seen clearly. This is where adaptive optics technology comes into play.
Originally developed for ground-based astronomical telescopes to compensate for the light distortion of the atmosphere, the adaptive optics technology employs a bright star, or a so-called “guide star”, to measure the light distortion of the atmosphere and then compensates for the distortion by using a deformable mirror.
In developing the adaptive optics two-photon microscopy system, the HKUST group similarly used a localized fluorescence signal as the “guide star” inside biological tissues, which allowed them to measure the aberration of the endoscope as well as the brain tissue.
The ability to conduct live imaging of the deep brain at high resolution has long been a challenge. With adaptive optics two-photon endomicroscopy, the structures and functions of the deep brain can now be studied at an unprecedented resolution, which will greatly accelerate researchers’ progress in understanding the mechanisms of many neurodegenerative diseases and in developing related treatments.
The Vietnam government strongly believes that ensuring safety in cyberspace will accelerate the process of national digital transformation as it is the key to a successful and sustainable digital transformation.
Speaking at the opening ceremony of the ITU Digital World 2020, Minister Nguyen Manh Hung said that Vietnam considers digital platforms as a way to accelerate national digital transformation, considering cybersecurity a key factor to create digital trust and Institutional reform the decisive factor for digital transformation. Vietnam considers digital platforms as a way to accelerate national digital transformation, considering cybersecurity a key factor to create digital trust and institutional reform the decisive factor for digital transformation.
Vietnamese technology not only solves Vietnamese problems but also contributes to solving global problems. The platforms showcased in ITU Digital World 2020 online exhibition and the technological solutions in the prevention of Covid-19, such as Bluezone and Ncovi, are concrete examples. According to Minister Nguyen Manh Hung, digital infrastructure with “Make in Vietnam” digital products and platforms are ready for the digital economy and society, ready for a digital Vietnam.
Vietnam has conditions to become a technology country, to use technology as a driving force for national development, to go at the same pace as other countries, for global cooperation and together build a digital world. The government considers telecommunications and IT infrastructure development one of the top priorities, and digital transformation an important solution for the country’s fast and sustainable development.
However, spam messages, e-mails and calls have been a burning issue for years in Vietnam. The issues of how to prevent spam have and are a topic of discussion at many National Assembly’s sessions.
After one year of compilation with many amendments, Decree 91 was issued by the government on August 14. The latest decree has many positive developments as compared to decrees 90 and 77 addressing the same issue. Legislators and experts are confident that the decree will have a significant impact on reducing spam in the Vietnamese digital landscape.
The strong measures were designed after learnings from the experience of developed countries were applied to strategies. Case in hand: since Australia started a DoNotCall list, 50% of subscribers have registered not to receive ad messages.
Decree 91 gives new definitions about spam messages and emails and adds a new concept about a ‘spam call’, which helps set the criteria for recognizing spam messages, calls and emails. The new decree mentions new measures for users to protect themselves from spam, including DoNotCall, the list of subscribers refusing advertising messages.
As the compiler of Decree 91 on fighting spam SMS, calls and messages, an official with the Authority for Information Security, Dang Huy Hoang, said he was happy that he could contribute to reducing ‘garbage’ in digital space, “All my enthusiasm and 8-year experience in fighting against spam are shown in the content of the decree.”
Hoang began working on the anti-spam segment in late 2012 and early 2013 when he had the chance to work with an expert at VNCERT. Since then, he has been fighting against spam. Hoang said over the last 10 years of working at the Ministry of Information and Communication, his colleague and he have been working determinedly to resolve the issues at hand. In addition to compiling Decree 91, he was also one of the compilers of circulars and other legal documents and set the criteria applied to technological solutions that recognize and authenticate genuine subscribers using artificial intelligence for prevention of spam messages.
Decree 91 also stipulates that mobile network operators have to improve techniques to prevent and filter spam, using modern technologies such as AI, Big Data, Machine Learning and behaviour analysis technology. The decree also sets new sanction methods to deter violators and protect users.
Soon after the decree was issued, Hoang and his colleagues put in place a plan to bring the decree to fruition. The new management mechanism is hoped to help mitigate spam and promote the legal advertising market and create a more secure digital ecosystem for the nation.
Recently OpenGov Asia reported don the sharp decrease in virus-infected computer networks in Vietnam. The initiative is a large-scale campaign aiming to ensure the safety and benefits of communities, businesses, individuals and families that use internet-connected devices that are networked in a cyber environment.
