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Analysis EO
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Analysis EO
Mar 5, 2020 11:41 am ·

Open Source, Open Mind: Baidu and LinkingMed Help Doctors in Medical Images

LinkingMed has launched its AI-based detection model for pneumonia CT-screening and prediction based on the Baidu’s PaddlePaddle (Parallel Distributed Deep Learning), EqualOcean learned from the medical imaging firm. A Hunan-based hospital affiliated to Xiangnan University became the first medical institution to use the system. This AI-equipped diagnosis system can detect and contour the lesion, picture the diagrams of the density of the two hemisphere lungs, and visualize a series of quantitative benchmarks such as quantity and volume percentage. All these tasks can be completed within less than one minute, with an accuracy rate of  92% - 97%, LinkingMed claims. So far, LinkingMed has not initiated any commercial plans for this AI-based pneumonia detection system. “The motivation to launch this AI medical diagnosis model is only to help fight against the spread of coronavirus,” Mr. Ryan Zhang, the CEO of LinkingMed, said. “We will unconditionally contribute our AI power to containing this plague, as much as we can,” he added. The high-tech medical solution provider focused on solving the compatibility issue with different types of scanning equipment by cooperating with research entities. At the development stage of the algorithm used by the system, the Xiangnan University-affiliated hospital provided professional clinical instructions regarding the data annotation, module design and set strict acceptance criteria to satisfy various medical conditions. This online AI screening system will be deployed at multiple hospitals in Hubei, Chengdu, and other severely-affected areas. Founded in 2016, LinkingMed is an AI technology enterprise in the field of oncological radiation therapy. The Beijing-based medical high-tech company sells techniques and cloud services related to the organic contour, target contour, and radiotherapy to medical institutions. By leveraging the internet and cloud platforms, it also provides remote collaboration and relevant website services for oncological doctors and physicists. During the past four years, LinkingMed has received d four funding rounds, including the recent one worth CNY 40 million in October 2019. Linear Venture is the serial investor for LinkingMed from Series Pre-A finance to the last Series A finance. Medical imaging is a niche business given lightweight and comparably less attention as Chinese medical device makers are promoting their ‘globally competitive’ strategy. Now this area is increasingly highlighted, as the novel coronavirus continues to spread and consumes a lot of medical facilities and doctors across China. The domestic high-tech medical device market rose in 2016, a fierce tussle participated by United Imaging (联影医疗), Huiyihuiying (汇医慧影) and VoxelCloud (体素科技). Most players use essentially indifferent AI technology while base the competency on different sources. These providers still need to consider some fundamental issues to apply AI in daily life. The first is developing the algorithm for the specific problem, for instance, coronavirus event. The other is high-quality data annotation, which takes time and hard work. Additionally, the lack of industry standards, quality protocols, and practice guidelines stand as the major problems ahead of the industry. For patients, time is life. CT imaging plays a critical role in identifying the infected patients, serving as a surrogate to PCR (polymerase chain reaction) diagnostic, according to a previous report. In the Huoshenshan (‘Fire God Mountain) hospital, one of the frontline hospitals, the CT lung screening by InferVision (推想科技) helped with the lab’s capacity as the number of suspected cases rose quickly.  To facilitate the detection process and guarantee the test results, LinkingMed incorporated the AI learning framework into the CT imaging process by utilizing Baidu’s PaddlePaddle. Injected with the AI’s deep-learning power, this open-source online diagnosis model can improve the efficiency and ease the pressure on the clinical doctors.  Before 2020, ‘Artificial Intelligence’ was a buzz word. Now, the outbreak of coronavirus is pushing many key industries to accelerate their AI processes, especially, in the urgent demand for medical facilities. The epidemic has forced Ali Health (阿里健康), Yitu Technology (依图科技), Huawei (华为), Deep Wise (深睿医疗), and other tech companies to introduce their AI-equipped diagnostics, in different aspects, aligning a joint wholistic force to ease the infection.  The PaddlePaddle of Baidu is an open-source deep-learning Chinese platform for industrial applications. Similar to Google’s TensorFlow, PaddlePaddle comprises core learning-framework, model bank, development tool kits, and online services supporting over 1.5 million developers in businesses.  The option to cooperate with PaddlePaddle also indicates LinkingMed’s motivation for its AI diagnostic system. “To curtail the current tension in Korea, Iran, and Japan, we want to provide technical support through Baidu’s platform for international medical institutions and developers,” says Mr. Zhang, “We also will keep an open mind to work with different medical entities, including online healthcare. The goal is to inject technology, whilst fulfilling our social responsibilities. ”

