Incredibly Exciting Future for Medical Robots

Da Vinci Xi-mit OP Team

Medical Robotics Has an ‘Incredibly Exciting’ Future, Predict Experts
In the near future, surgeries will include enhanced imaging, greater autonomy, and optimized learning, said experts at the Hamlyn Symposium on Medical Robotics.

Technological development is leading to an “incredibly exciting” future for medical robots, predicted delegates at the annual Hamlyn Symposium on Medical Robotics. The event, held at the Royal Geographical Society in London, featured an impressive lineup of leading scientists and engineers in medical robotics and related technologies.

Participants came from some of the most prominent medical robotics companies worldwide. They included Brian Miller of Intuitive Surgical, Frederic Moll of Auris Surgical Robotics, Michael Otto of KUKA, Yulun Wang of InTouch Health, Martin Frost of Cambridge Medical Robotics, and Bradley Nelson of Aeon Scientific.

These six experts also attended an inaugural CEO and Founder’s Forum, where they shared their experiences, as well as the challenges and solutions they have identified along the way.

According to Erh-Ya (Asa) Tsui, research group officer in the Hamlyn Centre at Imperial College London, the forum provided “unique insights into the medical robotics industry, their journey of bringing new products to market, and the importance of integrating engineering, clinical and business innovation.”

The main discussions of the session covered the technical approaches taken by each company and how they addressed the innovation and clinical translation. The six also talked about their successes, obstacles and failures, as well as how medical robotics might respond to future clinical needs.

“Compared to previous years, the number of workshops at this year’s symposium grew significantly and covered a range of basic sciences and allied engineering topics in medical robotics, said Tsui. “They ranged from Learning and Autonomy for Medical Robotics, Brain-Computer Interfacing, and Deep Learning for Medical Robotics to Implantable Sensors and Robotics, Micro-Robotics and Drug Delivery, and Wearable and Assistive Robots.”

Improving patient care

Brian Miller, senior vice president and general manager of systems and vision at Intuitive Surgical, described the medical robotics symposium as an important forum in which to “exchange ideas, encourage innovation, and discuss the importance of technologies like robotic-assisted surgery and the increasing role they do — and will continue to — play in healthcare.”

The future of robotic-assisted surgery is incredibly exciting
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“The future of robotic-assisted surgery is incredibly exciting,” he said. “It has significant potential to contribute to improving patient care, benefit the next generation of surgeons, and increase the efficiency of hospital teams.”

In the near future, robotic-assisted surgery will continue to embrace and integrate advancements in a number of key areas, Miller predicted. Such technologies include enhanced imaging, intelligent systems, less-invasive approaches, data analytics, and training and optimized learning.

“We anticipate the increasing ability of surgeons and their teams to incorporate online training, more use of training simulators, and the ability to include personalized imaging of their patients to allow them to better prepare for, and even practice, their procedures in advance,” he added.

Grounded in clinical practice

The role of medical robotics must be firmly established in clinical practices, said Prof. Guang-Zhong Yang, director and co-founder of the Hamlyn Centre for Robotic Surgery and deputy chairman of the Institute of Global Health Innovation at Imperial College London.

This is necessary, he said, “both in terms of patient acceptance and clinical value for certain procedures,” he said. “It is now important to drive the technologies, not only in terms of innovation, but also in terms of cost-effectiveness and general accessibility, such that the population at large can benefit from the technologies.”

Yang also noted that he expects an increasing focus on the use of medical robotics for precision surgery. This should help to reduce costs and improve the quality of life after surgery, Yang said.

Looking ahead for medical robotics

Challenges for robot-assisted surgery include increasing levels of autonomy, as well as the associated legal and ethical barriers that need to be overcome for medical robots.

“In this conference, researchers have already focused on the use of new materials for developing future generations of robots, and such interaction with the basic sciences disciplines will intensity in future years,” said Yang.

“The Surgical Robot Challenge we organize each year has shown maturity in terms of the entries submitted,” he said. “Many already have first-in-human studies, highlighting the momentum behind medical robotics development.”

“The event will be part of the 2019 UK Robotics Week, which will continue to shine a spotlight on the diverse range of developments in the general area of robotics and how the UK is pushing ahead the frontiers in some of the key technological developments,” Yang said.

Note: This article is originally published @

Andrew Williams is European Editor for Robotics Business Review. He is a freelance science and technology journalist based in Cardiff, Wales. His writing has featured in a wide range of publications, including Physics World, Chemistry World, Engineering & Technology, and NASA Astrobiology Magazine.