The Singapore Government has announced that they will combine the power of TraceTogether and SafeEntry, two technologies dveloped by the government to help prevent or slow the transmission of COVID-19 in Singapore
In order to resume larger-scale activities and further reopen the economy in a safer manner, TraceTogether-only SafeEntry, known as TT-only SE, will be progressively expanded to more venues.
The use of TT-only SE will provide added assurance that everyone present at these largerscale activities is better protected by effective contact tracing through participation in the TraceTogether Programme.
“TT-only SE ensures that if a COVID-19 case is identified, we can quickly inform close contacts in those locations through the TT Programme. The close contacts can immediately take the necessary precautions to keep their loved ones safe.”
By end of this year, we plan for all popular venues that currently require SE to transit to TT-only SE. The current scanning on-site QR codes with a phone camera, using SingPass Mobile for SE check-in, and scanning of personal IDs, will be disabled at venues where TT-only SE is implemented.
Instead, SE is allowed only if one uses their TT App to scan the on-site QR code, or if they let the on-site entry staff scan the QR code on their TT Token.
Staged Rollout of TT-only-SE
Since August 2020, TT-only SE has been trialled at selected venues where people are likely to be in close contact for prolonged periods, or where human traffic is high, to ensure that individuals at these venues are covered by the TT Programme.
From now till mid-November, TT-only SE will be implemented in venues with activities that involve larger groups of people. These include live performances, business events, places of worship conducting congregational and other worship services with more than 100 people and cinemas. Members of the public who intend to attend these activities are encouraged to download the TT App or collect their TT Token as soon as possible.
By December, TT Tokens would already have been widely available for a substantial period of time. TT-only SE will be implemented at all popular venues where SE is currently mandatory. This would include workplaces, schools, shopping malls and F&B outlets. The latest list of venues which will transit to TT-only SE will be updated on an ongoing basis at www.safeentry.gov.sg/deployment.
TraceTogether Programme Crucial for Effective Contact Tracing
TT and SE are critical digital tools that allow us to quickly contain the spread of COVID19 the moment it is detected, so that we can safely ease our measures and continue to resume economic and social activities.
These tools help to stem multiple generations of spread and prevent large clusters from forming. We seek everyone’s cooperation in using SE and participating in the TT Programme, to make Singapore safer from COVID-19.
In collaboration with
The TraceTogether App was launched in March by the Ministry of Health (MOH) and GovTech, as part of the world’s first national digital contact tracing effort.
Since then, it has been used extensively by the MOH and the product team has been busy improving its effectiveness and building enhancements, without compromising on security. We took a look behind the scenes to learn more about the testing process:
The first thing we realised? They use a lot of phones. Like a lot.
How many smartphone models can you name? Our guess is not a lot, especially beyond the flagship models of Apple, Samsung, Huawei, and Google, am i right?
In reality though, the phone population in Singapore isn’t just made up of more prominent models (the iPhones, the Galaxies, the Pixels), but also less glamorous models – say, like the humble Oppo A5.
Why does this matter? Because for TraceTogether to work effectively, the team has to make sure that ALL devices can be detected by each other – not just the popular ones. To help with this, the team maintains a ‘device farm’ – a collection of over 100 different devices representing the majority of the devices used in Singapore by market share.
The new TraceTogether tokens also go through the same stringent testing
In case you’re wondering whether or not there will be compatibility issues between smartphones and the newly introduced Tokens, the team has also been working hard to ensure that this communication is smooth.
TraceTogether Tokens, also based on BlueTooth proximity tracing, are tested alongside the App to ensure interoperability. This is done by calibrating distances to account for close contact range.
As the team conducts more trials and in turn collects more data, they are able to make more refined estimates that help improve the accuracy of digital contact tracing when used by MOH.
Indeed, in the eyes of Team TraceTogether, there’s no Apple vs Android, Token vs App – all devices are the same.
The GovTech office doubles as a makeshift testing ground
When the team needs a conducive environment to simulate real-world conditions, it’s fortunate that they have the GovTech office at Sandcrawler! This space has a wide variety of different office layouts and is divided into different zones, each simulating different types of areas that TraceTogether needs to operate in.
The GovTech office as a testing ground
For example, one zone with wide-open spaces can simulate, say, a void deck or a mall’s atrium, while a more intimate space can simulate tight spaces, such as public transport.
