09.30-11.45 Day 2 - Plenary - NDIS
Please take your seats, we are going to start in a few minutes.
Wow. Isn't this exciting? Good morning, everyone. A warm welcome in my language, Auslan. It is
lovely to see you all for day two of the New World Conference. I am now going to hand over Auslan
to the interpreters so there is no confusion.
I am Matthew Wright, CEO of the Australian Federation of Disability Organisations, I am deaf, and
proud to be part of Australia's signing community. Before getting started, I would first like to
acknowledge the traditional owners of the land on which we meet and pay my respect to their
Elders, both past and present.
On arriving here, people with disability have told me how excited and optimistic they are after the
first day of the conference. It is fitting that last week was October 21, 2015. An iconic date in the 80s
film, 'Back to the Future'.
The writers predicted virtual reality glasses and self-drying jackets, among other things, but what is
not featured is disability. Ironically, key actor Michael J. Fox is now one of the most high profile
people with a disability. That is something we all grapple with, you can't tell who will experience
disability and who won't.
That is why the NDIS is so important. It doesn't matter when you experience disability in Australia,
you will get support.
I believe the NDIS is more exciting than the film predicted. I am wearing hearing aids which amplify
all sounds by remote control, and what looks like a piece of spy equipment, my Roger pen which I
can put down in meetings, and a vibrating watch which alerts me to meetings 100% of the time.
My wife, who has never spoken a word, is a qualified teacher of the deaf, only made possible by the
National Relay Service, where you can type messages to an online operator who will call and speak
messages on your behalf.
These technological advancements in accessibility have been happening incrementally, sometimes
almost by accident. However, why wouldn't companies be moving into the space now when at least
$1 billion from the NDIS will be spent on life changing equipment for us?
It is about linking customers with technology on a mass scale, not an afterthought. It changes the
way that disability affects a person's life. Many Internet-based jobs mean if you can perform the role
you will not be screened out of interviews by past prejudices and assumptions.
The attendance at this conference by IT pioneers is a testament to that. We must not do what has
been done in the past, separating people with disability from the community.
Now, at last, with the NDIS we can be leading edge and not the last to know. Connected and online,
not left out. Co-designers of technology to make it accessible for everyone.
It is a bright future, we people with disability cannot wait to get started. Thank you.
Before I introduce our speakers, I would like to remind you we want you to be part of the
conversation on social media, our technology is helping people with disability. The hashtag is
It now gives me great pleasure to introduce the Hon. Coralee O'Rourke, Minister for Disability
Services, Minister for Seniors and Minister Assisting the Premier on North Queensland, who is
passionate about people with disability and giving a voice to older Queenslanders. She works closely
with her Cabinet colleagues to deliver for this region. Everyone please welcome Minister O'Rourke
to the stage.
Good morning, everybody. Firstly, if I can start by acknowledging the traditional owners of the land
on which we meet today and pay my respects to their Elders past and present.
Thank you all for coming to this conference, this is an incredible opportunity for us all to engage in. I
am very excited to be joining you today, not only to advance my knowledge of assistive technology,
but to take part in the conversation of how technology helps the National Disability Insurance
This conference has brought together some of the world's brightest minds, I am excited to see the
results. We have already heard from a number of speakers who have shared with us their ideas of
how we can optimise both social and economic independence for people with disability in the
I look forward to continuing this conversation with you today. In my opinion, there is now room to
be talking about the future for people with disability, as North Queensland will have an early launch
of the NDIS.
This will support communication and engagement, especially in rural and remote locations. If you
think about the pace of technology, the possibilities for technology to improve the lives of people
with disability are absolutely endless.
Innovation is a crucial driver of economic growth in Queensland. Our commitment is to work
collaboratively to turn great ideas into great solutions.
We know that as technology continues to grow and change, so does the future of our State. We
must be positioning ourselves to take advantage of new opportunities.
