Create and capture
By Guy Fenton
By combining engineering and computer science skills, you can use visual information to advance healthcare and emergency services.
From detailed pictures of bones to the pics on an Instagram feed, visual information is being created and analysed constantly. New visual technologies are revolutionising art, astronomy, medical diagnostics, security, communication, and emergency rescue operations.
In 2015, biomedical engineer Melissa Knothe Tate from UNSW Australia, debuted a ‘Google Maps for the human body’ – a tool that stitches together detailed images of a human body using the technology behind Google Maps.
While technologies like magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) view a large area of the body, this tool can zoom in to see cellular behaviour.
“MRI is the equivalent of looking at the map of the United States or Europe, where you see the individual country borders,” says Melissa.
“With this, you see the individual ‘inhabitants’ within cities. We can identify problems much earlier at the cellular level.”
Augmented reality, meanwhile, integrates computer-generated information like video, graphics and GPS with our view of the real world. Professor Mark Billinghurst, joint director of the Wearable Computer Lab at the University of South Australia, says there are valuable applications for augmented reality in healthcare and emergency services.
“Most augmented reality today is found in handheld devices like the iPhone, but soon there will be a focus on wearable augmented reality devices like glasses or watches,” he says.
One of Mark’s prototype tools are Empathic Glasses – a pair of glasses that can be remotely accessed to display data to the person wearing them. They’re unique because they also track the facial expressions of the wearer, so emotional responses like stress can be measured.
“If a person is engaged in a stressful task like an emergency rescue, the glasses can access remote assistance to help them,” Mark explains.
Mark says uni students today are well placed to build augmented reality products, and he encourages creative thinkers to enter the field.
“Other than engineering, you’ll need skills in design and programming. These are now being taught in unis, so it’s easy for people to get involved.”
For example, the Data to Decisions Cooperative Research Centre (D2DCRC) is a research hub that focuses on how we can best use the world’s vast amount of data, especially in improving cybersecurity.
D2DCRC offers internship projects for undergrad and postgrad students – for example, finding ways to predict civil unrest events like riots using social media data.
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Mechatronics engineer, bioinformatician, biomedical engineer, virtual-reality product developer + more!
Engineering (Computer) (Hons)/Computer Science, University of Newcastle
Engineering (Hons)/Computer Science, UNSW Australia
Engineering (Computer Systems Engineering)/Science (Computer Science),
Engineering (Computer Systems) (Hons), University of Adelaide
Author: STEM Contributor
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