Is Your Child Addicted to Smartphone?

IS Your Child Addicted to Smartphone?

Half of parents worry that tech undermines a child’s healthy development.

Computer addicted child holding out tablet pc and crying
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Are you worried that your child is “addicted” to their smart phone or tablet? If so, you would not be alone. In a January, 2018 survey of 1,024 parents with children younger than 18, 47 percent of parents feel that their child is “addicted” to their mobile device. Interestingly, 32 percent of those parents said the same about themselves.

Addiction to tech devices is more serious for children. Electronic screens are so alluring that it’s difficult for the child to turn to something else—thus, the child can easily become addicted to the screen.

YouTube is a big factor in parents’ worries. Although YouTube offers parental controls, just 40 percent of parents surveyed take advantage of them.

The latest worry for parents comes from Facebook, which recently launched “Messenger Kids,” the first app designed specifically for children. Around 100 child advocates and experts have urged Facebook to discontinue this app over concerns that it will “undermine children’s healthy development.”

In a letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, these experts wrote: “Younger children are simply not ready to have social media accounts.” Kids “are not old enough to navigate the complexities of online relationships, which often lead to misunderstandings and conflicts even among more mature users. They also do not have a fully developed understanding of privacy, including what’s appropriate to share with others and who has access to their conversations, pictures, and videos.”

Facebook, however, has done the exact opposite of what the child advocates requested. It has made the Messenger Kids app more widely available.

Facebook’s reasoning is that kids are already regularly using social media apps so why not offer their app to tap into this huge market. Recent research indicates that a whopping 93 percent of 6-12 year old kids have access to smart phones or tablets and 66 percent have their own device.

Facebook also points out that there is no advertising in their Messenger Kids app. They seek to avoid the trouble that YouTube ran into with YouTube Kids where advocates were concerned about ads on the service for products like Coca-Cola and Oreos.

Although social networking apps can keep kids and teens connected to friends and family, texts do not allow for eye contact or understanding the emotions behind the messages. Paradoxically, social media may have the effect of undermining a child’s ability for healthy social interaction. According to a 2015 Pediatrics article by Dr. Barry Zuckerman, et al, “The instant accessibility and portability of mobile devices make them potentially more likely to displace human interactions and other enriching activities.”

Fitness outdoor Games for Kids
Image Courtesy: ACE Fitness

Although the authors acknowledge that smartphones and tablets play a positive role in distracting children during medical and surgical procedures, the devices are too often used by parents as a “shut-up toy” during daily routines such as errands, car rides, and eating at restaurants. Lengthy exposure to electronic screens negatively affects child development is by displacing language- and play-based interactions with caregivers and peers.

Take-aways for Parents for child mobile device use
How Can I Help My Kids Balance Real Life with Cell Phone Use?
1. Be interactive with your child. Try a game or app first and then play it with the child. Ask the child about it afterward to see what he or she is learning. Get Active: Make sure your kids do something active frequently. Even if it’s just 10 star jumps every half an hour, bodies need to move and habits form young. So get them in the habit of being active. I aim for 10 minutes of running around in every hour. It’s good to break up screen time rather than allow your kids to sit there for hours and hours.
2. Use parental controls to limit exposure to violence and pornography. Work First: If your kids have homework, reading, house work to do, make sure they do it before they get on the mobile device.
3. Use parental controls to monitor and limit the amount of time kids spend on tech devices. TOPs Balance Educational Unlock Device: When your child unlocks the device, they are given a “knowledge burst” (a 10-second infusion of grade-specific educational content) prior to unlocking the home screen. Parents can set the delivery method to either high intensity or low intensity. My son has been trying it recently and he loves it.
“Did you know that you produce 10 billion gallons of saliva in your life time?…I reckon that if you eat enough cherries, it would be purple spit!” He says as he plops another cherry into his mouth.
(The TOPs Balance app is available in both the App Store and the Google Play Store for $4.99. As an introductory offer, the app will be available for FREE at the App Store. The idea is provide educational content to help combat technology addiction and cell phone addiction )
4. Have plenty of non-tech interactive play experiences with your child like reading books to or with them, playing board games, or doing puzzles. Not Right Before Bed: Kids need sleep and screens can keep you awake. Not only do you get addicted to whatever you’re doing, the artificial light can interfere with your sleep patterns. Best not to use mobile devices for the hour before you go to sleep.
5. Arrange play dates for your child to encourage face-to-face social interaction with their peers. Set Family Rules: Perhaps they have to behave well during the week, not squabble and bicker with each other to be allowed the privileged of playing with a mobile. Or actually turn it off when their time is up. Set rules and stick to them.
6. Consider a tech “fast” for your child. Gradually remove tech devices and replace them with activities like board games, reading, swimming, bicycling, a family camping trip, etc. Keep your child away from tech devices for 2-3 weeks. You will notice the difference in their behavior. Agree Limits. When children nag it’s easy to slip into letting them spend hours and hours playing on a mobile device. If you agree what the limits are, there is no room for manoeuvre. Just calmly state the limits.
Natural Stop: My kids get so frustrated when they have to stop a game in the middle of a level. I give them a 5 minute warning before they have to stop. Enough time to get to the end of a level. When that time is over, they know they have to turn it off. And if they don’t, they get 10 minutes deducted from their next allocated session.
Family Fun Time: Spend your weekends doing fun family activities. We love roller skating, walking, swimming. Have fun being active together and your kids will get into healthy habits. Then you won’t worry about them chilling out for a bit on a mobile device.
Smart Phone Free Time: If you have older children who are more in control of their own phone, it’s good to teach them to have some smart phone free time to show them that the world does continue even when they aren’t hooked up.