Queensland government policy will nurture an economy where Queenslanders, their children and
grandchildren will have positive job prospects well into the future. It will support entrepreneurs,
industry and universities to attract investment and promote Queensland as an attractive investment
A culture which supports opportunities for entrepreneurialism to flourish. We will be ready and able
to generate the big, new ideas and technologies that will upgrade our civilisation and create better
opportunities for future generations.
We have been working with service providers to raise awareness, and promote the use of assistive
technology through the Community Care Program. We have trialled smart technologies, and funded
information sessions so people with disability, their families and service providers know exactly what
types of technology are available to them.
In September my colleague Nikki Boyd launched an exciting opportunity. The Community Care Smart
Assistive Collaborative brings together providers and people with a disability in an online
It also provides a platform for people with disabilities to communicate with experts and share their
knowledge and experience and collaborate with others through webinars, live forums and blogs.
I have been told it's doing a fantastic job. To date it has attracted 140 registered members. One story
was published by Eleanor Horton who is a dedicated family carer who shared her story with the
online community.
She cares for her husband, who had a severe stroke at a young age, and is using smart assistive
technology to ensure that she can continue to work away from home while knowing that her
husband is safe and secure.
The collaborative platform has more examples like those and I encourage you to get involved in the
project and to share your experiences of incorporating new and emerging technologies.
My department are on site here at the Expo and would be thrilled to help you become a registered
Another important initiative for Queensland is the Elderly Parent Carer initiative. This assists parents
to secure long-term living arrangements for when they are no longer able to care for their adult son
or daughter with a disability.
Approximately $17 million has been made available for innovative housing projects across the State.
I have visited a number of these projects. I have seen how the use of assistive technologies such as
lighting and temperature control activated by smart phones and other remote devices can help
tenants live independently. And this is a key focus of the initiative.
The Endeavour Foundation has installed assistive technologies into open plan designs at the
Bundaberg property. And Multicap has used smart wiring in their Rockhampton property to meet
people's needs. Additionally, energy efficient fixtures will be installed to meet the needs of tenants
with disabilities and help with operational costs.
There is a fourth funding round to allocate just over $3 million. If you are interested in making a
submission, go to the ‘funding available’ tab on the website.
It is also important to remember that it does not have to be complicated, expensive or out of reach.
Assistive technology can be as simple as apps or tools for your smart phone that can make a
significant difference in the day-to-day lives of people with disability.
That is why my Department's website includes access to apps and other tools. We will keep looking
at a range of different ways that we can use technology to improve the lives of Queenslanders with
I look forward to the exciting times ahead as we strive to achieve better outcomes for
Queenslanders with disability, their families and carers, through technology.
This NDIS conference is a wonderful way to explore the opportunities that technologies have
brought and is continuing to bring.
I wish you all the best for the rest of the conference and that you find the presentations exciting and
insightful. Thank you to the organisers for choosing our beautiful State to start this conversation.
Thank you very much.
Thank you, Minister and congratulations on the new trial sites in Queensland. Our next speaker is
Phil Jenkins, a senior software engineer at IBM.
He was appointed by the President of the US to the US Access Board. He serves on the World Wide
Web Consortium Steering Council creating Web accessible initiatives. He has worked across many
IBM divisions.
He joined IBM in 1981. He holds several patents and speaks English and Italian fluently and is
married with three sons. Please welcome Phil Jenkins to the stage.
Good morning and thank you. It is a pleasure to be here. Thank you for that introduction. Let me tell
you about myself. I come from Austin, Texas. In Texas they speak a different language to the rest of
the US. I have been practising Australian, so I can say, "G'day, mate."
In Austin, I would say, "Howdy, y'all". The question for today is what is the plural of y'all? It's, "All
I am going to tell you a little story if I can get the technology to work right. We are going to go back
to 1873, an individual is going to school. His name is Herman Hollerith. He had a learning disability, a
kind of dyslexic disability and he detested spelling lessons.
He was jumping out of the second story window of his classroom to avoid that situation. It turned
out that a little later he opened the world's eyes to data processing. He invented the punch card and
created a company called the Tabulating Machine Company which was later renamed, International
Business Machines.