Analysis EO
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Analysis EO
May 14, 2019 01:14 am ·

Dozens of AI Companies Launch AI Chips To Win In The Future

In the past two years, dozens of companies have launched new chips to support artificial intelligence algorithms, including several AI startups, technology companies and chips manufacturers. It makes sense that chips manufacturers design new chips. But why do these AI startups and technology companies develop AI chips? The answer is that algorithm’s good performance relies on the specially designed chips to support. The traditional chips have disadvantages in high power consumption and high cost, such as CPU chips and GPU chips. Thus, these companies designed AI chips to improve the algorithm with sufficient computing capability, and reduce the cost. On May 9, Yitu Technology (依图科技), one of China’s AI leading startups, launched AI chip called QuestCore. It can be used for system on chip (SoC), and aims to be adopted in multiple application scenarios like face recognition and auto detection. QuestCore can not only run independently, but also accelerate the computing speed for AI algorithm. Other than building an accelerator in chips as many companies do, QuestCore combines AI algorithm computing requirement with CPU chip’s advantages. In addition, QuestCore can reduce the volume of servers by 4/5 which equipment QuestCore, and lower power consumption by 4/5 too. For example, an original engine room contains 5 servers and consume 20,000 watts of electricity per year. The engine room equipped by QuestCore only needs one server with 4,000 watts electricity consumption per year, which means the company can save more than CNY 100 million (USD 14.54 million) within three years. Yitu started to develop AI chips in July, 2017. At this year, the company invested ThinkForce, an AI chips design startup with comprehensive capability of chips designing. The core team members of ThinkForce come from several head chips manufacturers such as IBM, AMD, Intel, ZTE and so on. They have more than 10 years’ experience on chips design, and they have designed over 40 types of chips with mass production, which were sold up to billions of US dollars. In the procedure of QuestCore’s design, ThinkForce contributed a lot. The traditional chips global market is dominated by several American giants, including, among others, Nvidia, Intel and Qualcomm. However, new companies have opportunity in the field of AI chips. The companies that develop AI algorithm, have specific demand for AI chips and they try to adopt AI chips to multiple scenarios like autonomous driving, speech interaction system, medical imaging diagnosis and so on. Since Google equipped CPU chip in AlphaGo and won the game of weiqi with human player in 2017, many AI companies started to notice how AI chips would make a difference in the future. According to ReportLinker, a market research institution, it is expected that the global market size of AI chips will reach USD 10.8 million with a CAGR of 53.6%. For now, the companies that have launched AI chips, including Apple, Google, Tesla, Nvidia, Intel, Alibaba, Tensent, Baidu, Huawei, Cambricon, Horizon Robotics, Unisound, AISpeech and so on. CHEN Yiran (陈怡然), the professor of Department of Electronic Computer Engineering, Duke University, said in an article: There are various AI application scenarios, and the differences are obvious between algorithms. It is expected that many specially designed AI chips will emerge in the future, and many AI chips designers will come up. Founded in 2012, Yitu has grown to be a unicorn company. It has completed 5 rounds of financing worth CNY 15 billion (USD 2.18 billion). Its investors include reputable companies like Sequoia China, Banyan Capital, Hillhouse Capital, Zhen Fund and YF Capital. Yitu is known by public mainly because its face recognition system. Till now, Shanghai polices have arrested more than 60 suspects at the concert of Jacky Cheung with help of the face recognition system provided by Yitu. In addition, the company has AI abilities including computer vision, speech recognition, natural language processing, as well as AI chips design. Yitu Technology focuses on three industries: security, finance and healthcare. In 2013, the company started to develop smart camera with face recognition. Now, its smart cameras have been equipped in over 30 provinces in China, and Yitu has become the main supplier of smart cameras for Shanghai government. In 2015, Yitu applied face recognition to payment, and cooperated with several China’s banks like Agricultural Bank of China, China Merchants Bank, Shanghai Pudong Development Bank and Pingan Bank. In 2016, Yitu founded its subsidiary, Yitu Medical, to develop AI-assisted imaging diagnosis system. Its core product, Care.Ai TM, is for a variety of diseases, including lung cancer, bone age detection, pediatric intelligent diagnosis, and medical record intelligent search engine. As of January 2019, more than 50 top hospitals in China has adopted this product. According to LIN Chenxi (林晨曦), the co-founder of Yitu, has said that: Developing AI products mainly relies on the technology and innovation ability, which is different from internet products. In the era of internet, once internet giants enter a field, there will be little chances for startups, because giants have accumulated massive data and capital strength. But in the era of AI, startups have chances to develop and compete with giants, because giants don’t have data in some traditional industries such as Healthcare. So both startups and giants need to develop from zero to one.