A Bit of Peace and Quiet
At times I’m tempted to ban mobile devices for good. As appealing as it is, I know that I never would. I know that mobiles are educational, but you know what? I have a confession to make. Mobile devices also earn us parents a short time of peace and quiet. Why do you think my kids have got into the habit of asking for them on Saturday morning? Precisely because their exhausted parents want them to be quite for a little longer.

Remember when a “lie in” was exactly that? You could actually sleep until midmorning without a child landing on your head. Times change and now we all snuggle in bed, my husband and I, bleary eyed, sipping coffee whilst our kids battle strange monsters in silent mode.

Letting your kids play with mobile devices and earning a little well earned rest is fine, as long they don’t get addicted, as long as we can teach our kids to use mobile phones sensibly, as long as we can find balance between real life and cell phone addiction.

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Marilyn Wedge Ph.D. | Facebook
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Suffer the Children

Humans vs machines: AI and machine learning in cyber security

Artificial intelligence (AI) is at the frontier of a new techno-tsunami that is transforming the way we live and work.

Human vs Technology
Credit: Storm Ventures

“Historically, an AV researcher might see 10,000 viruses in a career. Today there are over 700,000 per day,” says Ryan Permeh, Chief Scientist of Cylance. Could AI be the solution to solving the big data problem, and bridging the widening workforce gap in the Cyber Security industry?

Intelligent machines now have the power to make observations, understand requests, reason, draw data correlations, and derive conclusions. Not only could AI help to effectively detect anomalies and tackle manpower shortage, but it could support rapid incident response operations against zero-day threats.

Is AI the answer to patching all the flaws in our security systems? Or is it making IT professionals redundant? Beyond the hype, any future-proof business must consider the applications and implications of this incoming wave.

The Power of Machine Learning

Traditionally, cyber security has relied on rules-based or signature-based pattern matching. With anti-virus (AV) for example, researchers at AV companies find malware and generate signatures that can be used to check files on an endpoint to see if they match a signature of known malware. This means that one can only detect malware that is known, and that matches a virus definition or signature.

With AI, machine learning can provide an alternative to traditional cybersecurity solutions. Instead of relying on code signatures, machines can analyze the behavior of the programme and use machine learning to find a match, where that behavior is predictive of malicious code. With 2.5 quintillion bytes of data created daily, online platforms constantly have to provide content that is relevant. Netflix does a great job at classifying movie genres and giving movie recommendations. Through machine learning, service providers like Netflix, are able to automatically categorize and offer suggestions by aggregating across the entire database of films and users.

Ability to Detect and Predict New, Complex Threats

Conventional technology is past-centric and depends heavily on known attackers and attacks, leaving room for blind spots when it comes to detecting abnormal events in new-age attacks. The limitations of older defense technologies are now being addressed through machine learning.

For example, privileged activity within an internal network can be tracked, and any sudden or significant spike in privileged access activity could denote a possible insider threat. If it is found to be a successful detection, the machine will reinforce the validity of the actions and become more sensitive to detecting similar future patterns. With larger amounts of data and examples, machines can better learn and adapt to spotting anomalies, more quickly and accurately. This is especially useful as cyber attacks are becoming increasingly sophisticated, and hackers are coming up with new and innovative approaches, of which older security technologies would be slow to detect.

