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 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 after I consider Australia. From the Nice Barrier Reef to the Blue Mountains, all the way in which to Kakadu Nationwide Park, it’s an immensely biodiverse place. Residence to greater than 1 million plant and animal species, many distinctive. Nonetheless, 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 dimensions 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 this planet, 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 people who 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 longer term. From centuries-old banks and enormous telco enterprises, to younger startups doing the whole lot from good farming to piloting subterranean robots that map water methods 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 residence to a flourishing startup scene. It’s flush with corporations targeted on bettering healthcare outcomes, not just for folks 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). An organization that has constructed mind mapping software program with the potential to revolutionize not solely neurosurgery, however the way in which that we diagnose and deal with each neurological and psychological well being situations. After I bought to Sydney, they have been type sufficient to take a seat and chat about their know-how stack, and the way cloud companies, particularly machine studying, permit them to provide customized mind maps from current MRIs that not solely present how a affected person’s mind is formed, however how each 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 keep in mind the times when MRIs have been filed in cupboards, and analyzing tons of of 1000’s of information factors was a pipe dream. This know-how really has the potential to enhance our collective understanding of the mind, speed up analysis, and most significantly, enhance the lives of sufferers. I first discovered of Omniscient from Billion Greenback Serviette, 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 enhance the experience of docs, researchers, and medical professionals. We are able to all agree that extra precision in neurosurgery is an effective factor. Nonetheless, an space that’s typically ignored, however equally necessary, is creating the instruments that present sufferers with extra management of their therapies.

Seer Medical is a startup targeted on bettering the lives of individuals dwelling with epilepsy. They’ve created a non-invasive wearable machine that can be utilized at residence to repeatedly accumulate EEG and ECG information from a affected person. The information is saved within the cloud (tons 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 kind of info was traditionally restricted to multi-day research that relied on costly gear 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 recreation changer for sufferers, in addition to docs and researchers. It provides sufferers autonomy. In the event that they know that some days are increased danger than others they will plan for it and decrease dangers. For docs and researchers it means extra and higher information to check, which can at some point assist them forestall epileptic seizures altogether.

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

Organic intelligence

Not everybody learning the mind is concentrated 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 this point, 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 primarily based 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 targeted 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 got spent a long time designing methods that mimic the human mind, and now we’re seeing neural stem cells utilized in natural computer systems. Joking apart, the analysis being performed by Cortical Labs is intriguing, and exhibits that there’s nonetheless rather a lot that we’ve got to be taught. Within the close to future, they are going to be wanting into the impacts of medication and alcohol on their organic computer systems — it is going to 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 influence drive of a foot strike or a tough minimize 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 various 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 surroundings, 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 yr’s predictions. However the implications are a lot greater than sport. VueMotion believes that their know-how also can 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 one more instance of know-how augmenting experience in healthcare.

Final, however definitely not least, are Bolt6. I met with them on the Australian Open, the place they have 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 know-how had turn into in tennis watching the US Open final summer time. All the line judges have been gone. Only a chair umpire and the ball crew. A product of the pandemic, however doubtless an indication of issues to come back. This realization left me with extra questions than solutions. How correct have been the road calls? Would this transformation the notion of equity for gamers and followers? Would it not pace up matches, and if sure, how would it not influence participant fatigue and incidence of damage?

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 digicam isn’t going to alter a name when a participant yells or smashes a racket.

With X, Y, Z monitoring, Bolt6 can do way more than make a line name or measure gait, they will 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 observe 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 presently on the verge of the largest revolution it has ever seen, and cloud applied sciences are on the middle of this transformation.

It takes a village

I’m frequently requested questions on how issues work at Amazon. How we do issues. What drives innovation. All the pieces from writing docs to successfully managing giant engineering groups constructing distributed methods. 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 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 may be, there was a typical 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 really 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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