UniSC researchers confront how to build ‘the best’ human-AI teams

ARTIFICIAL intelligence (AI) and humans do not have an ‘ideal working relationship’ yet – that much is clear to three researchers at the University of the Sunshine Coast (UniSC) who are investigating this complex and urgent issue.

A team led by UniSC’s Centre for Human Factors and Sociotechnical Systems has been awarded $603,000 in Australian Research Council Discovery Project funding over three years, to develop a new model of teamwork for what are known as Human-Autonomy Teams (HATs).

Centre co-director, professor Paul Salmon is leading the project to investigate how to best design artificial intelligence, and organise teams so that humans and artificial intelligence can work together effectively across multiple industries.

“Often artificial intelligence is not designed in a way that allows humans to work with it very well, so it can be a problematic team member that increases the likelihood of teamwork failures,” Prof. Salmon said. 

“An autonomous vehicle collision is a good example of where you have very advanced AI, but often it’s not telling its human teammate what it can see and what action needs to be taken, which shows us that team situational awareness and communication are still lacking.”

Yet AI is being adopted globally in workplaces at a rapid rate – across healthcare, aviation, defence, transport, and disaster response – from driverless vehicles to robot-assisted surgery.

“There are huge potential benefits,” Prof. Salmon said. “But AI is complex and is often not designed to work in teams or with consideration for how humans are going to interact with it.

“A lot of research exists on the psychology of human teams, but now we need a basic understanding of what teamwork looks like when you have humans and AI working together.

“We plan to apply new systems analysis and computational modelling methods to develop, test and validate a new model of teamwork for humans and AI. This will clarify the processes and behaviours that support optimal functioning and performance.” 

Prof. Salmon is joined on the research team by UniSC associate professor Gemma Read and Dr Scott McLean, as well as global leaders in team leadership from universities in the United States.

UniSC vice-chancellor and president, Prof. Helen Bartlett said UniSC’s Centre for Human Factors and Sociotechnical Systems was an Australian leader in how humans work effectively with systems.

“This funding is testament to the expertise of our team from UniSC, which has partnered with world experts in team-building and human autonomy from Arizona State University and Rice University,” Prof. Bartlett said.

“This project builds on our commitment to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, which includes contributing to (the goals of) Decent Work and Economic Growth as well as Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure.

“We are delighted, that as a regional Australian university, we are at the forefront of new globally important research to build knowledge in these areas.”



Scholarships fund students' quest to innovate on mine rehabilitations

MORE THAN $200,000 in student scholarships is up for grabs in a bid to develop innovative ways to improve land rehabilitation in Queensland coal mines.

Queensland Resources Minister Scott Stewart said applications were now open for the Queensland Resources Council’s Coal Mine Site Rehabilitation scholarships, which give two Queensland university students the chance to pursue postgraduate studies in world-class environmental management.

“Mine rehabilitation is now a key part of company policies and the life of mine planning cycle,” Mr Stewart said. 

“Not only is it important for the environment but rehabilitation programs help create more jobs for Queenslanders after a mine is no longer in use.

“While much progress has been made, I support the industry’s continuing efforts to improve rehabilitation methods to ensure mining is compatible with current and future land uses," Mr Stewart said.

“Mine rehabilitation is highly regulated, better implemented and more accountable than ever before, but we need ongoing research to fill knowledge gaps and identify future issues to ensure we can have confidence in the industry’s ability to manage and reduce its impacts.”

Since 2007, the Coal Minesite Rehabilitation scholarships have enabled Queensland postgraduate students to undertake research to help improve coal mine rehabilitation within the state.

The successful recipients will receive $35,000 a year for up to three years to conduct their research.

Queensland Resources Council (QRC) chief executive Ian Macfarlane said the industry needs more world-class experts to continually innovate and lead the resources sector’s rehabilitation practices. 

“The scholarships will benefit individual students but will also benefit our industry because we need innovation and fresh thinking to help us continually improve our practices,” Mr Macfarlane said.