Both phones and tokens are then placed randomly in each zone. The goal here is simple:
1) Devices in the same zone must be able to detect and classify other devices in close proximity via TraceTogether
2) TraceTogether should not deem other devices in different zones as being in close proximity.
This process is repeated again and again, with varying combinations of phones and tokens in each zone, until the team is satisfied. Intense!
The testing never stops:
“One of the mistaken impressions that people have is that TraceTogether is a static programme. It’s not. It was developed in a very compressed period of time. And we’ve been working hard with MOH contact tracers to support their workflow and processes, while also constantly making the app more convenient for citizens,” explained Jason Bay, Senior Director, Government Digital Services.
“We also urge users to continue using SafeEntry and TraceTogether, which are complementary products – and not substitutes. One focuses on the locations you have been to, and helps jog your memory if you are asked to help in contact tracing; the other looks at person-to-person interactions.”
So to keep safe, remember to update your app to the latest version, and keep it open in the background whenever you head out!
The modular desktop technology can be used to distinguish black carbon particles from two primary sources: diesel vehicles and biomass burning, such as bushfires or crop burning regimes. Thomson Environmental Systems in Caringbah NSW, co-located in the Sutherland Shire with ANSTO, has been licensed to sell MABI.
Distinguished Research Scientist Prof David Cohen, who was instrumental in the development and testing of the device, said it was an important tool which can provide environmental managers and researchers with new information about pollution.
As part of the extensive validation and testing, the device was distributed to 43 countries around the world and performed well. He notes that it started as a research instrument, it is time to push it out there to the commercial world. The technology complements the extensive range of instruments being sold for measuring air pollution in the atmosphere.
The Director of Innovation and Commercialisation at ANSTO stated that the solution is a great example of how decades of experience in monitoring pollution led to the development of the innovative technology with environmental and health benefits, as well as commercial opportunities for a local science-based business.
In July 2019, it was reported that ANSTO scientists, who are experts in the monitoring of fine particle pollution, developed a research instrument to measure the concentration of black carbon in the atmosphere and determine its source.
Black carbon is a key component of fine particle air pollution; its quantification will produce a better understanding of the role it plays in climate change.
Typical aerosol filter samples used for fine particle pollution monitoring can be loaded in the instrument for measurements. Because the instrument can measure light absorption at seven different wavelengths, it can distinguish different black carbon particle sizes and types.
MABI, which is powered from a simple USB cable has inbuilt software to record and export transmission data which can be converted to black carbon concentrations through standard equations. The equations are provided and the users can measure their black carbon mass absorption coefficients for each wavelength and for their particular region and sampling site. This ensures that the calculation is specific to their sampling site and a more accurate estimate of the black carbon content in their air.
The instrument works by inserting a filter paper into a beam of light. This light goes through the filter and into a detector. Measurement is taken for an unexposed filter and then an exposed filter. By taking the log of the unexposed reading subtracted from exposed reading, you can calculate the amount of black carbon on the filter.
The light from seven LEDs in the unit extends to wavelengths from 405 nanometres to 1050 nanometres. And the process is fast, taking less than 35 seconds to complete the seven-wavelength measurement.
The idea for the instrument came from ANSTO’s fine particle pollution sampling program. The team used to measure black carbon at one wavelength and use a single mass absorption co-efficient to cover all particle sizes. This assumed that every particle was the same size and density.
Facilities which purchase the instrument are asked to provide their data back to ANSTO to be added to the global database the researchers maintain on fine particle pollution. Ideally, the instrument could be used by all the environmental protection agencies and environmental monitoring facilities sampling air pollution using filters, Cohen noted.
Critical event management has come to the fore with the pandemic. Forecasting, planning and management of critical events help organisations and authorities prevent disruption of life and damage to property.
Governments rely on several, specific systems for critical event management. Such programmes are essential to national well-being especially with the increase in natural disasters. But, more often than not, they operate in isolation of each other. According to world experts in Critical Event Management – Everbridge, this siloed approach can create duplication in information and processes, data contradictions and, when unchecked, could lead to loss of life and damages.
Everbridge’s Coronavirus Preparedness and solutions can make a significant difference in mitigating harm caused by the pandemic. They provide richer intelligence and correlating threats with locations of assets and people ensuring more rapid and comprehensive incident assessment and remediation.
With the pandemic forecast to be around for some time, planning responses to adverse events must continue alongside COVID-19 management. In light of this, it is expedient for governments to re-look at their systems, tools, processes and platforms they have in place to manage critical events.