Ease Burden on Cybersecurity Personnel

Machine learning is most effective as a tool when it has access to a large pool of data to learn and analyze from, reducing attack surfaces through predictive analytics. The volume of security alerts that appear daily can be very overwhelming for the security team. Automating threat detection and response helps lighten the load off of cybersecurity professionals who have to contend with prioritizing cybersecurity-related issues and can aid the detection of threats more efficiently than other software-driven methods.

As substantial quantities of security data are being generated and transferred over networks every day, it becomes progressively difficult for cybersecurity experts to monitor and identify attack elements rapidly and reliably. This is where AI can come in and expand their monitoring and detecting operations, making sense of the copious data. Machine learning can help cybersecurity personnel respond to scenarios that they have not specifically encountered before, replacing the laborious process of human analysis.

AI and machine learning also assist IT security professionals in achieving good cyber hygiene and enforces robust cybersecurity practices. The tables are turned as cybersecurity becomes less about an incessant pursuit of hunting down malicious activity, and more about continuous prevention, prediction, and improvement. It could also become a part of the solution for the widening talent gap in the cybersecurity industry.

Limitations of AI and machine learning

One of the greatest challenges would be the adoption of AI technology. For a machine learning engine to perform well, it must retrieve the right data, extract the correct features, and cast the appropriate angle on those features. If trained poorly, it will make inaccurate predictions. Such models are only as good as the data that is fed in. Companies who only do end-point detection are missing out as they lack the data required to leverage on AI.

According to research by Cylance, 62% of security experts believe that there will be an increase in AI-powered cyber attacks in the near future, and therefore, AI may be used as an intelligent cyber weapon. Bad actors could significantly develop their phishing attacks by using AI to circumvent machine learning-based phishing detection systems. In an experiment by Cyxtera, two attackers were able to use AI to improve their phishing attack effectiveness from 0.69% to 20.9%, and 4.91% to 36.28%, respectively.

Seeking Human-Machine Symbiosis

“Cyber attacks aren’t a statistical phenomenon. There is a human attacker behind these threats. We have a living and breathing adversary on the other side of the internet, coming up with new methodologies, daily,” Kevin Lee, Executive Chairman of Horangi Cyber Security.

Many cybersecurity experts have bold opinions on whether machines should be responsible to manage something as complicated as cybersecurity. According to IEEE, human and organizational responsibility for decisions should still be made by the people of the organization and its systems. Refusing to acknowledge the machine’s actions and pushing the liability on them is foolish and could give rise to a regulatory and public backlash.

Only a human can understand the business context of why an attacker might be after a piece of information and what their motivations are. Machine learning is an effective tool against both known and unknown malware, as it can identify and understand malicious activity when applied properly. However, it should not be the only solution. “The combination of human and machine is superior to machine alone or human alone,” said Lee.

Ultimately, the future requirements of cybersecurity are an interplay of advances in technology, legal and human factors, and mathematically verified trust. Effective cybersecurity should be about striking a balance between human and machines. Where computers cannot, humans make sense of the data by ensuring machine-suggested actions have business value too. Humans bring the business, legal, and commercial value into decisions, whilst machines have the capacity and speed to analyze and interpret big chunks of data. Both human intelligence and artificial intelligence must work symbiotically for optimal results. This is the way towards a comprehensive solution that protects against the full spectrum of threats facing today’s businesses.

Estelle Chiu is the Customer Success Manager at Horangi Cyber Security

Source: networksasia

New Technology Can be About Trust

New technology can be about trust, Tendeka director says

Davor Saric-Tendeka
Image Credit:

Digital age, artificial intelligence and machine learning are topics that have been discussed at length by the oil and gas industry.

As the car industry brings autonomous vehicles to the roads, our sector is embracing the advances in all aspects of digital, on a premise of the benefits it can bring.

However, I believe that we already have most of what it takes to be called digitalised.

At Tendeka, we have autonomous inflow control devices (AICDs) that adjust themselves based on the dynamic production environment downhole.

We already have technology that successfully conveys the downhole data to surface wirelessly (award-winning PulseEight technology), we have the cloud-based operating environment (DataServer) and we are working on intelligent algorithms for data analysis that will assist engineers in informed and proficient decision-making.

This will inherently result in more effective day-to-day operations, production and, ultimately, better reservoir recovery. From the reservoir to the point of sale, technology that delivers a significant amount of data from key points of the hydrocarbon recovery system is already present.

In fact, there is an enormous amount of data out there already, neatly collected and stored ready to be analysed. The oil and gas industry has always been a data industry.
What seems to be lacking, especially with data from downhole environments where it matters most for efficient recovery, is manipulation and analysis of that information resulting in a clear, bespoke, fit-for-purpose solution. Solutions may take the form of an automated warning, a visualisation of a trend that prompts an action or an instruction to remotely control the tool that regulates the flow or even an innovation of a new tool.