He started the data processing era. That is what is inside IBM. It is part of our DNA. Accessibility has
been part of our employees’ and company’s philosophy, in effect, since the beginning.
Some other trends are driving the human-centric computing that we have today. The ageing
population, more than 14% of the population in 2040 will be over 65.
You heard yesterday morning from Jeff, we want this technology to continue to work for us. It is
about all of us and it will need to work for all of us, whether we have a disability or not. We will want
to be able to communicate with our grandchildren and family and friends. It is about caregivers,
families and us as individuals.
The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, that was signed off, as of this month we
have 160 countries who have signed the convention. Australia signed on in 2008, the US a year later
in 2009.
To help the US see the vision and help ratify it, IBM, the only company invited to testify to the
Senate Foreign Relations Committee, testified as to why the United States should ratify the
My manager, Frances West, who was going to give the presentation today, she was the one to
testify to Congress. She could not be here and sends her apologies, she had a family emergency. She
is deeply interested, deeply involved, we were here together last year. I am honoured to give this
talk in her place.
Let's keep going. There is a framework, a journey we are on, this NDIS scheme is the perfect way to
understand this. There are standards and policies in place, things like the UN Convention on the
Rights of Persons with Disabilities, there are other standards like the height of a doorknob, the width
of a doorway.
There are also standards in information technology. There are standards for websites, applications,
apps. At the core is research, innovation and technology, you saw some ideas at the dinner last night
about new technologies.
On the bottom left is the ecosystem development, the NDIS is creating a platform to bring service
providers and people with disabilities and their carers together to help improve that system.
The system we are trying to create of wellness, care, support together, it is really going to leverage
the technology in this framework, leverage the data, and improve the expertise of everyone who has
participated to achieve the right outcome. It is not about playing with toys, it is about improving our
lives, making us healthier, happier, more engaged, and more well.
That is the framework. That is the vision.
We have this perfect storm that is happening right now. There is access anywhere, any time, on any
device, but what is happening, it is affecting all of us. Not just a person with disability or their carer.
It comes across to all of us in every situation.
The mainstreaming of mobile technologies has happened. If you are outside and it is bright, wouldn't
it be nice if your phone could compensate? A person with disability has that all the time, they need
that fundamental technology built in from the ground up.
Because of the assistive technologies that are built into mobile, we can leverage that for anyone,
anywhere. Ambient noise, if I am in a library where I need to be quiet and want to have a
conversation with my son at university, sending him a text message or direct message is a way to
A person with a disability may not have that choice, but fundamentally the technology is built in
there for all of us.
Bumpy roads, if you are on a ride to the airport, the roads in this State are beautiful, you probably
don't have a problem here, but in Texas the roads are too bumpy, trying to send a text message does
not work. So you send a voice message. Take that voice message, encode it to text, and send it on.
I'm sure many of you do that today. Of course there are laws about texting while driving as well.
Ageing eyes. We want the ability to magnify the fonts or settings in our iPhones or other smart
devices. Having that technology built in to the device is what is making this now available for
everyone, anywhere, at any time.
So the difference here is we have to take this mobile concept and build it into the platform we are
trying to create here for this marketplace of connecting people who need services with people who
provide services. And allow that innovation to happen.
You folks that are the service providers need to take notice of the technology that is in the devices in
the platform, so you can provide services in the appropriate way.
Take, for example, wheelchair users. What is the big deal, Phil? I can text, hear, see... But what if you
are a wheelchair user and you are blind? A website about wheelchairs, it has to describe the
wheelchair, has to have the ability for a blind user to understand the website.
Maybe you want to talk to a family member with disability.
So this sweet spot is what is enabling this now. Co-design, we have heard this talked about already
at the conference.
At IBM we talk about delivering human-centric, focusing on the human, not focusing on the device,
focusing on the human and delivering that human-centric solution that is going to personalise the
user’s experience, depending on their needs, their wants, their preferences, and the context they
are in.
