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Italian Artificial Intelligence tackles medical emergencies at sea

Mermaid-AI is a telehealth platform at sea based on a visor equipped with an AR, medical Artificial Intelligence algorithms, satellite communications and IoT technologies

Technology

Five Italian companies specialised in ICT and digitisation applications have formed a collaboration to develop a maritime tele-assistance platform based on satellite technologies, Artificial Intelligence and Augmented Reality. Named Mermaid-AI, the platform was selected by the RAISE (Robotics and AI for Socio-economic Empowerment) innovation hub as one of the projects funded through a specific call for experimental development.

RAISE is funded by the PNRR and the MIUR, with the aim of strengthening innovation ecosystems in areas of technological specialisation consistent with Liguria's industrial and research vocations. RAISE is coordinated by the University of Genoa (UNIGE), the National Research Council (CNR) and the Italian Institute of Technology (IIT).

Mermaid-AI is a solution designed for recreational boating, but extendable to any type of vessel. It is a telehealth platform at sea based on a visor equipped with an AR device for the operator on board in contact with the health personnel ashore, a set of sensors to monitor the patient's vital parameters on board, e-triage and self-care algorithms assisted by Artificial Intelligence, and multilingual specialised satellite teleconsultation provided 24/7 by affiliated health facilities.

Mermaid-AI will complement the existing SAR/MRCC (Search and Rescue / Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre) rescue network, offering functional and cost advantages. Mermaid-AI is universally accessible and allows for qualified interventions in real time, with the possibility of assessing the severity of the case on board, also in compliance with the ILO/IMO (International Labour Organisation / International Maritime Organisation) recommendations for safeguarding the health of workers at sea.

It also enables cost efficiencies for the shipowner. Worldwide, course diversions and evacuations by helicopter or other vessel for medical reasons account for approximately 760 million euros per year. It is estimated that 25 per cent of interventions would be avoidable with a telemedicine solution capable of diagnosing and suggesting timely actions that can be performed on board and monitoring the evolution of the situation safely.

The development of Mermaid-AI requires a range of health, maritime and digital expertise, spread across the entire value chain: from cloud infrastructure to connectivity to application development, focused on generative AI. The companies that developed the platform therefore each have their own specificities.

Netalia is the leader of the partnership: it is responsible for developing the ship-to-shore connectivity infrastructure under different operating conditions, providing the cloud repository, and ensuring integration and data security. Innonation is an innovative ICT services SME: it develops the on-board data collection technology, integrates the medical device kit with environmental and navigation IoT, and acts as the project's system integrator.

Porto Antico di Genova is the public company that manages the waterfront of Genoa: it works on the land station model that provides remote service and dispatching to the telemedicine operator. Posdata is a System Integrator: it collaborates in the software development of the solution verticalised on the identified use cases. Teseo is a spin-off of the University of Genoa specialising in innovative AI and IoT solutions for behavioural analysis and healthcare: it develops the artificial intelligence algorithms to support e-triage and case severity assessment, and coordinates the participatory lab with local stakeholders.

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