In a first for the Territory, drones will be used to deliver health care into remote communities across the NT. The drones will expedite the delivery of time-critical medical items into hard to reach and seasonally inaccessible remote communities, helping save lives and reducing costs of delivery.
The Territory Labor Government is partnering with Charles Darwin University and iMOVE Australia to commission the drones. iMOVE is the national centre for collaborative research and development in transport and mobility. It facilitates, supports and co-funds research projects that improve the way people and goods move in Australia.
The project will initially investigate the logistical challenges of using drone technology to deliver health services in the Territory, including:
- Procuring airframes that can manage the vast Australian distances, which are far greater than currently flown for health care carriage
- Adapting technology to withstand the Territory’s hot, humid and monsoonal climate
- Planning works with the Civil Aviation and Safety Authority to identify and regulate flight paths within current airspace requirements
- Integrating drones into the current health transport infrastructure network
- The expansion of drone technology in the Territory also paves the way for new local jobs and economic growth, with the global drone market to reach an estimated $43 billion by 2024.
The region’s Minister for Health stated that the use of drones will be a game-changer when it comes to enhancing our healthcare system.
“It doesn’t matter whether you live in the city or in the bush – Territorians deserve to have access to the very best health services, and this new technology will be a driving force in this space. The Territory is on the front-foot to being a national leader in the development of drone technology for the carriage of health care. We also know this technology will open the door to new jobs and opportunities, as well as keeping Territorians in remote areas healthy and safe,” she said.
The Charles Darwin University Interim Vice-Chancellor and President noted that the team at CDU will investigate the potential in using automated aircraft for the delivery of time-critical medical items to remote communities across the Northern Territory.
Drones are already being used in healthcare in developing countries, however, the team needs to undertake research to understand where they can reduce costs and improve health care outcomes for remote communities in the Northern Territory.
“This partnership is the first of its kind and will be a testing ground for the application of autonomous systems into health care delivery across Australia,” he said.
According to another article, the iMove programs director believes the project could pave the way for the delivery of essential healthcare services, such as cold-storage COVID-19 vaccines, to remote communities, Eventually, iMove would like to see a drone health delivery system be rolled out to other regional locations across Australia.
Currently, roughly eight million people are living in rural and remote parts of the country – this is around a third of the population living in places where getting life-saving medical supplies is not only a race against time, but also a battle against the tyranny of distance, harsh landscapes, and unpredictable elements, the programs director said.
“Regional communities face medical access and health supply issues. This doesn’t have to be the case. We have the technology to put an end to this deprivation, especially in remote Northern Territory First Nations communities,” she added.
Australia’s national science agency, CSIRO, recently revealed details of an AU$15 million project to develop a national soil information system, aimed at improving the sustainable management of one of the nation’s most precious assets.
Supporting the National Soil Strategy, and funded by the Australian Government’s Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, the Australian National Soil Information System (ANSIS) project is a collaboration between the government, research organisations, industry, the private sector and the community.
Using innovative processes and technologies, ANSIS will allow improved sharing of nationally consistent soil data and information through online access for users. This will help Australians to better understand their nation’s diverse range of soils and make better decisions about managing our important soil resources. Currently, soil data is collected using different methods, by different organisations, and at a range of depths in the soil. This makes it hard to access, compare and use data from diverse sources.
The Project Lead at CSIRO stated that improving access to the best soil data and information can help promote digital agriculture innovation and is key to sustainably managing Australia’s soils. By using ANSIS, farmers and agricultural advisors will have access to more soil data and be better placed to more sustainably manage the soil on which they rely.
Soil is vital to agricultural production and natural environments, as well as health and well-being. This information system will help everyone care for this important natural resource. Productive, healthy, and resilient soil means more economic, environmental, and social benefits to Australia. Monitoring soil also helps scientific understanding of how the natural world is changing.
This work will provide insight into biodiversity, water resources, landscapes and coastlines, fauna, climate, and geology. By harmonising Australia’s soil data, we can make it accessible across many fields of science and exploration. The project is being delivered under the Federal Government’s National Soil Strategy, which is about prioritising soil health, empowering soil innovation and stewards, and strengthening soil knowledge and capability. The new ANSIS system will be available for use in 2023.