"Managed well, land can be used after the completion of mining for a range of uses such as agriculture, renewable energy infrastructure, native ecosystems and community development.

“The research conducted by these postgraduate students is making a significant contribution to understanding and implementing sustainable land management.”

University of Queensland student and 2018 scholarship recipient Phillip McKenna used his scholarship to study the effects of bushfires on rehabilitated land.

“The scholarship allowed me to travel across Central and South East Queensland for the project which was looking at rehabilitation and how it recovers to fire over time,” Mr McKenna said.

“I initially did my masters on fire recovery. I’ve got a background in ecology and remote sensing and this PhD is really an extension of that project.

“This project is really looking at how sustainable rehabilitation is in the long term.”

Mr Stewart said advances in mine rehabilitation provided certainty for business, industry and ongoing benefits for local communities.

“In 2018 the Queensland Government passed important mining rehabilitation legislation to ensure land no longer used for mining is returned to its original state, or better,” he said.

More information on the 2022 Coal Minesite Rehabilitation Scholarship positions is available at:



Taking the lid off innovation the 'eeasy' way

By Leon Gettler, Talking Business

ONE OF THE BIG ISSUES for some, particularly the disabled and senior citizens, is trying to open certain jars. No matter how hard they try, the jar won’t open, the lid won't budge.

This was the idea behind the work of US firm Consumer Convenience Technologies (CCT) which developed the the EEASY Lid – the first jar lid innovation in over 75 years. The lid allows consumers to vent a jar by simply pressing a button to the lid which opens a tiny slit that breaks the seal. 

Believe it or not, there are about a third of consumers who struggle to open jar lids. While a stubborn vacuum-sealed jar lid might be a minor inconvenience to some, it can be a major struggle for others with disabilities or physical limitations. The future of packaging is dependent on inclusive adaptation, and CCT is leading the charge.

It is a software designed technology that reduces the amount of vacuum setting in a vacuum sealed jar making it 50 percent easier to open the jar lid. The button goes on top of the jar lid and when the consumer pushes the button, it releases the vacuum, allowing the jar lid to open without much effort. It is used for any jar that contains food.

The company put seven years research into it. CCT started with tin but then found it was more effective to use aluminium.


Brandon Bach, the president of CCT said aluminium was also more sustainable than tin or steel.

“With aluminium being more malleable and there’s also its durability,” Mr Bach told Talking Business.

“Aluminium is used in space flight and all sorts of things. It was a better product for us to use and to get the performance and benefits that we feel the consumer deserves.”

The other advantage was that aluminium could be recycled.

“That was one of the major benefits when we were trying to make the decision to keep trying to make this work on the steel or to move into the aluminium arena,” Mr Bach said.

He said the industry had definitely taken to it. The company’s analysis showed that CCT’s approach actually increased sales for companies. CCT was now working with a few companies to roll the product out on the store shelves in 2023.


He cited one case study done by CCT where the EEASY Lid was put into 190 grocery stores in Pennsylvania.

“We were expecting a 30-40 percent increase in sales when the 16 week trial period was completed. We actually couldn’t keep the product on the shelf,” he said.

“We ran out four times. We ended up with an increase in sales of over 341 percent. We could have been higher. At one point, we were up 700 percent and we ran out. We could not keep the product on the shelf.”

The EEASY Lid is patented worldwide and CCT plans to introduce it to global markets.

CCT has also commercialised it and has opened a technology centre. Now CCT is working its way through the pandemic as the US economy has begun opening up.

Mr Bach said CCT is planning on having other innovations and brands in the mix. 


Hear the complete interview and catch up with other topical business news on Leon Gettler’s Talking Business podcast, released every Friday at

Vantari VR reduces medical error by 40pc – Wollongong University research

MEDICAL VIRTUAL REALITY company, Vantari VR, has been found to help reduce medical errors by an astounding 40 percent.

In tests conducted in partnership with the University of Wollongong (UOW), researchers also found Vantari VR training software had helped student clinicians to improve performance by 32 percent and adherence to safety and hygiene by 39 percent.

