The companies using robotics and AI to make lives better: Oceania

For some regions and communities, health and environmental wellbeing are in decline. But can robots help? In this five-part series we take a look at companies around the world that are using technology for the betterment of humankind.

Though blessed with plenty of natural beauty, Australia and New Zealand face their fair share of challenges maintaining their unique environments and maximising their citizens’ wellbeing.

Here we take a look at a number of companies investing in new ways robotics and AI can help the planet for a more peaceful, healthier and productive tomorrow.

AI to help manage workplace stress

Company: Uprise

Country: Australia

Sector: Wellness

Feature: AI-based app to help with performance and stress management

Mental health in the workplace still has a bit of a stigma surrounding it. But with Uprise, employees can receive cognitive behavioural therapy quickly and easily from their smartphones.

First, the employee completes a one-minute mental health checkup. Then the employee is offered a one-month digital programme designed to improve stress and help with clear thinking.

At first, the course is delivered with a trained psychologist. Over time, the AI within the app becomes intelligent enough to deliver the course without a coach. The app can also determine the level of intervention required.

It’s really hard to get people to use mental health services, but if you can make it easy to start, then you can get them in the door and make it to the next level.

Dr Jay Spence, CEO, Uprise (via Business Insider Australia)

Sensors for smarter cities

Company: Ecospectral

Country: Australia

Sector: Energy

Feature: Energy-saving sensor solution where systems automatically adjust according to usage

With the help of AI researchers at the University of Canberra in Australia, Ecospectral have created a system that applies AI to smart-home heating and lighting. It considers datasets such as where people are located in a building and delivers this data in real time. Thermostats, light fittings and other energy-demanding hardware can be adjusted on a granular level.

I lived close to the White House and I couldn’t believe how vulnerable their energy system was. I was tired of reading by candle light in the 21st century, so I thought ‘what if my house used energy according to where I was and what I was doing and stored it for when the power went out?’ So that’s what I did. I built it for my home and engineered it so it would scale. Now it’s the BRIM system for smart cities.

David Keightley, CEO, Ecospectral (via CBR Innovation)

Advanced AI for medical diagnostic

Company: Presagen

Country: Australia

Sector: Healthcare

Feature: Platform using deep learning, computer vision, physics and statistics for medical diagnostics

The company’s medical diagnostic platform brings together deep learning, computer vision and other techniques to analyse large datasets of historical medical images to create accurate medical diagnostic tools. Its platform has already been used by fertility startup Life Whisperer, which uses AI to select healthy embryos in IVF.

It’s really about improving clinical decision-making and efficiency, using AI and large quantums of data to provide additional guidance to clinicians to support their diagnoses from medical images.

Dr Michelle Perugini, co-founder, Presagen

Seafaring robots to monitor oceans

Company: Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS)

Country: Australia

Sector: Environment

Feature: Underwater and aerial robots at sea allowing for greater monitoring of the Great Barrier Reef

The Great Barrier Reef is the world’s largest marine reserve – roughly the size of Japan or Italy. Monitoring this World Heritage-listed area is a significant undertaking for researchers and divers. However, AIMS has recently trialled a seafaring robot that could make this job a lot easier and safer. When attached with a hyperspectral camera, the Blue ROV2 can achieve a dive capability of 100m and capture more than 270 bands of colour, thereby reducing the need to place divers in risky situations.

These robots will soon be helping to free up our marine science researchers to do the important work of looking at how to help support these reefs.

Melanie Olson, Technology Transformation Leader, AIMS

AI helping high school and university students with maths

Company: Jaipuna (formerly Osnova)

Country: New Zealand

Sector: Education

Feature: App-based tutoring with bespoke feedback

Tutoring company Jaipuna has created an AI-based app to help students succeed at maths. Unlike other systems, the app, named Amy, gives specific advice based on each student’s answers. This includes unique feedback for common mistakes and suggestions for areas the student needs to improve on. This individualisation of teaching may be exactly the thing many struggling students need to progress.

We wanted to improve students’ learning by giving them a tutor who is always there to help them, whether they are learning at school or at home.

Raphael Nolden, Founder, Jaipuna (via Future Five)

From coastlines and curriculums, to mental health and healthcare – in Oceania it’s clear tech is here to save the day.

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