ANSIS will provide improved access to nationally consistent soil data and information needed to help sustainably manage Australian soil. ANSIS will provide:
- More soil data
- More data sets are available that in other soil systems
- Enables more certainty in products developed
- Opportunity to develop new products
- Improved access
- Multiple data sets are now discoverable and accessible
- National coverage
- Most up-to-date data available
- Efficient provision
- Organised and standardised data for immediate use
- Can feed into many users’ requirements
- Consistent delivery
- Substantial reduction in time to prepare information products
- Trusted location
- Certainty that data is from an authoritative source, verified and satisfies standards.
The Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation (HKSTP) affirmed its strategic co-incubation partnership with a Canada-focused venture capital firm to identify promising international start-ups seeking to expand their innovation journey to Hong Kong, into the GBA and beyond.
With a proven track record in life science start-ups, the VC firm will work with HKSTP to build an inbound stream of early and mid-stage ventures. The co-incubation programme aims to bring several strong-performing ventures to Hong Kong with a focus on biotech, but also on other deep-tech areas such as ESG, advanced materials, edutech and AI.
To date, as Hong Kong’s largest technological ecosystem, HKSTP has helped accelerate growth for hundreds of outstanding start-ups, raising over HK$80.2 billion in total funding in the past five years. During the 2021-2022 fiscal year, the total valuation of HKSTP’s acceleration programme start-ups grew over 250% while total investment funds raised have also doubled.
The partnership with the VC firm is the most recent of HKSTP’s series of strategic co-incubation programmes with global market leaders in the industry, investment, R&D and academia, which further elevate Hong Kong’s innovation and technology (I&T) ecosystem strength as a global springboard to success.
Riding on Hong Kong’s thriving biotech market and the city’s status as the world’s second-largest biotech fundraising hub, the co-incubation partnership also recognises HKSTP’s impact and success in building a vibrant biotech ecosystem in Hong Kong.
The Head of Incubation and Acceleration Programmes at HKSTP stated that the co-incubation partnership with an international player like the partnering firm validates Hong Kong’s unique and growing status as a global I&T hub helping international start-ups go beyond borders in their global growth journey.
She noted that with a pipeline of seed stage and series A start-up’s already in place, this proves the strength of the HKSTP innovation ecosystem and confirms that Hong Kong is open again for global business and an ideal launchpad for high-growth tech ventures seeking GBA, regional and global expansion.
The Managing Partner of the VC firm stated that the signing of this co-incubation agreement will allow the two parties to incubate and introduce promising global start-ups to scale their businesses in Asia. The firm will continue to leverage its unique cross-pacific networks and investment niches in transformative life science technologies to enrich Hong Kong’s innovation ecosystem with more ground-breaking technologies from North American start-ups.
The programme features co-incubation activities ranging from business development, consulting and training to mentoring sessions for qualified overseas start-ups. Participating entrepreneurs will also create proofs-of-concept and pilot initiatives.
The start-ups will tap into the investment and international business network reach of the firm while also formally joining the HKSTP innovation ecosystem to access product validation, commercialisation and go-to-market expertise from HKSTP and its wider network of partners.
Specialising in investing globally in science and technology-based start-ups, the VC firm has been active in Hong Kong and Asia with its specific focus on nurturing start-ups that aspire to expand to China and Asia. In 2019 it facilitated eight Canadian start-ups from prestigious start-up programmes to come to Hong Kong to gain deeper insights into strategic landing tactics and expansion into the Asian markets. This latest partnership with HKSTP has forged a new level of commitment to the Hong Kong I&T ecosystem.
An international team led by The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK)’s Faculty of Medicine (CU Medicine) has successfully developed the world’s first artificial intelligence (AI) model that can detect Alzheimer’s disease solely through fundus photographs or images of the retina. The model is more than 80% accurate after validation.
Fundus photography is widely accessible, non-invasive and cost-effective. This means that the AI model incorporated with fundus photography is expected to become an important tool for screening people at high risk of Alzheimer’s disease in the community. Details have been published in The Lancet Digital Health under the international journal The Lancet.