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The Assurance, Care and Engagement (ACE) Group, in partnership with the Smart Nation and Digital Government Group, the Building and Construction Authority, the Economic Development Board and industry partners such as The Singapore Contractors Association, will be distributing more than 450,000 contact-tracing devices to all migrant and local workers living or working in dormitories, as well as those in the Construction, Marine Shipyard and Process sectors.
The distribution of the devices will be carried out in phases from 18 October 2020 and is expected to be completed by early November 2020.
Contract Tracing Devices purpose built for worksite environments
The contact-tracing devices, BluePass tokens, are purpose-built for the dormitory and worksite environment. They are compact and water-resistant, and can be worn at all times.
They will be interoperable with and complement the use of the TraceTogether app on migrant workers’ smartphones, as some workers may not always be carrying their phones at work and at the dormitories.
The ACE Group and sector agencies will trial and evaluate how these tokens function and perform in the rugged work environments, and how the data from the tokens can help improve contact tracing and the quarantine process when new COVID-19 cases are detected.
Tokens will help minimise COVID-19 transmission and work disruptions
This will benefit employers and workers because only close contacts will be isolated, thereby minimising any work disruptions.
Data can also be extracted from the tokens, to assess the extent of intermixing amongst the workers. This can help employers and workers better understand how preventive measures can be taken to minimise intermixing and potential transmission of the virus.
The contact-tracing devices will be distributed with the support of the Forward Assurance and Support Teams to migrant workers living in purpose-built dormitories.
Workers living in other types of accommodation will be issued their devices at Regional Screening Centres for Rostered Routine Tests.
Self-collection points will be set up for workers residing in decant sites and other forms of accommodation. Employers and workers will be informed of the collection dates subsequently.
Photo Credit: www.gov.sg
A graduate from Australia’s Griffith University combined his games design degree with his experience living with profound deafness to create an app set to improve the lives of those with hearing aids.
While studying a Bachelor of Games Design at Griffith, the scholar, Elliot Miller, became interested in interactive design and developed his own ‘serious game’ in the form of an app named Hearoes, which assists cochlear implant and hearing aid recipients learn new sounds in an engaging, self-paced environment.
So-called ‘serious games’ are considered games beyond entertainment and in Elliot’s case, one that can create learning experience outcomes.
“Receiving a bionic ear, also known as a cochlear implant, although an incredible milestone, is like trying to drive a sports car when you don’t have a licence or have never driven a car before,” he said. “I ended up using the learnings from the Griffith University course to create some gamified auditory training exercises to help myself with earning to identify new sounds, which I personally found challenging.”
From there, he ended up showing it to his clinician and releasing it on the app store to help others with their new hearing journey.
Miller was born with sensorineural hearing loss – with mild to severe hearing loss in his right ear, and profound hearing loss in the left side- and was fitted with hearing aids as a child, before receiving a cochlear implant at 25. He noted that it has been a very life-changing experience, especially being able to hear the higher pitches in sounds that I’ve never heard before.
“I’ll always remember the time I was jogging down the street shortly after receiving my bionic ear, and I noticed a sound that I couldn’t identify. I stopped to try and identify this new sound, but the sound stopped as well, and it wasn’t until I got home later that day, I realised it was the coins in my pocket.”
According to Hearing Care Industry Association in 2020, an estimated 3.95 million Australians have hearing loss.
Almost everything around us makes a sound, from the wind howling, to the car indicators, to even leaving the fridge door open for long periods of time and they are not things that you think about, especially if there aren’t any visual references or other feedback associated with it, the engineer stated.
It became a big learning curve for him because although he could hear new sounds, it was very challenging being able to identify them. Hearoes aims to help others on their hearing journey, he noted.
Hearoes is Australia’s first auditory training tool of its kind and has had more than 25,000 sessions, with the activities played more than 80,000 times in the last 12 months alone.
It is described as a user-centric auditory training app and contains more than 50 gamified activities focusing on key and proven modules in auditory training such as environmental sounds, vowels, consonants, sentences and narratives in different accents including Australian and American male and female voices.
The team has some amazing feedback and stories, not only from the recipients but also others involved in the training process, including clinicians, teachers and even parents.
“It’s very motivating being able to help others who are experiencing similar challenges, especially as I’ve faced similar daily challenges myself,” he said.
Hearoes was recently recognised with an Early Innovation Award at the recent Bionics Queensland Challenge and has collaborated with different organisations such as eHealth Queensland, Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital, as well as Deaf Services.