Artificial Intelligence (AI) has been reaping massive benefits in the majority of industries that have started using it, and one of the newest industries to do so is health. However, while it’s definitely helped in the likes of diagnosing and treating illnesses, one place where AI is starting to shine is in making life somewhat easier for people with mobility issues.
One of the biggest advancements in using AI in the health industry is the recent introduction of a wheelchair with AI algorithms that make things a lot more comfortable – and easier – for users. This was recently the case with the introduction of the Hoobox Robotics’ Wheelie 7 kit, which is arguably the first of its kind.
Using Intel AI technology, the kit is geared toward wheelchair users who only rely on facial movements in order to move. With this kind of technology, quadriplegics to move, stop and change directions with a number of basic gestures that they can choose between. Because of that, the Hoobox Robotics’ Wheelie 7 kit is starting to look like a boon for the wheelchair industry.
But with AI, these kinds of feature are a lot less invasive than many of its predecessors; instead of body sensors, which can be quite invasive and uncomfortable for users, it uses a 3D Intel Real Sense camera in order to register facial expressions.
According to the inventors behind the device, it’s aimed at giving people with disabilities more autonomy in their daily lives, and there’s no reason why there can’t be more advancements made in the next few months or years. This is something that Intel Head of AI for Social Good Anna Bethke echoed; she claimed that this was a step in the right direction, but there was still a long way to go.
As she put it, these advancements are critical to helping people regain mobility; in fact, those who do have very limited mobility are the most likely to benefit from this kind of AI algorithm. She pointed to the Wheelie 7 kit as just an example of what can be done with AI in the healthcare industry.
But that isn’t the only part of the health industry where AI might be able to make its presence felt; according to recent reports, AI can make hospitals and other healthcare facilities more adaptable and easier for people to use. According to Macquarie University Australian Institute of Health Innovation Centre of Health Informatics Director Professor Enrico Coiera, it can make patient care a whole lot easier.
Speaking at the Wild Health Summit in Sydney, he said that while having AI fully integrated into healthcare systems is still a long way away, it doesn’t mean that there aren’t certain areas that can’t benefit massively from technology that’s already available. He also made note of the fact that AI won’t be taking away healthcare jobs; it’ll simply make it easier to care for patients.
At the conference, he said that AI and machine learning will just make things easier for healthcare professionals to care for patients. AI will mainly help with very specific tasks, as well as in patient comfort. According to Mr. Coiera, there’s no reason why those two have to be mutually exclusive.
Unfortunately, however, it looks like progress on this end may be slow, as Google Brain USA Product Manager Eyal Oren said at the conference. At the conference, he noted that AI and machine learning will be able to help make predictions in order to make things easier for both patients and healthcare professionals.
Because of that, he said, while AI will definitely improve existing patient care, the lack of teamwork between different hospitals and other healthcare professionals, it may take longer than it should to actually institute this kind of technology across the board. On top of that, it may end up driving more quality healthcare for patients, no matter what it is that they’re visiting the hospital for.
According to many of those that spoke at the conference, better care for patients, and an easier time for healthcare staff would be the biggest areas to be improved by AI. As it currently stands, it’s not a matter of if AI makes a major impact, but when.