The (computer) science of feeling good

accessibility tech researcher Dr Jordan Nguyen smiles at Riley who is sitting in his wheelchair

Riley Saban is only in Year 9 but he’s already working on his future technology career. Since featuring in the 2016 ABC TV documentary, Becoming Superhuman, Riley has been a product tester and ambassador for tech startup Psykinetic.

Becoming Superhuman followed Riley’s work with biomedical engineer Dr Jordan Nguyen and his team, who used electronics, 3D printing and artificial intelligence to create a system that lets Riley operate devices using electric signals triggered by his eye movements.



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Above: Dr Jordan Nguyen and Riley

Riley was born with cerebral palsy. He has trained his brain to operate a range of equipment using eye signals, from lights and computers to driving a customised electric buggy.

“We are standing at the verge of a massive technological revolution,” says Jordan, adding that the intersection between technology and humanity has the potential to improve quality of life, shape a more inclusive society and contribute towards building a better world.

The Australian health industry is worth more than AU$200 billion (NZ$218 billion) each year and employs one in eight Australians. Coding skills in this sector will be in big demand, says Professor Louisa Jorm, who heads up the Centre for Big Data Research in Health at UNSW Sydney.

“There are huge amounts of data starting to flow and very few people with the right capabilities,” she says.

Millions of electronic patient records, prescription records and Medicare records are collected daily. This data is useful because it can be ‘cleansed’ – stripped of identifying information – which allows patient data to be analysed for patterns.

Harnessing this information can reveal trends in disease outbreaks and treatment, and potentially save money by ensuring preventative programs are targeted to at-risk people.

– Fran Molloy


CS+Wellness study

University of Sydney

Bachelor of Advanced Computing / Bachelor of Science(Health)

Western Sydney University

Bachelor of Data Science, and Bachelor of Medical Science

Monash University

Bachelor of Health Sciences

CS+Wellness JOBS

Database developer

AU$51K–$117K / NZ$43K–$86K

Healthcare consultant

AU$52K–$131K / NZ$33K–$119K

Data scientist

AU$59K–$135K / NZ$65K–$110K
*Source: salaries according
Fran Molloy

Author: Fran Molloy

FRAN MOLLOY is a freelance journalist and university lecturer whose career has spanned newspapers, radio and online publications. She writes about business, careers, research, science and environment.


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