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Is Australia the brand new epicenter for healthtech startups?

Sydney Opera House at night

On my current journey to Australia, I met with a handful of startups which are fixing arduous issues in healthcare, like mapping the mind, predicting seizures, and enhancing rehabilitation for aged sufferers. And in all of those circumstances, cloud applied sciences are serving to to speed up analysis and innovation.

After half a dozen journeys unfold throughout 20 years, huge is the primary phrase that involves thoughts after 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. Residence 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 practically the scale of the continental United States, Australia has lower than 1/tenth the inhabitants — however the inhabitants it does have is among the most numerous on the earth, together with a wealthy mix of indigenous and immigrant cultures. It’s a rustic of great 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 folks that inhabit it.

For a number of 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 12 months. After a fast go to to Rod Laver Area, the place I witnessed an unbelievable exhibiting from Novak Djokovic towards Stefanos Tsitsipas, I spent most of my time assembly with AWS clients and Amazonians which are inventing Australia into the long run. From centuries-old banks and huge telco enterprises, to younger startups doing the whole lot from sensible farming to piloting subterranean robots that map water techniques beneath the 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 dwelling to a flourishing startup scene. It’s flush with corporations targeted on enhancing healthcare outcomes, not just for individuals in Australia, however in all places on the earth. And all of it begins with the mind.

Earlier this 12 months, once we launched the AWS Asia Pacific (Melbourne) Area, I wrote about Omniscient Neurotechnology (o8t). An organization that has constructed mind mapping software program with the potential to revolutionize not solely neurosurgery, however the best way that we diagnose and deal with each neurological and psychological well being situations. After I received to Sydney, they had been form sufficient to sit down and chat about their expertise stack, and the way cloud providers, particularly machine studying, permit them to provide customized mind maps from present MRIs that not solely present how a affected person’s mind is formed, however how every connection is clustered. And whereas I declined a private mind scan (I’m not fairly able to know the whole lot that’s happening inside my head), I left our dialog feeling hopeful. I bear in mind the times when MRIs had been filed in cupboards, and analyzing lots of of hundreds of information factors was a pipe dream. This expertise actually has the potential to enhance our collective understanding of the mind, speed up analysis, and most significantly, enhance the lives of sufferers. I first realized of Omniscient from Billion Greenback Serviette, and I’m together with a hyperlink to the episode as a result of it’s completely price watching.

It’s thrilling to see how new applied sciences are getting used to reinforce the experience of docs, researchers, and medical professionals. We are able to all agree that extra precision in neurosurgery is an efficient factor. Nevertheless, an space that’s usually ignored, however equally vital, is creating the instruments that present sufferers with extra management of their therapies.

Seer Medical is a startup targeted on enhancing the lives of individuals residing with epilepsy. They’ve created a non-invasive wearable system that can be utilized at dwelling to constantly gather EEG and ECG information from a affected person. The information is saved within the cloud (lots of of TBs), then analyzed to detect coronary heart and brainwave abnormalities, that are used to foretell seizures earlier than they happen. Entry to this sort of data 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 research concluded, so did information assortment. What Seer has developed is a recreation changer for sufferers, in addition to docs and researchers. It offers sufferers autonomy. In the event that they know that some days are increased threat than others they’ll plan for it and decrease dangers. For docs and researchers it means extra and higher information to check, which can in the future assist them forestall epileptic seizures altogether.

In each circumstances, cloud applied sciences paired with human intelligence are shifting us nearer to a future the place customized healthcare is the usual, not the exception.

Organic intelligence

Not everybody learning the mind is targeted on healthcare. Melbourne’s Cortical Labs are creating what they name “DishBrain Intelligence”. On the intersection of soppy tissue and silicon, they’re utilizing stem cells to create the equal of a neural community that lives on a lab slide (the “DishBrain”).

Werner observing DishBrain computer on a lab slide
I’ve to confess, it has been some time since I’ve donned a lab coat. Placing one on once more at Cortical Labs actually took me again.

To date, they’ve 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 end result.

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 targeted vitality. When the paddle misses the ball, the community is given a small quantity of random noise. Over time, the stem cells study to optimize the community to hit the ball. The irony is just not misplaced on me that now we have spent many years designing techniques that mimic the human mind, and now we’re seeing neural stem cells utilized in natural computer systems. Joking apart, the analysis being carried out by Cortical Labs is intriguing, and reveals that there’s nonetheless quite a bit that now we have to study. Within the close to future, they are going to be trying into the impacts of medication 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. Firms like VueMotion, who’re utilizing laptop imaginative and prescient to develop machine studying fashions that may observe kinetic and kinematic information for athletes — the whole lot from joint angles and gait evaluation, to the impression drive of a foot strike or a tough lower on the soccer pitch.

Just like how Omniscient are constructing customized mind maps, VueMotion are creating customized physique fashions. They confirmed me a demo of a runner whose stride lengths assorted from left to proper foot with an overlay of kinematic information. With this sort of data, trainers and coaches can shortly acquire an understanding of how somebody strikes in a pure setting, make changes, then observe 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 12 months’s predictions. However the implications are a lot greater than sport. VueMotion believes that their expertise may also enhance elder care and rehabilitation. Giving docs and bodily therapists the instruments and information they want to attract insights, create affected person particular plans, and observe progress over time. It’s yet one more instance of expertise augmenting experience in healthcare.

Final, however actually not least, are Bolt6. I met with them on the Australian Open, the place they had been working a proof of idea for participant, racket, and ball monitoring — processed and analyzed within the cloud (no server racks required). I first observed how prevalent expertise had change into in tennis watching the US Open final summer season. All the line judges had been gone. Only a chair umpire and the ball crew. A product of the pandemic, however seemingly an indication of issues to return. This realization left me with extra questions than solutions. How correct had been the road calls? Would this variation 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 damage?

The expertise Bolt6 has developed to make line calls could be very correct. With an error tolerance of three millimeters, it supplies extra precision than the common line decide. And it’s constant — a digital camera isn’t going to alter 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 also be offering the expertise that enables NASCAR to trace every automobile on a observe with 300 millisecond supply, no matter the place on the earth 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 stated on the finish of final 12 months, the sports activities world is at the moment on the verge of the largest revolution it has ever seen, and cloud applied sciences are on the heart of this variation.

It takes a village

I’m recurrently requested questions on how issues work at Amazon. How we do issues. What drives innovation. All the things from writing docs to successfully managing giant engineering groups constructing distributed techniques. I can share processes, I can discuss tradition, however what makes Amazon work is the Amazonians. With out them, what you’ve examine on this put up wouldn’t be attainable.

A group picture with a few Amazonians from Down Under
Thanks to the entire groups from Melbourne to Sydney that made this a really particular journey.

Till subsequent time

As huge and numerous as Australia is likely to be, there was a standard theme shared by the businesses, entrepreneurs, and engineers I met with: a ardour to unravel arduous human issues. As I mirror on this journey, it’s actually inspiring to see how cloud applied sciences are being harnessed to enhance healthcare outcomes. Now, as all the time, go construct!



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