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Africa innovation cup shines spotlight on new medical tech

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A change in the way we see, and deliver, healthcare has been a burgeoning investment in start-ups in the sector. In 2017 alone, the estimated global investment in healthcare start-ups sat at around $12 billion.

Some of the brightest and best ideas transforming healthcare have been born on our continent: Drones delivery of medical supplies, systems that transform diagnosis and apps that connect remote medical workers to resources at nearby hospitals.

This year’s Africa Cup finalists include some of this next generation of innovative healthcare start-ups who all share the same sentiment: They believe the continent’s healthcare issues can be solved by using technology.

The next generation of new ideas

The SA Innovation Summit’s Africa Cup is open to innovative ideas, start-ups and early-stage companies in tech and tech-enabled sectors. Finalists will pitch their businesses in front of an esteemed panel of judges on the final day of the Summit, with the winner set to receive a R5 million investment offer and three weeks of acceleration.

The cup has 11 finalists from a range of categories, including Fintech, Big Data, Social Entrepreneurship and Healthcare. The three healthcare finalists are:

Curacel, a Nigerian AI-driven platform, that fast tracks claim processing and detects fraudulent claims for health insurance companies. Curacel provides a web application to health insurance companies for collecting, processing, and paying health claims.

South African-born BIIS has developed Cyber Guardian, an early depression detector mobile application built on machine learning algorithm. Cyber Guardian uses access to end user’s mobile device activities such as social media lifestyle, chats, searches and emails to analyse an individual’s mental health.

Proudly South African 3D Prosthetic Hand is a low-cost, robotic prosthetic hand which senses the intention of the user, allowing them to hold a variety of objects as well as do intricate tasks like tie their shoelaces. The machine learning techniques enable the amputee to feel the objects they are holding.

 Over 80% of start-ups at the SA Innovation Summit competitions are from the continent, and the majority have a revenue of less than R2 million, explains SA Innovation Summit chairperson Audrey Verhaeghe. Of the entrants, 7% are in the field of Biotech (healthcare) and 22% are classified as social entrepreneurs.

The Summit, taking place from Wednesday 11 to Friday 13 September 2019 at the Cape Town Stadium, aims to facilitate more than R1bn in deals between investors and start-ups.

“There is a yearning among African start-ups to disrupt the current healthcare industries on the continent through technology and innovative ideas. The healthcare industry is ripe for disruption and investors should be looking to the next generation of innovators for the ideas that will transform our continent,” says Verhaeghe.

Healthcare from the heart

One of the reasons the healthcare industry is perfect for tech disruption, is that many start-ups are driven by passion, with their founders looking to address a need close to their hearts.

Henry Mascot, co-founder and CEO of Curacel, developed a passion for healthcare at a young age after feeling helpless when he lost his father due to a “moribund healthcare system”. For Mascot, technology is the key to help Africa solve its healthcare challenges.

“We can see the massive impact of mobile phones in Africa. I am a big believer that for healthcare’s issues some can be leapfrogged using technology. We have limited resources and cannot follow the path other parts of the world used in getting to where they got to. We have to be lean, agile and leverage technology to build better healthcare systems that mirror African cultural behaviours,” he says.

3D Prosthetic Hand was also born as a passion project, says Project leader and Biomedical Engineer Abdul-Khaaliq Mohamed, after encountering many people in wheelchairs and those who have lost limbs.

“Our education and professional journeys have led us to apply cutting-edge technology to benefit the human body. Our 3D prosthetic hand simply aids upper limb amputees to do everyday activities again as well as hobbies which they have had to put on pause,” he says.

BIIS’ Khutso Bapela believes technology provides efficient solutions to improve quality of life on the continent.

Through our company we were able to contribute to the development of a variety of technologies that are currently improving how we live on a daily basis. Technology has been consistent in providing high quality healthcare and has played a crucial role in taking precautionary measures. A human life is a precious gift and once it’s gone, no one can retrieve it.”

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Security gets an upgrade – with a few glitches

Video doorbells are all the rage in the USA. Can they work in South Africa? SEAN BACHER tries out the Ring Video DoorBell 2 and Floodlight Cam.

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IP cameras have become synonymous with both business and home security. They are readily available, fairly inexpensive and, in many cases, easy to install.

Many are wireless, allowing one to place the camera anywhere within Wi-Fi range. As a result, they are a solution that can be customised to suit any type of security situation.

A world leader in doorbell security, Amazon subsidiary Ring, has recently extended its range of security devices, which now includes doorbells, floodlights, and Wi-Fi extenders, all designed to enhance and complement existing security beams and electric fences.

First up is the Ring Video DoorBell 2

It doesn’t look much like your normal intercom system, except for the miniature eye that keeps track of mischief that may be happening.  

Setting up is fairly easy. All one needs to do is connect it to the network by pushing the connect button, create an account on the downloaded smartphone app and get started with customisation and certification. Features like sensitivity, alerts, and numbers where these alerts need to be sent can all be preprogrammed. It is then just a matter of positioning the doorbell to get the best video coverage.

Getting the correct position may take some time, though, as cars and pedestrians may set it off. 

Next up is the Floodlight Cam

This works much the same as the doorbell. However, it needs to be mounted to a wall. Ring has you covered there: in the box you will find drill bits, screws and even a screwdriver to help you secure the camera. 

You will have to set alerts, phone numbers, and sensitivity. The spotlight allows you to change what time it should light up and shut down, and the package also includes an alarm, should its beams be broken.

