In line with National Senior Citizens Day on 21 August 2022, Foundation Studies alum Yifei Wang (TCFS 2013) tells us about his new venture CaptureLive, which aims to reduce the fatality of falls in elderly populations with the help of AI. Tragically, it was built off the back of a personal experience.
When Yifei Wang moved to Melbourne from Shanghai, China, to join Trinity’s Foundation Studies program in 2013, he lacked confidence in speaking English and was nervous about travelling without his family. ‘My English was not so good at that time and it was my first time studying abroad alone,’ he remembers. ‘But the teachers at Trinity were always kind and patient and made me feel at home.’
Looking back, the support and guidance he received while completing Foundation Studies helped kick off an exciting chapter in his life and he now credits Trinity as the place where his dream began.
After graduating from TCFS in 2014, Yifei studied a Bachelor of Science at the University of Melbourne, majoring in computing and software systems. He then studied a Master of Information Technology at Melbourne Uni, while tutoring in undergraduate IT subjects. It was during this time that he founded AIBUILD with classmates David Taichung Zhou and Jojo Huijun Lao in 2017, who could see the raft of potential that AI and other technologies could bring to businesses.
AIBUILD which helps businesses develop and integrate web technologies, artificial intelligence, virtual reality and augmented reality into their business model to improve operations. Since founding the company in late 2017, Yifei and his team claim 500 per cent growth since the company’s inception and completion of 150 projects.
They have conducted research with the ARC Research Hub for Nanoscience-based Construction Material Manufacturing, received grants from the Australian Research Council in 2020, and won best IoT (internet of things) prizes in the UniHack hackathon in 2018. The company was also shortlisted as one of the top eight startups in Victoria and South Australia as part of the RiverPitch TV show in 2019.
Though the company cuts across a number of sectors, Yifei was keen to add a falls prevention app to the mix, so developed CaptureLive, thought to be the first app in Australia to utilise depth cameras and artificial intelligence to predict falls in the elderly.
The app was motivated by Yifei’s personal experience, given he lost his grandmother in 2013 after she experienced a fall. At the time of her fall, Yifei’s parents were in the next room, and this demonstrated to him how easy it was for a fall to take someone’s life.
‘I really wish I could have invented a fall prevention system like CaptureLive earlier since that could have saved [my grandmother’s] life by early discovery and treatment,’ he says.
But, better late than never, and Yifei now hopes he can spare other people the devastation of losing a loved one – or losing their own life or independence – after a fall.
Yifei explains the details of the technology as ‘an innovative machine-learning fall prevention system, which can be used to effectively predict, detect and reduce falls in hospitals, nursing homes and private houses’.
Essentially, CaptureLive uses a depth camera as the primary sensor, allowing the system to extract human body skeleton data and track human movements in the camera’s field of vision.
The technology sounds complex and it is. Yifei and his team collect all data and manage processing from scratch, meaning that running the app behind the scenes is time and resource-consuming, but also potentially lifesaving.
Such technological developments are revolutionary for the more than four million seniors living in Australia – a number that is expected to double by 2050. Yifei points out that, each year, 40 per cent of people aged over 70 experience a fall, and falls are a major risk factor that leads to death in elderly people.
‘By preventing falls, risk of death can be reduced by 80 per cent and a huge amount of money can be saved,’ Yifei says. ‘CaptureLive also has potential usage in rehabilitation and early detection of chronic diseases. Falls prevention is just the beginning since our vision is to create a smart aged care ecosystem for the older generation.’
Yifei acknowledges that it’s always difficult to establish a startup, but for him and his co-founders, the fact that they all have IT backgrounds and limited knowledge of the aged care sector made it especially challenging, as they weren’t sure how to sell the product to their customers. ‘We also questioned whether our target customers should be hospitals, residential aged care facilities or just individual families.’
Nevertheless, with a ‘just give it a shot’ attitude, Yifei and his team were successful in having their first demo product trialled at an aged care facility in Melbourne, which has led to collaboration discussions with the University of Melbourne, Monash University, Monash hospitals and other regional hospitals in Victoria. Yifei hopes that this will further develop their product and help secure funding.
And, for Yifei, it has proven that, just like making the leap to move to Australia on his own, sometimes business requires a leap of faith too.
By Jemma Wilson