​Samsung partners with Deakin University for healthcare IoT exploration

The industry-academia partnership will explore how the Internet of Things and artificial intelligence can support assisted living programs in healthcare.
Written by Asha Barbaschow, Contributor

Samsung Australia has partnered with Deakin University and independent research group Unisono to develop Internet of Things (IoT)-based smart home technology and software in a bid to overcome healthcare challenges.

The partnership will see the trial of three smart home technology-focused projects designed to guide Australian research and development programs that will explore how IoT technology and applied learning-based systems of artificial intelligence can support assisted living programs in healthcare.

Ian Aitken, CTO and head of New Business Development at Samsung Australia, told ZDNet he believes IoT and the concept of a smart home has not progressed much further than sensors opening a garage or switching lights on or off.

He said the partnership with Deakin and Unisono will instead focus on improving things for people at home and will also aim to speed up the availability and deployment of such technology for people who need it.

"We really want to put the smarts into smart homes. We see the traditional way of doing it -- just turning things on and off -- not quite there," he said. "We have the various different appliances, what we're trying to do is use them more intelligently to predict what people are going to use them for. That has enormous potential."

One of the project trials already underway focuses on diet management within the sphere of type two diabetes and uses Deakin-developed technology on top of Samsung platforms to determine if people are adhering to doctor-prescribed diets.

Aitken said it is far too complex trying to understand what people consume without relying on them to keep a strict diary.

"What we have done is used very simple passive sensors, so no cameras, that we install into someone's home with a focus on the kitchen -- fridge, cupboards," he said.

"What we're trying to do from a psychological standpoint is determine if there are some areas of research that can be further undertaken to see what can be done from a diabetes standpoint."

Another project Aitken said the pair are undertaking is in the aged care sector, looking at how those about to transition into a care facility can lead an independent life longer in their own home.

The third project is in conjunction with the Transport Accident Commission and will see similar technology placed in the homes of those living with an acquired brain injury or spinal damage.

"All three of them are very different scenarios. The hardware that Samsung can provide in unison with the Deakin software, we hope we can have material impact on people's lives," he said.

"We've touched the top of the iceberg here. What's under the water is where the lion's share of the activity is going to be."

Professor John Grundy, Pro Vice-Chancellor, ICT Innovation and Translation at Deakin University, said partnering with an industry heavyweight like Samsung gives the university an opportunity to place students in forward-looking projects that will make a difference in people's lives.

"This will take some really deep research that many Deakin groups have done in many of these areas and trial them, learn from them, improve them, and give students and researchers real world application, with access to real world data and access to trials that will greatly influence how we can address what are really growing challenges for our communities," Grundy said.

"We want to use those emerging smart technologies to actually simplify the support for people ageing in their homes, for rehabilitation, for people with various challenges, and support people."

With one of the projects close to his heart, Grundy believes that despite the market being so large, the potential to make a positive difference to the lives of so many people is "tremendously exciting and important".

"It will really get past the gimmicks," he said.

In another medical technology advancement, Deakin University last month unveiled the HeroSurg robot, which gives surgeons, for the first time in Australia, the sense of touch while they perform surgery via a computer.

Developed in the laboratory at Deakin's Waurn Ponds campus in Geelong by engineers from Deakin and Harvard, HeroSurg gives surgeons the added sense of touch through technology known as haptic feedback, meaning laparoscopic or keyhole microsurgery will be safer and more accurate by reducing trauma and lowering the risk of blood loss and infection.

The medical breakthrough built on the initiative Deakin, in conjunction with Telstra, made earlier this year when they developed remote controlled, haptically-enabled technology that was aimed at improving access to diagnostics tools for geographically isolated patients.

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