Although this all sounds good, there are a few drawbacks to the Ring solutions. Firstly, unlike the United States, where doorbells are stuck in the vicinity of a front door, allowing them to connect to a network easily, many houses in South Africa have gates that need to be opened before one can reach the front door. This means that the bells are on or near the gate, and they are unable to connect to a home or business network.

Now, however, Ring has launched a Wi-Fi extender, but this requires an additional set-up process – and a fairly expensive one, considering the camera cost.

The Ring devices come with Protection Plans that automatically upload any triggered recordings to the cloud, allowing you to view them at a later stage. This trial period only lasts for 30 days, after which the plans can be extended from R450 for a three month period, up to R1 500 for a twelve-month period.

In practice

The attention to detail in the packaging and the addition of the tools really does put the Ring in a class of its own. No short cuts were taken in its design, and you can immediately see that it’s no rip-off. However, the Protection Plans need to be looked at carefully in terms of their costs.

Aside from this challenge, I found the devices very handy inside my house. For instance, a few times my external alarm or fence would sound, at which stage I would get a notification from my armed response – while I was away. But I easily logged in to Ring from my phone to check if anything strange was happening – all in a matter of seconds and while I was sitting all the way in Berlin.

The devices are rather expensive, though, with the Video Door Bell starting at R3 500 and going up to R7 990, and the Floodlight Cam going for R5 000. It all adds up quickly.

The cost means these solutions may not be quite ready for the South African consumer looking for a complete external perimeter security system.

Despite the Protection Plans, I did find them very handy inside my house. For instance, a few times my external alarm or fence would sound, at which stage I would get a notification from my armed response.

But, I easily logged in to Ring from my phone to check if anything strange was happening – all in a matter of seconds and while I was sitting all the way in Berlin.

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It’s not a ‘techlash’ – it’s a ‘tech clash’

By RORY MOORE, Innovation Lead, Accenture South Africa

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People’s love for technology has let businesses weave it, and themselves, into our lives, transforming how we work live and interact in this new world which we at Accenture are referring to – in our Tech Vision 2020 – as the “post-digital era.” But now we are being held back.

At a time when people see the potential of embracing technology more deeply into their lives, systems and services built for a old era are not supporting where people want to go. The next five years will see radical transformation as technology is realigned to better reflect people’s needs and values.

We look at the latest emerging trends that will transform how we live in work in this fundamentally different post-digital world.
Tech trend 1: “The I in experience” – helping people choose their own adventure

The next generation of technology-driven experiences will be those that make the user an active participant in creating the experience. Businesses are increasingly looking to personalise and individualise experiences to a greater degree than ever before, but are faced with stricter data regulations and users that are wary of services being too invasive. To address this, leading businesses are changing the paradigm and making choice and agency a central component of what they deliver.

Tech trend 2: “Artificial intelligence (AI) and me” – reimagining business through human and AI collaboration

Businesses will have to tap the full potential of AI by making it an additive contributor to work, rather than a backstop for automating boring or repetitive tasks. Until now, enterprises have been using AI to automate parts of their workflows, but as AI capabilities grow, following the old path will limit the full benefit of AI investments, potentially marginalise people, and cap businesses’ ability for growth. Businesses must rethink the work they do to make AI a generative part of the process. To do so, they will have to build new capabilities that improve the contextual comprehension between people and machines.

Tech trend 3: “The dilemma of smart things” – overcoming the “beta burden”

As enterprises convert their products into platforms for digital experiences, new challenges arise that, if left unaddressed, will alienate customers and erode their trust. Now that the true value of a product is being driven by the experience, a facet of the product that enterprises have traditionally retained strict control over, businesses must re-evaluate central questions: how involved they are with the product lifecycle, how to maintain transparency and continuity over product features, when is a product truly “finished”, and even who owns it?

Tech trend 4: “Robots in the wild” – growing businesses’ reach and responsibility

Robotics are no longer contained to the warehouse or factory floor. Autonomous vehicles, delivery drones, and other robot-driven machines are fast entering the world around us, allowing businesses to extend this intelligence back into the physical world. As 5G is poised to accelerate this trend, every enterprise must begin to re-think their business through the lens of robotics. Where will they find the most value, and what partners do they need to unlock it? What challenges will they face as they undergo this transformation, and what new responsibilities do they have towards their customers and society at large?

Tech trend 5: “Innovation DNA” – creating an engine for continuous innovation

Businesses should assemble their unique innovation DNA to define how their enterprises grow in the future. Maturing digital technology is making it easier than ever before to transform parts of the business, or find new value in share tools with others. The three key building blocks of innovation DNA are:
Continue on the digital transformation journey
Accelerate research and development (R&D) of scientific advancements and utilise elements such as material sciences and genomic editing to ensure practical applications are leaving these labs quicker than ever before
Leverage the power of DARQ (distributed ledger technology, AI, extended reality and quantum computing) to transform and optimise the business
Differentiation in the post-digital era will be driven by the powerful combinations of innovation and these building blocks will enable exactly that.

It’s not a “techlash”, it’s a “tech-clash”

Essentially, this new digital world is more intimate and personal than ever imaginable, but the models for data, ownership, and experience that define that world have remained the same.

Tech-clash is a clash between old models that are incongruous with people’s expectations. The time to start transformation is now. To this end, businesses need to defuse the tech-clash, build human-centered models and foster deeply trusting relationships.

For more information on how Accenture can help enterprises adopt the latest tech trends to future-proof their businesses in the post-digital era, go to: https://www.accenture.com/za-en.

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