This year's Benchmark Awards finalists in the emerging technology category have delivered projects spanning from cutting edge research facilities through to innovative use of technologies often dismissed as mere gimmicks.
The broad scope of this category reflects the diversity of organisations looking to innovate their operations and deliver better services.
The finalists in this category have gone to great lengths to ensure the success of these programs even in the face of uncertainty, including rewriting government procedures, overhauling their network environment and training a virtual coach on the latest health advice.
iTnews Benchmark Awards 2020 emerging technology finalists
IRT Group: ‘Autonomous Vehicle Shuttle Service’
Mobility, isolation and access to community services are some of the biggest issues in older populations, prompting IRT Group to look at introducing driverless vehicles at its Kangara Waters seniors lifestyle community in the ACT.
IRT worked with the ACT government to co-create the application process to even allow an autonomous vehicle on the village’s roads
The successful trial of an Easymile shuttle resulted in an uptick in patronage at the local cafe and more outings by residents - with some individuals regularly riding the shuttle upwards of three times a day.
It also served as a proof of concept for how the ACT can connect aged care facilities or other seniors villages to other public facilities.
University of South Australia, OutThought: ‘Health Coach Paola’
OutThought and the University of South Australia developed a virtual assistant as a proof of concept to see if it was capable of delivering an entire health program without human intervention.
After 12 weeks of training the AI assistant can answer questions on 70 topics related to the dietary and exercise program and understand around 2000 phrases and nuances.
Paola also integrates with wearable fitness trackers, allowing it to prompt participants who might’ve have missed their daily exercise goals to encourage them to increase their activity levels.
Unlike human health coaches, Paola is available to answer questions at all times of the day and night, or while in supermarket aisles while trying to make healthy purchases.
All participants who trialled Paola increased the amount of exercise they did a week, lost weight and showed a significantly higher adherence to the diet than is typically seen.
University of Wollongong: ‘Molecular Horizons Research Facility’
The Molecular Horizons Research Facility is part of the university’s push for digitally-enabled research across a number of faculties, using data-mining and machine learning across massive datasets for health analytics and molecular visualisation.
Establishing this capability required close collaboration between researchers and the IT team, as well as a close consideration of physical sites to host two new powerful electron microscopes.
It also forced the university to deploy its first software defined networking model due to the high security and flexibility requirements of sensitive healthcare research initiatives.