Regardless of their age, regardless of their ability, or because of all their abilities, to give them equal
access to innovation. That is what drives us for the future, what drives our research team. We are
going beyond technology and devices but achieving outcomes for our clients.
If we don't take note of these innovations and these opportunities that we have, we are going to
leave people behind. We are not in that business, we are in the business of helping people achieve
things. We all have some responsibilities here.
The beauty is it's now being enabled for us, the future is quite bright.
What device I have, what situation I'm in, that is where I start, then I look at the haptics, I need
speech recognition, output, where am I at the moment? All of that is going to help us create these
holistic human systems where we can collaborate and create the systems that we need.
Let me give you an example. We saw the pitch last night with some ideas where we can collaborate
between the manufacturers that have these printing devices and the users who need them and
trying to join them together.
We have to create the platform that allows the innovation to help people get together. The person is
blind, they need the assistive technology at that moment. Bridging that gap is what we are talking
It is what I am talking about when I say hyper-personalisation. The IBM story is a personal story. 76
years before the American Disability Act was passed. Voice recognition in the '90s, it was available
before that as an assistive device for people who had limited hand movement.
They were accepting a 50% accuracy rate back in the '80s. I worked on the personal computer, that
was my first job. What a fun journey it has been with IBM.
Fast forward to 2005, my family were on vacation. We had a car accident and my wife suffers a
traumatic brain injury. The family comes together, I am scared to death. We go to the speech
therapist and they are using IBM equipment to provide services to my wife.
The benefit of work I was doing personally helped my wife and my family. That is what it is about,
these innovations matter. We talk about remote-controlled keyboards in the '50s, there is an adding
machine you can command and control with your voice. These fundamental technologies are part of
the IBM journey.
We are now putting these services in the Cloud. We are saying - how can I get the service when I
need it? We have web browsers that allows the website to be transformed, command and control
with speech-to-text output, however you want to use the website without having to install anything.
Delivered based on your preferences, whenever you want them.
If I walk up to a banking ATM machine, wouldn't it be nice if it knew who I was and transformed
itself based on my preferences? Or my car, or whatever? That is where we are going, hyperpersonalisation.
We have 12 labs around the world, one here in Melbourne. 3000 scientists are involved. Last year, a
new record for the number of patents in one year, over 7000. That is more than the next five
companies combined.
So why is IBM spending US$6 billion and where do those innovations come from? They come from
people who have disabilities who are in research working on innovative technologies.
They are solving the problems that they are experiencing and providing solutions. And that is not
just last year, that is 22 years in a row. We are talking about Nobel laureates, I am proud to be an
IBMer, I am proud to wear my IBM T-shirt.
People ask me where is my tie? A little bit casual. I am going to play a video about inclusive design
(Video plays)
Technology is important because it respects individuals of different ability. In a way, technology has
a profound purpose.
Design that engages...
The fact that we can bring technology to individuals for productivity, that is exciting and rewarding.
Acceptable design should be part of our day to day...
Designers are responsible for the user experience. We need to be thinking about that upfront and
we need to do the hard work to understand what it means.
Design and accessibility should go hand-in-hand. Good information architecture, improving
accessibility in your design. Design is understanding accessibility, understanding what accessibility is
about and the challenges for users.
I think we have a unique responsibility to the world to design solutions, the differentiation we can
drive to the market to reach every possible human being on the planet, regardless of their technical
It could be one of the key differentiators that our portfolio has in the market. Think of it as designing
the application for everyone. Regardless of their level of technical expertise.
The goal is in accomplishing the interaction, to make the design, overall, better for anyone.
We want to understand accessibility, the better it is, the better the product.
We have been hiring thousands of people coming out of college as designers. Every so many
months, there is a new group coming through. These designers are empathising with people with
A set of designers are trying to understand what it means to have low vision. They are creative,
coming out of college, and they took the classic IBM logo and said, we want to empathise with
someone with colour blindness.
