Wellness 2.0: celebrating computer science careers in health

CS + health
New e-health developments are allowing us to take a more active role in routine self-care. Image: Shutterstock

In an era where 78 per cent of us are hitting up Dr Google for health-related information, it’s no secret that digital developments in healthcare have revolutionised the way we seek, consume and use medicine. Here, we hash out some of the major areas where technology is creating exciting opportunities, for both our health and our jobs.

In mental health…

As the stigma surrounding mental health erodes, new e-health developments are allowing us to take a more active role in routine self-care. Digital offerings such as meditation apps, micro-mood diaries and symptom trackers are an accessible way to minimise day-to-day stresses, along with 360-video experiences and virtual reality (VR) tech – which are even being employed by hospitals to treat more serious clinical disorders.

Employer goals: Melbourne-based immersive tech brand Phoria! “We’re currently researching the efficacy of VR in easing anxiety, pain and hopefully drug use,” says the startup’s co-founder and creative director Rayyan Roslan.

Rayyan Roslan, co-founder and creative director, Phoria

Their latest project explores 360 video and VR imagery as a therapeutic tool to boost mood, minimise anxiety and decrease pain-relief dependency in young cancer patients.

In fitness…

With real-time data capture one of the most game-changing tech developments in the fitness industry, next-gen gym goers can use wearable devices – activity trackers, smart glasses and e-watches – to record their progress. Gyms benefit from the analytics too, strengthening brand-customer relations through the constant connectivity online.

Employer goals: Wearable X! The Sydney startup has produced a pair of pulsing smart pants equipped with built-in tactile vibrations that encourage you to move – and hold – different yoga positions. The wearable ‘personal trainers’ sync up to your phone via Bluetooth and offer you additional feedback through their companion app.

In sleep…

The tech innovations in sleep are anything but snoozy; with one in three adults not getting enough, the market is notoriously quick to trial new products and solutions. Smart beds, sleep-measuring devices, smartphone apps and data-capturing wearables are just some of the many digital sleep aids expected to scale the industry up to $79.8 billion by 2020.

Employer goals: Somnox! Developed by Delft University, Netherlands, the Somnox sleep robot resembles a pillow, but with a little less fluff and a lot more brains. The device is designed to be held while sleeping, playing music and moving as if ‘breathing’ to send
users into a semi-hypnotic (and meditative) state.

Elisabeth Yunarko, managing director, Spokle

In medicine…

Consistent tech advancements in the pharmaceutical and medical fields have saved lives and the industry just keeps evolving. Biomedical engineers work tirelessly to develop things like minimally invasive robotic surgeries, 3D-printed prosthetics and VR-assisted diagnoses.

Employer goals: Spokle! The expert-led, speech therapy app empowers parents to assist kids with communication challenges through a series of targeted – and accessible – daily activities. “It’s designed to be a supplementary resource for speech therapists to be used in between appointments,” explains managing director Elisabeth Yunarko, who is passionate about developing tech to create accessible healthcare. “Our goal is to provide resources to as many families as possible!”

Computer science + health study:

Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) / Biomedical Engineering, University of Sydney

Bachelor of Information Technology (Honours), Deakin University

Bachelor of Information Technology (Mobile Application Development), University of South Australia 

Computer science + health jobs:

Biomedical engineer: A$56K-A$96K / NZ$46K-NZ$109K

Software engineer (VR/AR): A$50K-A$102K / NZ$46K-NZ$96K

Mobile app developer: A$49K-A$114K / NZ$41K-119K*

* Source: salaries according
to payscale.com

This article originally appears in Careers with STEM: Code 2019.

Cassie Steel

Author: Cassie Steel

As Refraction’s digital assistant, Cassie Steel spends her days researching robots and stalking famous scientists on Twitter.

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