Analysis EO
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Analysis EO
Apr 30, 2019 02:46 am ·

Chinese Had Profitable Exchanges of Privacy; Now, Doing the Same in Healthcare

A proposal by Robin Li (李彦宏) -founder of Baidu (百度) and an influential figure amongst China’s policymakers- yet again attracted the attention to the Medical Cloud. He thinks that Medical Cloud contains rich clinical data which catalyzes the research and application of electronic medical records, improving the medical system, so as to alleviate the problem of insufficient medical resources and uneven distribution between urban and rural parts of China. Indeed, launched by the Government in 2016; rights and responsibility of data collection, sharing and utilization and cloud management have been regulated, stimulated and outsourced by giving them to the third party companies and SOEs. “9) We will implement the Healthy China Cloud Service Plan, build an integrated platform for healthcare services, provide remote consultation, remote imaging, remote pathology and remote ECG diagnosis services; and improve the mutual recognition and sharing the mechanism of inspection results. We will promote data resource sharing and collaboration between large hospitals and medical institutions, general practitioners and specialists …”    A literal translation of Article 9 says that the government will collect all the medical data coming from the smallest clinic in Guizhou to the biggest hospital in Shanghai; process it and make it useful within the cloud; and give access for this data to whoever and whenever necessary; to provide a smarter healthcare services ecosystem to the public. Once again, what is seen as “personal” in the west, had not seen that private and allowed to be exchanged for the sake of other purposes in China. What is so earth-shattering about Medical Data Privacy in the West? There are a variety of reasons for placing a value on protecting the privacy, confidentiality, and security of medical data. Underlying causes are summarized as personal autonomy, individuality, respect and dignity. However, it should be noted that we all have different dignity and self-respect evolution criteria; the solemnity of these sort of “social value-based” laws are questionable. From a pragmatic point of view; the most significant reason is that if the patient does not trust the doctor, he/she will not share the reality on what has been happening in his body, which eventually results in less effective diagnosis&treatment. In fact; even the belief that the medical data is well protected and will not be disclosed without consent influences the entire process positively. Several mass medical data theft cases filed so far. Institute for Critical Infrastructure Technology stated that between 27.8 million and 67.7 million people have had their medical records stolen since they started keeping data in 2009. Medical records may include a person’s full name, address, emergency contact information, social security number, insurance details, the name of treating physicians, diagnoses, prescriptions, treatments and several other very sensitive pieces of information. This is why they are traded as a valuable asset amongst hackers and may be used in undreamed of frauds and crimes. In the U.S. medical data is protected by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) which was passed in 1996 and still the law is still in effect. HIPAA protects any information that doctors, nurses, and other health care providers put in the medical record, any conversation that doctor has about patient's care, any information about the patient in the health insurer's computer system, and any billing information about the patient. The law states that none of this information can be shared with the third parties without the patient’s consent. Although the efficiency and beneficialness of the law criticized by many; it still protects the patient’s information from any third-parties and this American approach was copied or adapted by and inspired to several other developing and developed economies in upgrading their medical data laws and regulations accordingly. We can not tell the same for the Chinese. Since the very first days of the establishment of Modern China, they have never approached to the legislation and regulation from a “copy-paste” approach; but they tailored for China, with a purely pragmatic activity-based approach. Who Process Medical Data in China? There are two types of major medical data processors in China; State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs) that possess the legal right to collect and process the mass data directly from hospitals and private companies who collect various types of data from individuals in exchange to several types