I have three boys, 10% of males have colour blindness. All three of my sons are colour blind. And
what they see is like this. The bumblebee in IBM is missing, 90% of us would see it. The experience of
empathising with the end user is fundamental to inclusive design.
It is critical to understand what they are trying to achieve, what it is they are doing. Now we have
taken that design concept and turned it into tools and put them into Tealeaf. This understands the
thousands of users of the website and understands where people are at.
We have layered on top of that design tools. Understanding what the contrast is and how that
affects the user experience. Building it into the tool is fundamental.
Not just putting them into a desktop but putting them into the Cloud is the next step. If I have an
HTML document, I can get it from the Cloud and check it as I upload it. Same thing with developers
here. Every time I check in my code for my new application, it runs through an accessibility checklist.
A decade of robust tooling investment that IBM has done to make us more efficient. Every time I
check in my code is checked and validated.
I remember wearing a beeper, if my code did not work I was called in to fix it.
When we talk about user experience, I am talking about all users. It is not just some users.
We want to integrate this accessibility across design and development, across the process. We want
to optimise apps and development for different situations, take advantage of not just this existing
technology but the underlying smarts. And then lead by making this part of the culture.
Let's look at some innovations. The cognitive era is just where we started. I was in Vegas when we
kicked off e-business, the era of online commerce. I was in Australia in 1988 with Tim Berners-Lee
kicking off the internet era, right here in this backroom.
The era of internet cafes, everyone jumping online.
What we are starting literally this month, how do we help humans and machines create a new era of
understanding? We are going to leverage all the things in the Cloud, assistive technology, mobile
analytics, and add another dimension to it that starts an era.
We are going to focus on the context, what am I doing, how I going to achieve all these outcomes?
Hyper-personalisation. But then I need to scale the expertise. What we talked about this morning, a
care provider can do their research and come up with a solution, but how do they stay on top of
When we sleep at night, we have a computer searching all the latest research papers. That came out
in Poland, or Brazil, "Here is the new innovation!"
We need to scale this expertise by having the computers help us. We need the computer to know
what to search for and send it back to us.
I asked for a recommendation of a restaurant to take my colleagues to, but search engines don't give
that. I want a Trip Advisor type solution.
There are lots of examples where computers are looking at X-rays, seeing X-rays, looking for
patterns. Assisting the clinician as to where there might be a disease they may overlook.
It is a collaboration between human and technology which is going to make things like cognitions
that much easier.
This is an IBM Fellow, the highest level you can get in IBM, blind since 14. His team are prototyping a
system where a camera will look at your face, recognise you, recognise your mood, sentiment,
perhaps you have tweeted how angry you are. All this information will be available to not just find
your way around but have the smarts of what is going on around us.
Speech recognition technology has been around, you are all using it to talk to Siri or Google Talk. But
we are not just recognising what you are saying, we can recognise the patterns that come with
mood. Possibly predicting the onset of Alzheimer's.
A person can use this technology, how can we help them not continue to develop Alzheimer's? How
can we help the family? How can we help them adjust and interact?
We are getting the computer language and the cognition starting to add up. This is exciting. I
dreamed about this kind of stuff when I was working on the first computer and it is happening today.
There is a challenge and an opportunity. It is easy, as we get into cognitive computing and artificial
intelligence, to start talking about deep learning, algorithms, and technical speak. We have got to
keep in mind, what is the end goal? What are we trying to achieve?
IBM has been around for 100 years because we are not a technology company, we are a company
that helps businesses achieve their outcomes using the innovations we have, or creating them to
solve a problem. Frankly, that is where these innovations come from, creating them to solve a
problem. And protecting the intellectual property and investment.
Sometimes we give that away, though. 50,000 lines of code was given to the Linux Foundation for
developing the first talking web browser.
Technology is fascinating but we have to keep in mind what we are trying to achieve. The things we
have not gotten our heads around yet. There are problems we will face, youth, service providers,
family carers, there are things we have not solved yet. We need to take advantage of these new
But we need a platform to go there, we need those insights, we need the computer to do those
things. My physician can't keep reading all the medical journals to advise me on my health. But a
smart computing system, IBM Watson, providing that information, has the insight into exactly what
is needed at what time.
