Service industry gets digital helping hand

Dr Khor (centre), Prof Wong (2nd from right) and Mr Tan (right) finding out more about NUS spin-off MediLOT

NUS Enterprise — the University’s entrepreneurial arm — collaborated with Nikkei Robotics and Nikkei Asian Review for the first time to organise NIKKEI X NUS Enterprise Digitalization Forum 2018 on 8 May at Shaw Foundation Alumni House. Themed “AI X Robotics Solutions for Service Innovation”, the event saw experts from Singapore and Japan sharing their experiences and knowledge on trends in the field.

Dr Amy Khor, Senior Minister of State for Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources and Ministry of Health, graced the occasion as Guest-of-Honour. In her opening address, she said, “The latest advancements in AI and robotics have the potential to innovate the way businesses provide services. This brings many opportunities to apply them in many areas such as healthcare, nutrition and other realms of medical technology.”

She highlighted several applications of artificial intelligence (AI) in healthcare, such as Singapore Eye LEsioN Analyser, also known as SELENA. Developed by NUS Computing, Singapore National Eye Centre and Singapore Eye Research Institute, SELENA is a digital retinopathy detection software that leverages AI and deep learning techniques to screen eyes for diabetes-related complications, glaucoma and age-related macular degeneration. She added that SELENA has demonstrated good diagnostic accuracy and will soon be commercialised. Another innovation is Food(Ig), an application developed by NUS Smart Systems Institute (SSI) which identifies food types based on images taken by the user and also tracks and analyses nutrient intake.

Within NUS Enterprise’s ecosystem, we have already started to see some start-ups emerging in the area of using AI to solve problems.

In his welcome address, NUS Business Professor Wong Poh Kam, Senior Director at NUS Entrepreneurship Centre said that AI was transforming the way people live and work. “Within NUS Enterprise’s ecosystem, we have already started to see some start-ups emerging in the area of using AI to solve problems. This could be in the form of service robots for hotels; chatbots for customer service and automated job interviews; facial recognition technology for the travel and tourism industry; and visual search technology for e-commerce,” he elaborated.

Professor Ooi Beng Chin, NUS Distinguished Professor of Computer Science and SSI Director touched on the factors driving the resurgence of deep learning, namely the availability of vast amounts of labelled data, increased number of layers providing better accuracy and better hardware to train complex models. He offered several examples of how AI can be applied to healthcare, including NUS spin-off MediLOT, a platform utilising dual blockchain to incorporate AI and data analytics to provide a readily available comprehensive patient history, along with predictive models that can offer customised treatment strategies.


Prof Ooi spoke about how AI could be applied to healthcare

As part of a case study panel, Mr Kelvin Tan, NUS Enterprise Programme Director and SSI Director of Business Development and Duke-NUS Medical School Associate Professor Marcus Ong deliberated over such topics as how AI and data can drive personalised treatment and how technology can be humanised. The question-and-answer segment saw active participation from the audience, who sought the panellists’ views on issues ranging from deterrents to adopting AI and machine learning in healthcare in Southeast Asia to educating nurses on their changing roles.


Mr Tan (2nd from left) and Assoc Prof Ong (centre) were part of the case study panel discussion

The event concluded with a presentation from Mr Laurence Liew, AI Industry Innovation Director at AI Singapore, a national programme hosted by NUS to enhance Singapore’s AI prowess to drive the digital economy. Mr Liew, who is also Industry Engagement Director at NUS Office of the Deputy President (Research & Technology), said that while AI and automation would replace some of the tasks currently undertaken by humans, it would not replace one’s job totally unless that job consisted of only one or two tasks. “But typical of a lot of us, our day job has many tasks. You need to do many things and it’s very hard for any AI system to replace us any time soon,” he said.

The event was attended by some 230 industry stakeholders involved in corporate planning, innovation, digital investment and R&D.

See media coverage.