Limitations of Alzheimer’s disease current detection methods
In Hong Kong, 1 in 10 people aged 70 or above suffers from dementia, with more than half of those cases attributed to Alzheimer’s disease. This disease is associated with an excessive accumulation of abnormal amyloid plaque and neurofibrillary tangles in the brain, leading to the death of brain cells and resulting in progressive cognitive decline.
The Clinical Professional Consultant of the Division of Neurology in CU Medicine’s Department of Medicine and Therapeutics stated that memory complaints are common among middle-aged and elderly people, and are often considered a sign of Alzheimer’s disease.
It is sometimes difficult to make an accurate diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease based on cognitive tests and structural brain imaging. However, methods to detect Alzheimer’s pathology, such as an amyloid-PET scan or testing of cerebrospinal fluid collected via lumber puncture, are invasive and less accessible.
To address the current clinical gap, CU Medicine has led several medical centres and institutions from Singapore, the United Kingdom and the United States to successfully develop an AI model using state-of-the-art technologies which can detect Alzheimer’s disease using fundus photographs alone.
Studying disorders of the central nervous system via the retina
The S.H. Ho Professor of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences and Chairman of CU Medicine’s Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences explained that the retina is an extension of the brain in terms of embryology, anatomy and physiology. In the entire central nervous system, only the blood vessels and nerves in the retina allow direct visualisation and analysis.
Thus, it is widely considered a window through which disorders in the central nervous system can be studied. Through non-invasive fundus photography, a range of changes in the blood vessels and nerves of the retina that are associated with Alzheimer’s disease can be detected.
The team developed and validated their AI model using nearly 13,000 fundus photographs from 648 Alzheimer’s disease patients (including patients from the Prince of Wales Hospital) and 3,240 cognitively normal subjects. Upon validation, the model showed 84% accuracy, 93% sensitivity and 82% specificity in detecting Alzheimer’s disease. In the multi-ethnic, multi-country datasets, the AI model achieved accuracies ranging from 80% to 92%.
Accessibility, non-invasiveness and high cost-effectiveness of the AI model using fundus photography help the detection of Alzheimer’s cases both in the clinic and the community
A Professor of Medicine and Director of the Therese Pei Fong Chow Research Centre for Prevention of Dementia at CU Medicine stated that in addition to its accessibility and non-invasiveness, the accuracy of the new AI model is comparable to imaging tests such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
It shows the potential to become not only a diagnostic test in clinics but also a screening tool for Alzheimer’s disease in community settings. Looking ahead, the team aims to validate its efficacy in identifying high-risk cases of the disease hidden in the community, so that various preventive treatments such as anti-amyloid drugs can be initiated early to slow down cognitive decline and brain damage.
The Associate Professor in the Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences at CU Medicine said that in addition to applying novel AI technologies in the model, the team also tested it in different scenarios. Notably, their AI model retained a robust ability to differentiate between subjects with and without Alzheimer’s disease, even in the presence of concomitant eye diseases like macular degeneration and glaucoma which are common in city-dwellers and the older population.
Their results further support the hypothesis that the team’s AI analysis of fundus photographs is an excellent tool for the detection of memory-depriving Alzheimer’s disease. To move this research towards clinical application, the team is developing an integrated, AI-based platform to combine information from both blood vessels and nerves of the retina captured by fundus photography and optical coherence tomography for the detection of Alzheimer’s disease. Their findings should provide more evidence to move AI from code to the real world.
Thailand’s Electronic Transactions Development Agency (ETDA) has recently launched the AI Governance Clinic (AIGC) which will serve as a source of Thai and overseas knowledge and expertise on governance related to artificial intelligence (AI) and its adoption.
ETDA is joining forces with the nation’s National Electronics and Computer Technology Centre (NECTEC), the Ministry of Public Health’s Department of Medical Services, and the Department of Health Service Support. A memorandum of understanding (MoU) between ETDA and the three partners was signed during the nation’s “Building Trust and Partnership in AI Governance” event.
AI is currently having a significant impact on almost every aspect of people’s lives, including work, business, education, finance, health, and electronic transactions, according to ETDA Executive Director Dr Chaichana Mitrpant. “These issues all involve the application of AI.”
A six-year national AI implementation plan for national development between 2022 and 2027 was recently approved by the Cabinet. The adoption of AI with governance along with pertinent laws and regulations is one strategy outlined in the plan for ensuring that users understand social responsibility.
