The development of artificial intelligence (AI) is experiencing a boiling moment. According to the report on Digital Society in Spain in 2019, by the Fundación Telefónica, one in 12 European startups that year focused their activity around this technology, a proportion that in 2013 was only one in 50.
The majority work around to the category that the report defines as “necessary”: they develop systems around facial recognition, e-commerce search or imaging and medical diagnostics. This last typology, that of health technologies, brings together a fifth of emerging companies.
It is precisely in the field of health that some of the applications with the greatest practical impact are taking place. Sherpa.ai , a Basque artificial intelligence company –considered among the 10 most important in the world in this field by various specialized publications–, has developed a platform so that health authorities can estimate the number of ICU beds needed throughout a week.
An essential calculation for hospital logistics and to avoid the overflow scenes that were experienced in some territories.
“We believed that artificial intelligence could be important to combat the pandemic and we began to work hand in hand with the Basque Health Service,” explains Xabi Uribe-Etxebarria, founder and CEO of the company.
The Sherpa.ai team began to shape a predictive model by feeding it with data from Italy, the only ones existing at that time, originating from regions similar in demography to the Basque Country. “First we calculate the data by province and by hospital,” continues Uribe-Etxebarria.
“Later we created a platform that could be consulted virtually and we added functionalities. For example, how would the number of deaths and the number of infected evolve or where would the new outbreaks of the pandemic be “.
The platform calculates the number of ICU beds needed within seven days and analyzes patterns and trends in the evolution of the virus, a fundamental aspect so that health workers can react in time. It also predicts the number of mild hospitalizations, which would allow, for example, to set up a specific hospital for this class of patients.
“The ICUs have not been saturated. The work of the health authorities and the health service has been tremendous. We have all gone out of our way to do this in weeks, ”Uribe-Etxebarría rejoices.
Sherpa.ai develops conversational systems, recommendation, content analysis and detection of fake news and application of artificial intelligence in data privacy.
“We are at the beginning of a new era in which we will coexist with AI. Many times we associate it with futuristic robots, but it is applied in everyday life and has the ability to solve urgent challenges for humanity ”, he argues.
“It is present when we unlock the mobile with the fingerprint or facial recognition, when we pay for parking and the barrier is opened, or in health applications that detect cancers. It is a complement to the human, not a substitute ”.
Francisco Herrera, professor of Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence at the University of Granada, set a simple goal for his work: that anyone, through a simple X-ray, could know if they had covid-19 or not.
To do this, together with the San Cecilio de Granada Clinical Hospital, its team works with a database of hundreds of X-rays, both of sick and healthy patients. A sea of information from which the AI will learn which radiographs correspond to sick patients, and to what degree, to later be able to analyze any new image.
“The hospital began to make a database of images of patients with a positive PCR test performed, thereby guaranteeing the quality of the sample. On the other hand, we had a set of healthy lung contrast, with a guarantee that there was no covid-19, ”Herrera added.
Currently, the model determines by 81% if a patient has coronavirus. The main advantage of the system is that it works with chest x-rays, a rapid test available throughout the health system, something that would improve diagnostic times.
With a CT test, accuracies of more than 90% are obtained, the scientist warns, but it is much more expensive and is only available in large hospitals.
“We want anyone who lives in a town to come to the health center, have an X-ray and that image is analyzed by our system, which will respond with the probability of associated disease,” Herrera details.
“Then the complementary tests will be requested and the relevant protocols will be activated.”
The more radiographs, the professor explains, the better the algorithm’s learning and the better the model’s behavior. Herrera underlines the importance of the quality of the images that feed the base.
“If you take X-rays from different hospitals, the annotations or colors may vary,” he says. “You have to segment the image and keep the part that collects the lungs to avoid any type of noise.”
The project, at the moment, has seven research teams and six associated hospitals. Herrera hopes that other hospitals will join soon.
Asian people waiting for body temperature check before access to building for against epidemic flu covid19 or corona virus from wuhan in office by thermoscan or infrared thermal camera
By now, anyone has passed a temperature control that, in addition, is capable of recognizing the identity of the user and discerning if they are wearing a mask.
These operations are also based on artificial intelligence, a technology that is already widely used to guarantee safety in work centers, shops and public places.
“The algorithms can detect situations that go beyond the pre-established, such as crowds, objects that remain immobile in high traffic areas or even breaches of social distancing,” explains Iñaki San Román, Prosegur’s Artificial Intelligence manager.
The incorporation of AI in the field of security allows security guards to operate with a large number of cameras or alarms.
AI is being joined by another technology: data science, a system that analyzes large volumes of information to predict patterns or failures, a way to, for example, know in advance when alarm peaks will occur at the central station.
In addition to the field of security, there are AI application lines focused on the world of retail with which it is tried to help customers improve their sales.