Flying (drone) doctors
We learn better in 3D!
For some of the most remote communities on Earth, getting access to life-saving vaccines is an ongoing challenge. In Vanuatu, an archipelago of 83 volcanic islands in the South Pacific, many children miss immunisations as their homes are so hard to reach. But with the help of drone technology and an augmented reality (AR) app, that’s beginning to change.
In 2018, airborne logistics company Swoop Aero, in conjunction with UNICEF and the Vanuatu Ministry of Health, launched the first medical drone delivery service in Vanuatu. Its first recipients where 13 children and five pregnant women on the remote island of Erromango. And to prepare them for this momentous landing, Swoop enlisted the help of Melbourne-born app JigSpace.
With the app’s AR technology, users can explore and interact with objects: from the inside of an eye to the vast solar system. And it was this ability to learn in 3D that caught the attention of Eric Peck, CEO of Swoop Aero.
“As soon as Eric saw JigSpace, he asked us to help them solve a problem – how to educate and train people to use their drone technology,” says Zac Duff, co-founder and CEO of JigSpace.
And that’s how Swoop Aero started their collaboration with JigSpace, translating their drone model into a Jig (a 3D model in the app), which was to become a core part of the training for inhabitants of Vanuatu, including healthcare staff in the region. The Jig could accurately convey the size of the drone, how it would land and how to offload the cargo – right on the ground in front of them.
Peck says that this training method not only helped everyone involved feel more at ease with the drone, but also sped up the entire vaccine delivery process. “It’s allowed us to deliver the most cost-effective heath outcomes we can, and rapidly expand the number of recipients that we were able to train,” he says.
In 2019 Swoop Aero commenced delivery of medical supplies to other locations in Malawi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. And in 2020 they will join forces with UK Aid to transfer TB samples via drones in Mozambique.
“Excitingly for JigSpace, the AR app is at the centre of all the training packages that we’re rolling out, everywhere we operate,” says Peck.
“Knowledge overcomes fear,” adds Duff. “We’re thrilled that our apps are being used to share critical knowledge with people who need it most. ARKit is absolutely an enabling technology for this. We’re excited to continue working with Swoop!”