It is phenomenal. I talked to some colleagues in the industry, one of them said, "If we can live long
enough and we don't get Alzheimer's, the rest of us will be fine. As long as we can keep our minds
So the marrying of IBM cognitive computing with assistive technologies is really going to help us get
to the future.
What is the impact of the human state? We are hiring 25 interns with disabilities and bringing them
into the lab. I don't know anyone else who has done that en masse. Those are the opportunities you
find at IBM.
These are not things you do overnight in a garage but they make big differences.
If we can solve cancer, cure cancer, improve the life of a patient, make our lives better, that is what
we are going to do.
I want to thank you for your attention, it is a pleasure to be here, a pleasure to represent Frances
West, I love being an IBMer, I love inclusive design, I love working with people with disabilities, the
carers, this area, it really is exciting.
It is very rewarding for me, personally. To see how it has improved my wife's life, my sons’. I thank
you for your attention. Thank you very much.
Thank you, Phil, for sharing your career journey and, most importantly thank you for sharing your
personal story of disability. It is a great point you make about universal design out of the box, it has
made a huge difference to our community.
I would now like to introduce Dr Charles Plott, who is a Professor of Economics and Political Science
at California Institute of Technology. He has produced some of the most fundamental discoveries in
economic and political sciences but particularly around market design. Can everyone welcome Dr
Charles Plott to the stage?
Thank you very much, it is a pleasure to be here. I must say the discussion we just heard is very
exciting because it interfaces with what I am going to say in an important way. It is fantastic to hear
of the basic research and applied work that IBM is doing.
I interface in the following way. If I look at the research that IBM is doing, the focus is on how can I
get what is on the inside to the outside? How can I connect the thoughts, the emotions, to the
As an economist I am interested in the second half of that. Once it is out, what are we going to do
with that? How are things organised to take advantage of what we know?
There are two steps to this. How is this information used to organise our society and economy to
deliver things that currently are not being produced? That is an economics problem.
That is the question. We are listening, we are here, how do we help people get what they want?
Economics is built from competition and scarce resources. We cannot give everyone everything they
want. There has to be a process of choice.
The sad thing about economics, which is sometimes called the dismal science, is each person has
their own purposes and they are in competition. How do we resolved that? Especially when a large
segment of the population has disability.
The first step is efficiency. How do we maximise the bang for the buck? Efficiency doesn't just
happen. No one is watching the store, it depends how things are organised. The question is – how
can we organise things so that the process adjusts itself to deliver to those who are expressing their
It has to be done efficiently, which will value creation. How does it happen? I want to drop back a
little bit and say, the markets we are accustomed to seeing do not do what we want them to do.
They are not organised to deliver services that people with disability need. They are organised for
large-scale financial transactions. Where we have tons of data, we know how to organise those
markets but it has not been our focus to organise for these special, thin markets where competition
hardly exists. How do we do that?
I will give you a concrete example - transportation services for children with disabilities - to show
you roughly how that can work and how it differs from the type of market that you might have
Let me emphasise the bottom line. It is the case that, given our modern technologies, the problems
that we thought were unsolvable, we are now seeing they are solvable. Technology is a fundamental
part of that. We are using it in special ways.
We will talk about a new form of market for disability carry. It has two basic features, it is choiceguided and market-coordinated. Choice-guided means that it is customer directed and in this case
would be financed by payments or vouchers.
Recipients will choose their levels, type, and cost. The objective is to put that decision in the hands
of the consumer, as the market should. But who will deliver these?
We focus on a diverse set of suppliers. All types of transportation, it need not be bus, taxi or
ambulance, it could be many types of delivery services that exist. The question is – how can we coordinate this diverse group of resources to specialise to meet the needs of people with a disability?
It is market-coordinated which means we will have to design special forms of markets. The markets
you see were not designed to solve these problems, they were designed to solve other types of
problems, especially in finance or commerce.