healthcare services. In 2016, three SOEs were licensed and granted the right to collect the big data from China’s hospitals: China Health and Medical Big Data (中国健康医疗大数据), China Medical Big Data Industry Development Group (中国健康医疗大数据产业发展集团公司) and China Medical Big Data Technology Development Group (中国健康医疗大数据科技发展集团). (English titles were unofficially translated by the author) The detailed analysis of these SOEs activities’ are not in the scope of this article, and this article only covers the private companies whose activity scopes are med-tech, big-data, AI or/and IoT. Founded in 2015, 12Sigma (图玛深维)  is one of the first companies in China to introduce AI and deep learning into the medical image diagnosis and medical data analysis. The Company’s “Cloud Cad” product aims to provide doctors with accessing the medical image data at any time from anywhere in the world while giving an AI diagnosis help to the medical personnel who has limited technical capacity in reading the medical data of CT, MR, CR, DR, ECT, DSA, ultrasound, endoscopy, pathology and various other medical equipments. As of April 2019, the company has accumulated around CNY 200 million fundings in Series B. The company is operated from Beijing, Suzhou and San Diego offices with around 70 known employee. Founded in 2012, Yitu Tech (依图科技) is one of the most comprehensive AI companies in China with its CNY 671 Million (Series C ) cumulative fundings. They have activities in Security, Healthcare, Finance, Retail and Smart City industries. Its product “care.ai” powered by AI+Big Data; providing a supportive diagnosis and treatment platform for doctors and medical personnel. The more medical data care.ai processes and collects, the more it gets accurate. Zhejiang Provincial People’s Hospital uses Yitu’s smart medical imaging platform for the early detection of lung cancer, and another hospital in Guizhou cooperates with Yitu developing a preliminary diagnosis platform. In March 2019, Huawei and Yitu (依图科技) published the intelligent healthcare cloud co-developed by them during an AI Conference held in Fuzhou. Founded by Zhu Long (朱珑) and Lin Chenxi (林晨曦); Sequoia China and Zhen Fund back the company. The company operates in China, Singapore and the USA with around 500 employees. United Imaging (联影医疗) is yet another company that aims at launching a Medical Cloud solution for several applications. In fact, the company is one the biggest and most assertive MI, MRI, CT and Xray Machine producers globally; and it wants to convey its excess technical and financial capacity to the medical cloud application; linking regions, hospitals, and departments to achieve a high-quality medical resource-sharing in the Cloud. Not surprisingly, their cloud product “uCloud” has not yet submitted to the FDA of the US. For this product, they see China as the potential market to start with. The company raised CNY 3.3 Billion (Series A) funds and operates in the US and China with more 3000 employees. China’s internet giant Tencent’s WeDoctor and PingAn’s Good Doctor are the other massive apps that provide AI driven projects. Conclusion It is not an enigma that China needs to upgrade its data privacy regulations. The Government acknowledges the fact. Perhaps, the government currently prioritize its more significant structural healthcare problems before dealing with medical privacy. “The country will need a more comprehensive regulation and legislation in personal information and data protection. Premier Li urged all related departments to work with the National Health and Family Planning Commission (NHFPC) to further improve data protection.” stated the State Council of China. Current lax of regulation is an excellent opportunity to feed the algorithms with massive real individual data for Chinese companies. When WeChat Pay and AliPay first started to operate in China, there was no regulation to protect any personal data of the payee or the payer; moreover, these applications have started as non-licensed, non-bank financial operators. Today, their payment transactions surpassed the entire transaction volume processed within the baking system of China; creating the most advanced mobile payment ecosystem globally. In public security, Chinese gave up their privacy to the State Owned and private institutions who collect their offline online activity data to get more secure and traceable environment. In contemporary China, employing big-data and smart systems, the most crowded and complex country turns out to be one of the safest countries, globally. In Healthcare, it would be too naive to state that Chinese life expectancy will reach to that of Europeans and Japanese; but would be valid to predict that they will possess the best AI and Big Data powered med-tech solution providers.