Through its unique ‘flight-simulator’-style technology, Vantari delivers medical training via a VR headset and laptop, allowing clinicians to perform and perfect clinical procedures. 

Vantari VR’s platform delivers procedural training to doctors, nurses and medical students, with a mission to eliminate medical error, and provide standardisation in the delivery of training across the board.

The partnership with UOW, which set out to test and validate Vantari VR’s solution, observed 25 students using the VR software, against a control group of 19 students not receiving the VR training. The results highlighted the potential for significantly improved patient outcomes as well as cost savings for hospitals. 

An expert in using technologies like VR to overcome barriers of the real world, Shiva Pedram from the University of Wollongong’s SMART Infrastructure Facility said the university was “thrilled to see virtual reality used in such a meaningful way” with measurable impact aligned to the motor skills theory of learning.

“Currently, students are using mannequins to do practice procedures; this comes with a number of logistical limitations and it’s very centralised,” Dr Pedram said.

“Vantari is now offering students decentralised training, meaning students can receive thorough training regardless of time or location. The most important thing is that students can take their time with these procedures, they can reflect, revisit and repeat until they reach a point where they feel comfortable and confident to perform the same, or similar, procedures in real life.”


The partnership between Vantari and UOW allowed medical students to practise procedures in a safe VR environment, commencing with arterial blood gas (ABG) collection. A fundamental procedure done daily in hospitals across Australia and globally, it remains an essential skill for all medical students, doctors and in some contexts, other healthcare practitioners such as nurses.

The modules cover core competencies as well as more complex critical care procedures, and users learn best practice by following steps in VR which are recommended by college guidelines. These provide a foundation to use Vantari’s platform as both a digital logbook and, in the future, an accreditation platform.

As the pandemic continues to cause issues in Australia, the need to future-proof education and training has never been more important, Dr Pedram said. The commercial pilot study was ably supported by the UOW research and clinical teams and the Graduate School of Medicine. Researchers clinically validated the software and are set to publish the full research paper within weeks. 

Research shows that 28-40 percent of novice residents were not confident in performing a major surgical procedure. The difference between novices and experts is generally in their perception, decision making, actions and attention. With VR allowing the provision of continuous training to complement real-world experience, this gap can be reduced; the results from the recent research piece offer a testament to the fantastic outcomes available.


Vantari VR co-founder and co-CEO Nishanth Krishnananthan said the results from the research program provided fantastic affirmation that the software was delivering on its objectives.

“The results have highlighted just how much time and money the training software is set to save hospitals and universities, and we are really excited by the improved confidence in the medical and healthcare industries that we can offer to patients, as they can expect better outcomes,” he said.

The Vantari ABG module is hosted on Vantari Connect – the cloud-hosted Vantari platform which hosts a library of medical procedures for training. Observed students were immersed in a medical environment with a virtual patient, virtual instruments and a step-by-step guide of written and narrated instructions on how to perform the procedure.

Vantari will utilise the ABG VR trainer to unlock a number of foundational procedures with a view to integrating more broadly into the medical curriculum both at UOW and nationally, with potential to extend the training beyond practitioners.

“As technology like this becomes more affordable and accessible, we will be able to provide more experiences,” Dr Shiva said.

“Ideally, the VR training will extend beyond students and clinicians and we will be able to look at how we can expose the family, friends and carers of the patient to the pain or challenges they’re experiencing, and that awareness and empathy will help with the support process. The reach of the educational benefits is limitless.”

Looking ahead, Vantari VR is aiming to secure funding as part of its current capital raise. The raise comes as Vantari VR secured the MVP Grant in 2018, the AC Grant in 2019, and more recently, the Epic Games MegaGrant last year.

Vantari VR was launched in 2017 and is now operating in four hospitals across Australia. Vantari VR’s stated aim is to help produce the best doctors and the best medical outcomes by reducing medical error and in turn, saving patients’ lives.


Senate report provides compelling roadmap for Australia to lead digital and crypto asset industry

THE far-reaching recommendations of the Senate inquiry into the regulation of crypto assets present an opportunity to attract jobs, investment and innovation to Australia, according to RMIT University.