Those meet special types of conditions. The types of conditions we see require coordination and
great detail about what someone wants, specialisation in terms of the supplier, coordinating with
other suppliers, things that do not exist in current markets.
We have the capacity to go back to ground one and design markets from first principles, designed
for the purpose of solving these types of problems. The problem we focus on is simple
transportation. The problem is – how do you get the kids to school?
Let me digress just a little bit, markets happen like an invisible hand, no one sees the efficiency. As
we begin to study economics we understand what is happening underneath as competition evolves.
I want to give you a little idea of what that looks like. It comes from Adam Smith, he is the first to
notice this. You would like to think everyone has heard about the invisible hand, but what happens is
the invisible hand and the specialisation that takes place turns out to be the source of almost all the
wealth, how we live, in our environment. How does it happen?
Here is a simple example. Let me turn around so I can see what you see. Here are a number of items,
the first person places a value of 10, then 8, so on. There are people that want those assets. This
person would pay 15, 10. Here is a list of potential payments.
If you ask this person how much would you pay, "Would you pay 15?" And if he thought he could get
it cheaper, he would say, "No, it's worth 5 to me."
It is people that want to improve their position, strategically interacting.
We have to get these values, now let's think about the wealth. If no trades occur, add up, the wealth
is 32. If you trade, you might think this person should trade with him, right down the list, we end up
with ownership moving from here to here and the value is 49.
You would say, "We certainly increased the wealth, that's 53%."
From the trade alone we can increase the wealth by 50%. But that is not an efficient trade.
Those who are high-cost traders, who value what they have a lot, they don't trade, they keep what
they have. The low-cost providers sell. Those who don't value it very much don't.
We end up with a 97% increase in wealth. That is the idea of efficiency, you don't use the expensive
stuff, those who place little value on what they are getting don't get it, it goes to those who do value
It goes to those who place a higher value on it.
This is what it means to get a big bang for the buck in terms of efficiency. In an Adam Smith sense, a
cost benefit analysis, you can see a lot of benefits of supply and demand, these people end up
buying, these people end up selling, these high quality producers do not sell, these people get the
We can see that in fact, trade increases value. That is efficiency. The only problem is, with
disabilities, we are talking about one or two people, very small numbers of people, very specialised
services. How does that work?
OK, so, we will focus on the student disability transportation problem. These are students who are
being taught at a very specialised school. They are bussed, the government contracts the bus
company, the children spend hours commuting, it is costly, it appears they do not accommodate
special needs very well. The timing is inflexible, few options are available for students and parents,
performance differs across most bus companies.
That is the problem we are facing, it might not be this bad, it might be worse, that is the student
transportation problem. We want to decentralise, utilise new potential solutions, respond to
parents, special accommodations, training.
These are not free even though we know what people want. We will select the most efficient
options, there are many, many technical hurdles. Solving even some of the smallest technical
problems are as difficult as making changes at the biggest airport.
What can be delivered? It should be delivered according to family priorities. It should reflect service
providers’ costs and it should deliver routes that are efficient.
How will this work? It is two-sided. Families will place a bid, saying what they want. On the supply
side, it can be a large number. Service providers are going to be in competition for this business. This
process can go round and round, it is quite fast and can be extremely efficient.
The idea is to find efficient matches. It has to provide the services, cover the cost of the service
providers, and provide cost minimisation on the routes.
Here is an example of a case where a service provider lists vehicles he is willing to provide and also
lists the services that would be on that vehicle if it is provided, and the cost at which he is willing to
provide that vehicle.
He is willing to provide these vehicles at different prices, these vehicles have different features. The
vehicle providers say which vehicles they are willing to provide and the cost.
There will be competition. Some will provide more than others, the guy with the least costs is going
to get the business. What about on the demand side?
Everything is going to be a point and click. The person says features, Q1, Q2, it could be a
wheelchair... He says I do want Q1, if Q2 is there, that's fine, here is the amount I am willing to bid.
