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Samsung, Deakin initiate smart home health IoT trials

William Payne
October 13, 2016

Mobile technology firm Samsung Australia has partnered with Deakin University and healthcare IoT specialist Unisono to develop IoT based smart home health technology and software to monitor patient behaviours while at home.

The announcement coincides with the unveiling of a robot surgeon with the sense of touch by the University of Deakin.

The home health collaboration will trial three smart home technology projects with the aim of exploring how machine learning and IoT technologies can assist and support healthy behaviours for patients while at home.

The trials will utilise the Unisono Artificial Intelligence platform which integrates into Samsung’s SmartThings IoT platform and SmartThings Hub. Samsung has been heavily involved in Unisono’s Digital Assisted Living trials. Samsung actively participated over the past 18 months in the development of the AI platform, contributing both financial assistance and IoT technology amongst other things.

Samsung Australia chief technology officer Ian Aitkin said in an interview that the purpose of the trials was not only to explore and develop new smart health technologies, but develop ways to speed up production and deployment for patients that need such support.

One project will look at diet compliance with patients who have Type 2 Diabetes. This project relies on Deakin University developed technology and Samsung network platform technology.

Unlike some previous attempts at monitoring home compliance of diets, the Deakin-Samsung project is not using cameras, which the partners view as too intrusive for the trial participants. Instead, the trial will use passive sensors.

A second project is exploring if elderly patients who have been assigned to care support home could live an independent life in their own homes for longer, and what assistive technologies might help them remain independent.

A third project is exploring whether similar approaches and technologies might help patients with serious trauma injuries remain independent for longer in their own homes.

Deakin University has also announced the HeroSurg robot, a surgical system designed to give surgeons the sense of touch while they drive a robot to conduct keyhole surgery via a computer.

The HeroSurg robot is a major breakthrough to current technology, which now limits robotic surgery to the sense of sight, and means laparoscopic, or keyhole/micro surgery, will be safer and more accurate than ever before by reducing trauma and lowering risk of blood loss and infection.

HeroSurg was developed by engineers from Deakin and Harvard, along with Professor Suren Krishnan, who in 2008 became the first Australian surgeon to use the current available da Vinci robotic surgical system for ear, nose and throat procedures.

Professor Krishnan, from the Royal Adelaide Hospital, said HeroSurg’s addition of the sense of touch, provided through technology known as haptic feedback, would lead to better patient outcomes.

“The major drawback of the current system is the lack of tactile feedback,” Professor Krishnan said.

“Tactile feedback allows a surgeon to differentiate between tissues and to ‘feel’ delicate tissues weakened by infection or inflammation and dissect them more carefully. Tactile feedback will allow us to use finer and more delicate sutures in microsurgery.”

Professor Krishnan said the haptics technology would also improve the ability to distinguish between tissues involved with cancer from normal tissue.

Other unique HeroSurg features include high-resolution 3D images, an increased range of motion for the surgeon, and a more ergonomic workstation console.