With £5m funding from the UK Space Agency in partnership with NHS England and the European Space Agency, and a brief to turn technology originally designed for space into medical applications, innovators have developed a cloud-based AI system for detecting bowel cancer and an app to help exercisers avoid pollution.
Early diAgnosis Real-Time Healthcare System for CANcer (EARTH SCAN), a cloud-based AI developed by researchers at University College London to support doctors in identifying bowel cancer, received a £1m share of the funding. EARTH SCAN requires secure, high-speed satellite communications and tailored data compression software normally used for space missions. Peter Mountney of Odin Vision, the UCL spinout bringing the system to market, said: “We are moving into a new era of healthcare where artificial intelligence will support doctors to identify and diagnose cancer faster and more effectively. The EARTH SCAN project is an exciting opportunity to use satellite technology to bring this AI support to doctors in real time. Real-time support means doctors can make immediate decisions regarding treatment and patients can receive the results of their scan straight away instead of waiting weeks.”
“P-STEP AND EARTH SCAN to address health issues.“
Personalised Space Technology Exercise Platform (P-STEP), which combines Earth observation satellite data with AI to map pollution hotspots, was developed at the University of Leicester, and received £2m of the funding on offer. This platform also considers conditions that could be exacerbated by pollution, like asthma, and emits local warnings that are accurate to within 10 metres. Professor Andre Ng from the University of Leicester, said: “Whilst we know physical activity is good for many patients with long term conditions including heart and lung diseases, clinicians are often anxious about recommending exercise and often unable to prescribe accurate and effective exercise for their patients. We will develop a patient-centred mobile app that takes in satellite data with unique resolution including that of air quality that delivers precise guideline-based exercise advice tailored to their condition and ability. This greatly enhances the confidence of both healthcare professionals to prescribe and patients to put into practice, effective physical activity which improves well-being and reduces healthcare utilisation.”