Thailand is getting ready to adopt AI, another cutting-edge technology that is gaining popularity and relevance. ETDA is an organisation that supports a secure and reliable ecosystem for electronic transactions.
To achieve the objectives outlined in the implementation plan, the agency is collaborating with NECTEC. A study on Thailand’s AI standard landscape to develop AI adoption measures and a study on measures to assess AI-based computer programmes to increase the capacity of Thai entrepreneurs in all industries in accordance with international standards are among their important joint projects.
To create a framework for AI governance regarding electronic transactions that are in line with Thailand’s context and international standards, ETDA and its partners – both in Thailand and abroad – established the Clinic.
The Clinic is collaborating with the Academy of Digital Transformation by ETDA to provide resources for capacity development at all levels. Additionally, the AIGC has a substantial library of knowledge sources on pertinent topics, as well as experts from numerous nations who are prepared to provide guidance on AI policies and governance.
An additional Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed by ETDA and its partners NECTEC, the Department of Medical Services, and the Department of Health Service Support for the joint development of an AI governance framework that is appropriate for the Thai context for the country’s healthcare industry.
The collaboration aims to advance the sharing of innovation and AI technology knowledge among the participating agencies and to inform pertinent agencies about AI governance. Thailand’s AI strategy was inspired by a desire to boost the nation’s economy and the quality of life for its people as well as a competitive spirit.
Thailand strives to develop the human capacity and skills required for an AI ecosystem despite the difficulties it faces in developing AI capabilities. They created a formal network and consortium as a result. Thailand will train future AI professionals through structured academic programmes in Thai universities, in addition to bridging the gap between existing academic and industrial experts.
ETDA is the primary agency responsible for developing, promoting, and supporting electronic transactions and it is part of the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology. Its primary responsibility is to research, study, and support the operation of the Electronic Transaction Committee and other related agencies, hence, it contributes to the development and promotion of Thailand’s electronic transactions.
Researchers at the University of South Australia are trialling a simple finger prick technology that could soon be all it takes to save the lives of pregnant mothers and their babies who are at risk of a dangerous pregnancy complication known as preeclampsia.
Preeclampsia affects four per cent of all pregnancies in Australia and can cause organ failure, blood clotting, restricted foetal growth and be life-threatening for the mum and baby. However, current diagnosis methods are complex and can take up to 24 hours in rural areas – time that is critical when dealing with the health of an unborn baby.
In a move which could revolutionise the diagnosis and care of the condition, scientists from UniSA’s Future Industries Institute have developed new technology which requires only a few drops of blood to test for preeclampsia – and the result returned within 30 minutes. This means the test can be done quickly and accurately in a rural setting by a primary healthcare team, without the need to send it to an advanced laboratory.
The Hospital Research Foundation Group is now funding the testing stage of their device, in the hope that earlier and more accurate diagnosis can improve prenatal care and save lives.
Chief investigators Dr Duy Phu Tran and Professor Benjamin Thierry said the device would be most critical in regional settings where emergency care is limited, with preeclampsia one of the main reasons for emergency retrievals by the Royal Flying Doctors Service.
The technology is designed to enable rapid and accurate point-of-care testing for preeclampsia biomarkers, allowing for quicker interventions and likely improved pregnancy outcomes for women living in rural Australia.
The current tests for preeclampsia in primary care involve a combination of blood pressure measurements, urinalysis and/or biochemical and haematological testing. Blood biomarkers have recently been identified but testing can only be carried out in large laboratories, for example, at the Women’s & Children’s Hospital.
Concurrently, preeclampsia can progress very quickly – in some cases hours – and have catastrophic consequences. We hope our device can bridge this gap in care for rural women.
An AU$132,000 grant from The Hospital Research Foundation Group will help accelerate the testing and commercialisation of the device through a trial of at-risk pregnant women in hospitals. If validated, the trial will then extend to mothers seen by the Royal Flying Doctors Service retrieval team, with the hope to then expand even wider with more funding. The 3D-printed device is being manufactured locally by the South Australian node of the Australian National Fabrication Facility at UniSA’s Mawson Lakes campus.