Whatever the solution, these “decision helpers and enablers” should become an integral part of our engineering workflows.

But can we trust the robot? Can we trust an Artificial Intelligence or autonomous tool to decide and/or control processes and equipment?

Can we put our trust in such technology even if it can result in better and optimised performance, when offset against ever-present risk and high “dollar per barrel” operations?

A recent study found pedestrians are not so comfortable when faced with a prospect of crossing the street in front of autonomous cars.

The solution was the installation of LED screens that mimic the human eyes, which establish an “eye contact” as pedestrians cross in front.

The results of repeated study showed greatly improved trust and confidence. We are aware that autonomous vehicles will improve road safety and quality of life, but our acceptance of it still depends on our perception, confidence and risk.

I believe that the oil and gas industry is not so dissimilar.

We need to learn to trust innovative digital solutions and innovative tools to deliver more effective energy recovery from our planet.

Of course, trust is not a given, but with proven data, in-depth understanding and an open mindset to new techniques, our industry should embrace innovation and change.

The benefits will speak for themselves.

Davor Saric, technology director, Tendeka

Written by Davor Saric – 08/11/2018 6:00 am

Digital life stories spark joy in people with dementia

I was sitting on the sofa across from Christine in her home. She offered me a cup of coffee. Each time I visited, she sat in the same spot — the place where she felt most comfortable and safe. She had shared stories from the past and decided to talk about the birth of her daughters, grandchildren and great grandchildren.

For Christine, a research participant in a multi-sited study into dementia and digital storytelling, the fear dementia brings is that she won’t be able to be a part of special moments such as the celebration of birth.

As we worked together in Edmonton, creating a multimedia story from her memory, Christina started to remember new things. She became emotional when she talked about her daughters becoming mothers themselves. She pointed out that the project was so much more powerful than looking through a photo album. Like many participants, she said she recalled stories she hadn’t thought about for years.

As a post-doctoral fellow in occupational therapy under the supervision of Dr. Lili Liu, at the University of Alberta I worked with several participants in this study. Funded by the Canadian Consortium on Neurodegeneration in Aging, one of our goals was to investigate quality of life and how technology affects the lived experiences of persons with dementia.

Technology and quality of life

In this research project we defined digital storytelling as using media technology — including photos, sound, music and videos — to create and present a story.

Most previous research on digital storytelling and dementia has focused on the use of digital media for reminiscence therapy, creating memory books, or enhancing conversation. Collaboratively creating personal digital stories with persons with dementia is an innovative approach, with only one similar study found in the United Kingdom.

During this project, I met with seven participants over eight weeks. Our weekly sessions included a preliminary interview to discuss demographics and past experiences with technology. Then we worked on sharing different meaningful stories, selecting one to focus on and building and shaping the story. This included writing a script, selecting music, images and photographs and editing the draft story.

“I was blessed with wonderful parents, and I was a mistake,” begins Myrna Caroline Jacques, 77, a grandmother of five.

Participants worked on a variety of topics. Some told stories about family and relationships, while others talked about a particular activity or event that was important to them. After all participants completed their digital stories, we had a viewing night and presented the stories to family members.

Happiness in the moment

It was an intense process. Eight sessions working one-on-one with persons with dementia required a significant amount of thinking, remembering and communicating for the participants. There were challenges, such as when participants found themselves unable to express their thoughts or remember details.

In this digital story, Christine Nelson talks of her love for her children and her fear of forgetting special moments.

Although many participants were tired after a session, they all felt that it was a beneficial and meaningful activity. Working in their homes on a personally gratifying activity with a tangible outcome seemed to keep them motivated and eager to continue. The process was also enjoyable and gave the participants something to look forward to each week.

There was a sense of happiness in the moment. And the way that participants responded to me, along with their ability to remember who I was and the purpose of our sessions, all indicated a deeper positive connection. The participants all felt a sense of accomplishment and family members were proud to see the end product at the viewing night.

Into the future

I have met with one of the research participants again recently, and she still remembers me. I would like to follow up with the others to get a sense of the long term impact of this digital storytelling project. I am also eager to see how the findings in Edmonton line up with those from the studies in Vancouver and Toronto.

For the participants, talking about memories helped them open up about having dementia. Getting past the fear and looking ahead with optimism was the message I heard, and one that I hope to keep hearing.

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