Parliament should adopt them as soon as possible, according to associate professor Chris Berg, co-founder of the Blockchain Innovation Hub at RMIT University.

RMIT University was recently ranked the second best university in the world for blockchain research and education, and scholars from the RMIT Blockchain Innovation Hub provided a submission and twice gave evidence before the inquiry.  

Mr Berg said the recommendations in this report offer the cryptocurrency and blockchain sector the clarity which is desperately needed to ensure a thriving future digital economy.

“We have an opportunity to take a global leadership position and compete with countries such as the United States, Singapore and Switzerland in this incredibly vibrant sector,” Mr Berg said.

“It is good to see our recommendations to change how cryptocurrency is taxed and how blockchain-based decentralised autonomous organisations (DAOs) are regulated being taken up by the Australian Senate."

One of the submission’s co-authors, Elizabeth Morton, particularly welcomed the committee’s recommendation for targeted reform of the capital gains taxation regime as it applies to cryptocurrency.

“We see an urgent need to ensure the tax system achieves balance in simplification, reflective of a digitally driven economy, encouraging tax compliance and protecting tax revenues from the risk of leakage," Dr Morton said.

“Reform will offer clarity for taxpayers and confidence in the tax system as a whole."

 RMIT Blockchain Innovation Hub research fellow, Aaron Lane said the Senate Committee’s recommendation to establish a new Decentralised Autonomous Organisation company structure, if legislated, will be the most significant reform to corporate law in two decades.

“Blockchain and cryptocurrency is not just about providing new types of financial products – this technology is the infrastructure for new ways of governing economic exchange," Dr Lane said.

“Providing DAO members with the option of a limited liability company structure will encourage talent and investment in Australia.”

Mr Berg said policy change "was much needed" to provide regulatory clarity to the industry.

“Senator Bragg and the committee have provided a compelling roadmap for how Australia can lead the global blockchain industry,” Mr Berg said.

The RMIT Blockchain Innovation Hub is based in the College of Business and Law at RMIT University, Melbourne.



MizMaa innovates with the best of East and West

By Leon Gettler >>

MIZMAA is an intriguingly-named an Israeli venture capital fund which provides long-term investment capital to back leaders making innovative changes to marketplaces, by using the best of the East and the West, to help tech companies in Israel come to fruition.

MizMaa Ventures is focusing on early stage Israeli technology companies taking their innovations to the rest of the world.

Its focus is in areas where Israel has “an unfair competitive advantage” compared with the rest of the world.

Aaron Applbaum, a partner at MizMaa said much of this intellectual capital comes out of successful military service, from a county that is small and isolated, facing much larger and better equipped adversaries. 

Israel’s competitive advantages in technologies include artificial intelligence (AI), big data, cryptography, cyber security, cloud, and devops.



Mr Applbaum said another area MizMaa was focusing on had been in the area of mobility.

Israel has never produced a car. The centres of excellence for cars are in Japan, Germany and the United States.

However, this will change as the next 15 years will see the car industry transformed by machine-to-machine communication, connectivity, zero latency communication protocol and cyber security, with cars all connected to the internet and utilising sensors and radars. These are areas where Israel does excel.

“And because of that, we have taken these deep technologies where Israel is amongst the world’s best and applied it to an ageing disrupted industry like the automobile industry,” Mr Applbaum told Talking Business.

He said cars of the future would be smart, connected, autonomous, electrified and shared.

“The entire trillion automotive mobility world is getting turned on its head,” Mr Applbaum said.

“Our job fundamentally is to look 25 years out, work out what’s going to happen, work our way backwards to figure out what technologies are going to get us there and then identify people who can captain those ships.

“And the world is changing. Cars are going to drive themselves and packages will be delivered via drones and there’s the level of connectivity between people.”



MizMaa is the combination of two Hebrew words: Mizrach and Maarav – which means East and West. Mr Applbaum said this sums up the direction of MizMaa, it is a truly global venture capital fund. One partner is in San Francisco in the greater Bay area, another partner is in Hong Kong, and yet another is constantly on flights between Manhattan and Tel Aviv in Israel.