Analysis EO
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Analysis EO
Apr 26, 2019 05:48 pm ·

Yitu's Market-driven AI Solutions Boosts the Company From China to the World

SAIL Award of AI World Innovation Challenge (AIWIN) is known as the Oscar of AI in China. In 2018, Yitu Tech (依图科技) acquired the SAIL award thanks to its Advanced Medical AI Tech, and in 2019, the company became the key partner of SAIL.  
SAIL stands for Superior, Applicative, Innovative and Leading and the awarded companies are selected once a year to stimulate technological breakthroughs and applied innovations in the world. There are solid reasons why a Medical AI company like Yitu Tech won the prize.  Artificial intelligence (AI) is an umbrella term for several computer science technologies; Medical AI generally refers to medical imaging, cancer detection, diagnostic scans, robot-assisted surgery, health monitoring, drug discovery and virtual nursing assistants. According to IP Pragmatics estimation, the global medical AI market is set for healthy growth and projected to reach more than USD 6 billion in value by 2021.  Apart from the financial benefits that are being created by the applications of medical AI, it has potential to significantly contribute the world's very problematic regions through Medical Cloud and other applications, transforming these regions and help a limited number of doctors to cure a greater number of people. However, to implement the solutions that are provided by Medical AI, there must be a necessary healthcare infrastructure already been available to build the Medical AI upon it. Therefore, Medical AI will first be implemented in the developed economies, further diverging the fundamental healthcare gap between underdeveloped and developed regions. 

“Digital health is not a silver bullet,” says Bernardo Mariano, WHO’s Chief Information Officer.  World Health Organization (WHO) sees Air Pollution, Weak primary healthcare and Vaccine Hesitancy as the biggest threats to global health in 2019. Unfortunately, digital healthcare and Medical AI have no available solutions for the fundamental problems that are mainly seen in the rural areas of Africa and South East Asia. 

China, on the other hand, is gradually getting rid of its structural healthcare problems and bolstering its healthcare capacity with AI and Medical Cloud both in its rural and urban areas. What's more, the country is slowly eluding its disastrous Air Pollution issue by stringent policies and by conveying its Dirty Industry to the less developed regions around South East Asia, such as India and Bangladesh. However, still, its ageing demographics and Rural&Urban development gaps present a potential crisis for the country. Within its complex healthcare infrastructure; Chinese medical AI companies are performing impressively in developing high-tech smart solutions in Healthcare; moreover, the country is currently applying these solutions in its countless hospitals. Medical image reading startups have already become capital chasing. According to a report issued by EO Intelligence (亿欧智库), medical image reading’s tech maturity are varied in different areas. Major startups in the area include VoxelCloud (体素科技), InferVision (推想科技), 12Sigma (图玛深维), Huiyihuiying (汇医慧影), Yitu, DeepWise (深睿医疗), Airdoc so and so forth.  These companies mostly focus on providing solutions in the early diagnoses and clinical assistance of Lung Cancer, Stroke and Coronary Diseases. 

China's hazardous air created a massive lung and coronary diseases crisis for Contemporary China. Chinese Medical AI companies have already started to cure the country's bleeding wound. The overall infrastructure is ready for Chinese companies to provide their solutions today. 

 With its CNY 670 million total funding, Yitu is the biggest one amongst China's medical AI startups. The company provides solutions in CT/X-Ray/MRI image diagnosis assistance and clinical decision support platforms. 

Lung cancer is the most common form of cancer in China, and it is difficult to detect, so the prognosis is typically not adequate. Increasing early detection is critical to reducing the mortality rate of lung cancer. Zhejiang Provincial People’s Hospital uses Yitu’s smart medical imaging platform for lung cancer for early detection. Another major problem for China is the lack of paediatricians amongst the nation. Guangzhou Women and Children’s Medical Center have cooperated with Yitu developing a preliminary diagnosis platform for patients and paediatricians. It should be noted that Guizhou is one of the least developed and most deprived provinces of China. 

 Founded by Zhu Long (朱珑) and Lin Chenxi (林晨曦) in 2012; Sequoia China and Zhen Fund back the company. Yitu provides AI solutions in Face Recognition Systems and big data real-time cloud systems for Chinese public security institutions and municipalities, as well. 

 Yitu's market-driven AI solutions polish the company, and there is a strong probability that the company will maintain and enhance its dominant position in the Medical AI and big-data of security industries in China.

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