The Director of the National Emergency Response and the Public Health Research Unit at the Royal Flying Doctors Service said if the trial was successful, the technology would have a significant impact on prenatal care in regional areas. He noted that preeclampsia is a substantial risk during pregnancy, which is exacerbated in remote communities, where diagnosis and subsequent treatment can take significantly longer than in major city areas.
The hospital conducts roughly 750 retrievals associated with pregnancy per year, with pre-term labour, premature rupture of membranes and preeclampsia being some of the leading transfer reasons.
The Royal Flying Doctor Service has seen, first-hand, the impacts of poorly managed preeclampsia and this technology is an exciting and much-needed step forward in improving rural and remote patient outcomes and in closing the gap, he added.
Meanwhile, the CEO of The Hospital Research Foundation Group, said the organisation was pleased to be advancing testing of the device. He noted that women’s health and bridging the gap between country and city care are important healthcare needs. The revolutionary technology, if validated, will be an exciting development to give all mums and bubs the very best start in life, he added.
The CSIRO’s Next Generation Graduates Programmes are industry-university partnerships aimed at developing a pipeline of home-grown, job-ready graduates to unlock the immense economic opportunity offered by AI and emerging technologies.
In this latest round, 14 programmes were funded, with RMIT leading four, including two by its Centre for Industrial AI Research and Innovation (CIAIRI), one by its Enterprise AI and Data Analytics Hub, and one by the Sir Lawrence Wackett Defence and Aerospace Centre. RMIT will also support a further three.
These programs will provide generous scholarships to domestic PhD students which allows them to be part of a multi-disciplinary team aimed at solving real-world challenges. The programmes are:
1. AI for Next Generation Food & Waste Systems (RMIT led, La Trobe supported)
This programme addresses the skills shortage in adopting advanced AI technologies in the areas of food and waste, a critical national manufacturing priority. This will boost food productivity, improve food quality control and logistics, reduce, and better manage waste generated during the life cycle of food production and consumption.
Through a range of industry-driven research activities, this program will produce a cohort of graduates that are not only equipped with practical AI skills but also ready to integrate into food and waste related industry sectors to generate real impact.
2. Developing Digital Capabilities to Support the Aged Care Sector (RMIT led, Victoria and Newcastle supported)
One of the recommendations in the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety is to adopt technology to transform the aged care system so that carers’ time can be best used to deliver quality care. The report also recommended the use of technology to increase the connectedness of older Australians – to one another, families and carers, and to the broader community.
This programme aims to reimagine the role of technologies like AI, AR/VR and sensors which are critical in ensuring the sustainability of the sector. Our industry partners are driven by these challenges every day thus, the research undertaken in this programme will have great significance and impact.
3. AI Techniques for Emergency Management and Critical Infrastructure (RMIT led, Sydney Uni supported)
This programme will produce a cohort of graduates with much-needed skills in AI to support critical infrastructure and community safety. Some of the common AI techniques across the selected projects are:
- computer vision -creating 3D reconstructions from 2D images of interior designs and detecting potential hazards and threats via surveillance videos
- agent-based modelling and simulation (ABMS) – which is becoming increasingly popular to model and simulate the management of disaster events such as floods and bushfires and
- digital twin technology – which involves complementary approaches of digitising models of infrastructure, people, and business processes and one of the projects investigates the integration of all three aspects.
4. Applied AI and Digital Innovation for Defence and Aerospace Applications (RMIT led, Charles Darwin supported)
This programme will deliver graduates capable of tackling Australia’s pressing current and future challenges in the defence and aerospace sectors through the application of AI and digital technologies. It will expand opportunities for diverse communities of students and create workers skilled in emerging technologies, including applied AI, digital twins and threads, machine learning, robotics, cyber security, and modern manufacturing.
This interdisciplinary program builds on the strategic partnership between RMIT University and Charles Darwin University (CDU), which will see the creation of a joint Aerospace and Defence Industries 4.0 TestLab in the Northern Territory.
5. AI for Clean Energy and Sustainability (Monash led, RMIT supported)
Delivering clean and sustainable energy and enabling energy transition is a global challenge. AI is expected to play a significant role in this transition by enabling more effective models and tools, accurately predicting reliable supply, optimising maintenance and operations, making smarter decisions and assessing risk.
