Is Australia the brand new epicenter for healthtech startups?
On my latest journey to Australia, I met with a handful of startups which can be fixing exhausting issues in healthcare, like mapping the mind, predicting seizures, and bettering rehabilitation for aged sufferers. And in all of those instances, cloud applied sciences are serving to to speed up analysis and innovation.
After half a dozen journeys unfold throughout twenty years, huge is the primary phrase that involves thoughts once I consider Australia. From the Nice Barrier Reef to the Blue Mountains, all the best way to Kakadu Nationwide Park, it’s an immensely biodiverse place. House to greater than 1 million plant and animal species, many distinctive. Nevertheless, it’s a rustic that’s outlined as a lot by distance and the areas between, as it’s by pure magnificence. At almost the scale of the continental United States, Australia has lower than 1/tenth the inhabitants — however the inhabitants it does have is without doubt one of the most numerous on this planet, together with a wealthy mix of indigenous and immigrant cultures. It’s a rustic of fantastic contrasts. And for that purpose, it ought to come as no shock that the companies and concepts born in Australia are as numerous because the people who inhabit it.
For just a few weeks in January and February, I had an opportunity to go to the east coast of Australia, which coincided with our first AWS Area launch of the New Yr. After a fast go to to Rod Laver Enviornment, the place I witnessed an unimaginable exhibiting from Novak Djokovic towards Stefanos Tsitsipas, I spent most of my time assembly with AWS clients and Amazonians which can be inventing Australia into the longer term. From centuries-old banks and enormous telco enterprises, to younger startups doing every thing from sensible farming to piloting subterranean robots that map water programs beneath town streets of Melbourne, the cloud helps corporations of all sizes innovate shortly and at scale.
All of it begins with the mind
Australia is house to a flourishing startup scene. It’s flush with corporations centered on bettering healthcare outcomes, not just for individuals in Australia, however in all places on this planet. And all of it begins with the mind.
Earlier this yr, once we launched the AWS Asia Pacific (Melbourne) Area, I wrote about Omniscient Neurotechnology (o8t). A company that has built brain mapping software with the potential to revolutionize not only neurosurgery, but the way that we diagnose and treat both neurological and mental health conditions. When I got to Sydney, they were kind enough to sit and chat about their technology stack, and how cloud services, specifically machine learning, allow them to produce personalized brain maps from existing MRIs that not only show how a patient’s brain is shaped, but how each and every connection is clustered. And while I declined a personal brain scan (I’m not quite ready to know everything that’s going on inside my head), I left our conversation feeling hopeful. I remember the days when MRIs were filed in cabinets, and analyzing hundreds of thousands of data points was a pipe dream. This technology truly has the potential to improve our collective understanding of the brain, accelerate research, and most importantly, improve the lives of patients. I first learned of Omniscient from Billion Dollar Napkin, and I’m together with a hyperlink to the episode as a result of it’s completely value watching.
It’s thrilling to see how new applied sciences are getting used to reinforce the experience of medical doctors, researchers, and medical professionals. We are able to all agree that extra precision in neurosurgery is an efficient factor. Nevertheless, an space that’s typically ignored, however equally essential, is creating the instruments that present sufferers with extra management of their therapies.
Seer Medical is a startup centered on bettering the lives of individuals residing with epilepsy. They’ve created a non-invasive wearable gadget that can be utilized at house to repeatedly acquire EEG and ECG information from a affected person. The info is saved within the cloud (a whole lot of TBs), then analyzed to detect coronary heart and brainwave abnormalities, that are used to foretell seizures earlier than they happen. Entry to this kind of info was traditionally restricted to multi-day research that relied on costly tools and required sufferers to remain at a clinic in a single day for commentary. When the examine concluded, so did information assortment. What Seer has developed is a sport changer for sufferers, in addition to medical doctors and researchers. It provides sufferers autonomy. In the event that they know that some days are increased threat than others they’ll plan for it and reduce dangers. For medical doctors and researchers it means extra and higher information to check, which can someday assist them stop epileptic seizures altogether.
In each instances, cloud applied sciences paired with human intelligence are shifting us nearer to a future the place personalised healthcare is the usual, not the exception.
Not everyone studying the brain is focused on healthcare. Melbourne’s Cortical Labs are developing what they call “DishBrain Intelligence”. At the intersection of soft tissue and silicon, they are using stem cells to create the equivalent of a neural network that lives on a lab slide (the “DishBrain”).