“We have access to the large global corporates and capital markets of East Asia, Hong Kong, China, Japan and Korea,” Mr Applbaum said.

We have access to the intellectual capital of California, Silicon Valley. We have access to the customer base within New York, the insurance companies, the healthcare industry, the banks, all under one small roof, so that when a company takes capital from MizMaa, what they’re really getting is a truly global network,” he said .

MizMaa has a team of just five. It is lean and mean.

But counted amongst those five are the former global head of IBM’s fintech platforms, a former vice-chairman of JP Morgan who ran all of investment banking in Asia, a former general partner of the $8 billion Silicon Valley fund LightSpeed Ventures, an F-16 pilot with a background in mathematics and computer science and Mr Applbaum himself comes from the hedge fund world and has done structured finance in New York and Washington DC, predominantly focused on cyber security and enterprise software.

“While we’re a very lean team, we have very complementary skills and it’s not our first rodeo so we punch above our weight,“ Mr Applbaum said.


Hear the complete interview and catch up with other topical business news on Leon Gettler’s Talking Business podcast, released every Friday at


CityZenith: Expect a boom in smart cities post-pandemic

By Leon Gettler >>

THE COVID-19 pandemic will trigger a boom in smart cities.

Michael Jansen, the CEO and founder of Chicago based CityZenith, said COVD-19 has alerted cities, communities and developers to new possibilities

“COVID-19 forced the cities to pause, as it were, and in the course of doing that, shut down normal functions which gives them a chance to reconsider how they wish to resume and there has been a lot of discussion around repurposing traditional pedestrian ways, converting traditional store fronts into other things, public spaces, things that can help revitalise and change cities as they come back to some semblance of normality,” Mr Jansen told Talking Business. 

“Also COVID taught us that certain cities are far better prepared to respond to the outbreak. Cities that had deployed … sensor technologies that were able to track movement, that were able to push data to a central hub, had an advantage.”

He said a number of South East Asian cities that had deployed these technologies were ahead of their counterparts, especially in the United States.

“The lesson of that will be that being able to know about real time movement in cities is important, not just of vehicles but of people and logistics,” Mr Jansen said.


Mr Jansen said projections of smart city development five years out had changed since COVID.

“Smart cities will also leave us better equipped to deal with future pandemics, which are more than likely, and natural disasters such as flooding, as well as providing benefits with energy savings and solar capacity,” he said.

Mr Jansen said smart cities help communities deal with technologies from water, to mobility to information technology – and to things that have nothing to do with technology, such as inclusion, social equity and resilience.

While the concept of smart cities had been around since the early 2000s, the market had not developed, despite a lot of goodwill and intention, he said. However, the market is changing now for smart city technologies, such as data platforms, relevant equipment, smart building technology and energy technology.


Mr Jansen said CityZenith’s work was not so much an entire city, but part of a city, “a campus or district, as it were”. 

“Most likely, a focused development of some kind that may have a transformational role in that city,” he said.

“Our projects often require us to develop a digital twin hub of that area of the city first and build up this data, that the architects and engineers can begin to experiment with, by importing 3D models and moving things around and testing everything from solar analysis to flood resilience and things like that.

“The nice thing about having all this in a digital environment is that you can make changes,” Mr Jansen said.

“Once it’s enriched with data, which can be energy data from a local data base to sensor data which can be provided by a private company, all that comes together in a rich environment to run analytics for these complex projects.”

He said CityZenith licenses its technology to companies that build large projects and, at the moment, the company is focusing on decarbonisation projects to help owners and operators achieve carbon neutrality goals.

Mr Jansen said City Zenith would soon be announcing its first city in America and it’s received expressions of interest from all over the world, including Australia.

All these cities would be following in the direction set by Singapore years ago, he said.

Hear the complete interview and catch up with other topical business news on Leon Gettler’s Talking Business podcast, released every Friday at


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