Mining industry looks to improve health and safety through virtual reality
Historically known for its brute workforce and dangerous working conditions, the mining industry is coming full circle as it currently seeks to integrate cutting-edge technologies in order to improve overall mine health and safety. The industry’s training tool of choice: virtual reality.
According to Mining Global, the futuristic technology will massively improve training procedures as it will plug employees into situations that can’t be recreated in real life, such as an underground fire or gas explosion, and train them how to properly respond.
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Mines Rescue, a business unit of Coal Services, has launched its own virtual reality training center in New South Wales, equipped with a 360 degree view of screens, showcasing accurate and realistic mine setting underground.
“It puts them in situations that can’t be replicated in the real world,” said Steve Tonegato, State Operations Manager of Mines Rescue.
“You can’t light fires underground, you can’t have smoke coming at you, and you can’t put people in high pressure situations in real mines where they have to make decisions, but you can do that here.”
More than just a simulator, Mines Rescue has built a fully operating mine with over 50 kilometers of virtual roadway, covering all regular mining methods based off real terrain data.
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“Mixed reality is something that is very unique. People see a lot of virtual reality, especially in gaming which has sensational graphics, but this is a place where not only does everything look real but you can also interact,” said Tonegato.
The virtual reality training can be customized to incorporate a variety of mining assets and equipment, including dangers to better improve response times.
“What this allows us to do is move these assets to wherever we want within the virtual reality world and set them on fire, create accidents, create smoke, to give training participants a full emergency experience,” Tonegato said.
“Everything you see in an underground mine, from dolly cars to conveyors to longwalls is replicated here.
Virtual reality has the potential to significantly improve training and recourse action in mining, cultivating new generations of miners.
Skin Analytics wins NHSX award for AI skin cancer tool
An artificial intelligence-driven tool that identifies skin cancers has received an award from NHSX, the NHS England and Department of Health and Social Care's initiative to bring technology into the UK's national health system.
NHSX has granted the Artificial Intelligence in Health and Care Award to DERM, an AI solution that can identify 11 types of skin lesion.
Developed by Skin Analytics, DERM analyses images of skin lesions using algorithms. Within primary care, Skin Analytics will be used as an additional tool to help doctors with their decision making.
In secondary care, it enables AI telehealth hubs to support dermatologists with triage, directing patients to the right next step. This will help speed up diagnosis, and patients with benign skin lesions can be identified earlier, redirecting them away from dermatology departments that are at full capacity due to the COVID-19 backlog.
Cancer Research has called the impact of the pandemic on cancer services "devastating", with a 42% drop in the number of people starting cancer treatment after screening.
DERM is already in use at University Hospitals Birmingham and Mid and South Essex Health & Care Partnership, where it has led to a significant reduction in unnecessary referrals to hospital.
Now NHSX have granted it the Phase 4 AI in Health and Care Award, making DERM available to clinicians across the country. Overall this award makes £140 million available over four years to accelerate the use of artificial intelligence technologies which meet the aims of the NHS Long Term Plan.
Dr Lucy Thomas, Consultant Dermatologist at Chelsea & Westminster Hospital, said: “Skin Analytics’ receipt of this award is great news for the NHS and dermatology departments. It will allow us to gather real-world data to demonstrate the benefits of AI on patient pathways and workforce challenges.
"Like many services, dermatology has severe backlogs due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This award couldn't have come at a better time to aid recovery and give us more time with the patients most in need of our help.”