So far, they have taught stem cells to play Pong. Just like the neural networks utilized in machine studying, these biologic computer systems depend on reinforcement studying. When an motion is carried out, the community is both rewarded or penalized based mostly on the outcome.
At a high-level, right here’s the way it works. The slide makes use of electrical inputs to see the paddle and ball, and electrical outputs to maneuver the paddle. When the ball makes contact with the paddle, the community is rewarded with a small quantity of centered vitality. When the paddle misses the ball, the community is given a small quantity of random noise. Over time, the stem cells be taught to optimize the community to hit the ball. The irony isn’t misplaced on me that we’ve spent a long time designing programs that mimic the human mind, and now we’re seeing neural stem cells utilized in natural computer systems. Joking apart, the research being done by Cortical Labs is intriguing, and reveals that there’s nonetheless so much that we’ve to be taught. Within the close to future, they are going to be wanting into the impacts of drugs and alcohol on their organic computer systems — will probably be fascinating to see what they uncover.
Wholesome physique, wholesome thoughts… and a little bit of aggressive benefit
Shifting from the lab to the realm of on a regular basis actions, there are Australian startups doing fascinating work on the crossroads of well being and sport. Corporations like VueMotion, who’re utilizing laptop imaginative and prescient to develop machine studying fashions that may monitor kinetic and kinematic information for athletes — every thing from joint angles and gait evaluation, to the impression power of a foot strike or a tough reduce on the soccer pitch.
Much like how Omniscient are constructing personalised mind maps, VueMotion are creating personalised physique fashions. They confirmed me a demo of a runner whose stride lengths different from left to proper foot with an overlay of kinematic information. With this kind of info, trainers and coaches can shortly acquire an understanding of how somebody strikes in a pure atmosphere, make changes, then monitor how their actions change over time — each progressions and regressions — all utilizing video captured from a smartphone.
What VueMotion has constructed has actual potential to forestall accidents and enhance efficiency for athletes in any respect ranges. It’s the kind of innovation I alluded to in this year’s predictions. But the implications are much bigger than sport. VueMotion believes that their technology can also improve elder care and rehabilitation. Giving doctors and physical therapists the tools and data they need to draw insights, create patient specific plans, and track progress over time. It’s yet another example of technology augmenting expertise in healthcare.
Last, but certainly not least, are Bolt6. I met with them at the Australian Open, where they were running a proof of concept for player, racket, and ball tracking — processed and analyzed in the cloud (no server racks required). I first noticed how prevalent technology had become in tennis watching the US Open last summer. The entire line judges had been gone. Only a chair umpire and the ball crew. A product of the pandemic, however doubtless an indication of issues to return. This realization left me with extra questions than solutions. How correct had been the road calls? Would this modification the notion of equity for gamers and followers? Would it not velocity up matches, and if sure, how wouldn’t it impression participant fatigue and incidence of harm?
The know-how Bolt6 has developed to make line calls could be very correct. With an error tolerance of three millimeters, it gives extra precision than the common line choose. And it’s constant — a digital camera isn’t going to vary a name when a participant yells or smashes a racket.
With X, Y, Z monitoring, Bolt6 can do far more than make a line name or measure gait, they’ll do issues like decide how shut a participant is to a ball and the way they’re shaping as much as make a success, even assess fatigue in real-time. And their innovation doesn’t cease with tennis. Bolt6 can be offering the know-how that permits NASCAR to trace each automotive on a monitor with 300 millisecond supply, no matter the place on this planet a race is going down. What they’ve constructed opens up a close to infinite variety of analytics that may enhance coaching and technique for all sports activities, and improve broadcasts for followers.
As I mentioned on the finish of final yr, the sports activities world is at present on the verge of the largest revolution it has ever seen, and cloud applied sciences are on the middle of this modification.
It takes a village
I’m usually requested questions on how issues work at Amazon. How we do issues. What drives innovation. The whole lot from writing docs to successfully managing giant engineering groups constructing distributed programs. I can share processes, I can talk about tradition, however what makes Amazon work is the Amazonians. With out them, what you’ve examine on this put up wouldn’t be doable.
Till subsequent time
As huge and numerous as Australia is perhaps, there was a typical theme shared by the businesses, entrepreneurs, and engineers I met with: a ardour to resolve exhausting human issues. As I mirror on this journey, it’s really inspiring to see how cloud applied sciences are being harnessed to enhance healthcare outcomes. Now, as at all times, go construct!