This programme will focus on the Recycling and Clean Energy National Manufacturing Priority to teach a variety of HDR students innovative AI technologies driven by these industry priorities.
6. Central Bank Digital Currency – Infrastructure & Applications (Macquarie led, RMIT and UTS supported)
A Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) would be a new digital form of money issued by the Reserve Bank. It could be designed for retail or general use, like a digital version of banknotes.
The development and deployment of robust, efficient and trusted CBDC requires the design, engineering, proving and integration of a suite of technologies including blockchain, security and privacy-preserving solutions and regtech (surveillance, alerting and compliance) technologies and the skilled graduates to help implement them.
7. Artificial Intelligence of Things Empowering Industrial Digital Twin (La Trobe led, RMIT and Swinburne supported)
This programme will develop new digital twin solutions powered by a combination of AI and the Internet of Things (IoT), to meet the needs of industry partners, seeking improved productivity and reduced maintenance and management costs.
By representing physical objects digitally, digital twins can harness real-time IoT data and optimise performance using AI and data analytics. Several research and industry challenges will be addressed, including accurate 3D modelling, digital twin model optimisation, reliable connectivity between the physical world and the digital world, and edge AI models.
Seven intelligent robots have been installed in the wards of Yishun Community Hospital (YCH) to welcome patients and bring supplies to the bedside. These brand-new Temi Robots, known as Angel, were introduced to support nursing care so that nurses could focus their time and energy on clinical tasks while still giving patients a personal and meaningful touch.
These robots are loaded with patient education materials that patients and their caregivers can easily access, in addition to providing announcements and reminders throughout the day in all four major languages.
They also have a variety of features like games and entertainment, teleconference tools, and translation capabilities. YCH hopes to further improve patient engagement and satisfaction in its wards with the new addition.
A pilot project using Nao Robots was also used by YCH in previous years to assist dementia patients in their rehabilitation. Robot Therapy, which was started by the staff at YCH in 2018, is now a part of the therapy-related services offered there.
YCH, which is conceived of as a healing space for patients, offers intermediate care for recovering patients who do not require the intensive care services of an acute-care hospital. With rehabilitation and therapy at the heart of the hospital’s mission, the team was eager to investigate the potential of the innovation, Robot Therapy.
Because they can perform a wide range of tasks with little to no value added, hospital robots offer a reliable solution, freeing up doctors, nurses, and surgeons to focus on more high-value work. Robots have become an integral part of the healthcare industry, with many hospitals now using them to perform both surgical and administrative tasks.
In addition, prior to the arrival of Nao Robots in Singapore, a few local nursing homes used Paro, a robot that mimics the appearance, movement, and sounds of a baby seal. The therapeutic robot seal’s use is like animal therapy in that the robot helps to calm elderly people who have dementia or a loss of cognitive function.
The Nao robot, on the other hand, came with higher expectations: it can express emotions like laughter or sadness during interactions; it can interact and communicate with patients in different languages; and it has optic, audio, and impact sensors and motors to detect surroundings, interpret detection, and activate programmed responses.
Various interaction and language modes can be programmed into the Nao robot. The YCH Robot Therapy team took advantage of this by incorporating the robot into specific therapy sessions. This increased efficiency freed up nursing time, which could then be used for other care activities. Nao robot therapy sessions were trialled with 48 patients from the Dementia ward in October 2018.
Patients with Behavioural and Psychological Symptoms of Dementia (BPSD) require more care and attention, so this was chosen as the pilot ward. By introducing the Nao robot, YCH has increased patient engagement, motivate them to engage in social activities, and shorten the time required for social activities so that caregivers could concentrate on other care-related tasks.
The implementation process was divided into three stages: training staff, selecting suitable patients and assessing seniors who participated in the Robot Therapy programme using the Observed Emotion Rating Scale.
Singhealth asserts that the COVID-19 pandemic, which hastened the adoption of these solutions and accelerated the digital transformation of healthcare systems globally, has sparked a tremendous interest in digital technology and virtual health solutions.
A group of clinician innovators from SingHealth sought to ascertain whether digital interventions are more affordable and provide patients with greater value and benefits in anticipation of this continuing upward trend, and they discovered that this may not always be the case for some eye conditions.