Here is my current bid. The system tells him that if he wants this to be a winner, here is what he has
to pay.
He might change his bid. Notice he says, “I like it.” But he could have said, “I must have it.” He
actually refined the nature of the bid. Here is the locations, the route from school to person number
one. The bid is coming in from students. The system configures the routes that satisfies the student
demand. There are many possible routes. And here is the way the bidding would work.
One vehicle services this set. Another vehicle picks up this set. This student did not bid enough to get
on this vehicle. He refines his bid. Here is the choice, increase the bid or find something else.
Remember, economics is not nice, it works by competition and we have to do service to students
who value it the most.
This student increases the bid. When that happens... Notice that the routes change. It is cheaper if
the student is in there. It may be cheaper to do a different route with a different vehicle. This
student increases his bid and, as a result, is on a ride.
The vehicle providers can change automatically. In other words, the market, given the bids, can solve
these problems immediately and tell them who should be on that bus, given the priorities they are
willing to pay.
It happens on the supply side as well. Here we have two vehicles willing to serve. Suppose a large
bus provider says, “I can service that a lot cheaper.” Everyone on the route will get service for less
money. He can make the bid.
As a result, the system says the bus owner will service them all. Now I have the bus competing with
two vehicle providers. But here is the bus owner, now I can have individual service providers placing
their bid and the system says it is more efficient to use three or four vehicles, then one vehicle.
The system would immediately change to force the bus owner to either lower his price or provide
another type of service. That can go back and forth. They can be multiple service providers
simultaneously. This all happens very fast.
At the end of the process, the winning buyers pay for their bid. The winning sellers are paid their
price. A variety of sellers can compete. The allocation is efficient in every economic sense and if
there is any excess, that would be the process.
With this type of process taking place it means that the stage can be set in a way such that the
service providers can plan. We are talking about contracts.
The technology is emerging, in this case from those who need it. The markets and technology are
constructed service by service and in this world there is no possibility of one size fits all.
Not only did the special needs of this population create difficulties, the special need to create a
market also creates difficulties.
I think I can quit with that. Thank you very much.
Thank you very much, Dr Charles Plott. Just a reminder the Twitter hashtag is #NDISConf. I would
now like to introduce Dr Jordan Nguyen. He has a Ph.D. in biomechanical engineering. He uses
cameras to provide the wheelchair user with autonomous guidance systems.
Jordan is also the founder and CEO of Psykinetic, which seeks to improve the lives of people with
disability through exciting innovations in biomedical and intelligent robotic technologies.
He also works on new communication devices, eye tracking cognitive assessments, and is working on
a screening tool to aid in early diagnosis of autism in infants. Welcome to the stage, Dr Jordan
How are we all going? I am going to start with a little bit about my trip here. Anyone from Sydney?
Yay, 10 of us. Who is from Queensland? Make some noise.
Anywhere else? Texas? (Laughs)
On my way over here, I will start with a little bit about the Digital Dreams thing we did yesterday, I
got to hear from people about how they would like to use technology, how they currently use
A young guy, Bailey, he needed technology to help him remember things throughout the day. I think
I do as well.
This is a photo taken right after the security scan. The guy asked, "Is this your bag?" I said, "Yes." He
said, "Anything bad in it? Ever carry knives?" I said, "No, never."
I forgot I had packed lunch. He ended up taking out this huge, menacing looking steak knife. I was
like, "Sorry, sorry... You are doing a really good job." He was good about it, "You are just testing me,
aren't you?"
I had never been to Brisbane before, you have got a great city, it is really nice to be here. Thanks to
the NDIS for bringing me along.
I would like to talk about my path through technology, how I have got involved in that sector. This is
my family, they are all wonderful people, all my brothers and sister have got into the thing they want
to do as well. My brothers and sister are triplets, I was three years old when the triplets came along.
I think my parents wanted one more kid and got three.
My dad is a biomedical engineer, I followed his footsteps without meaning to. My mum is an artist.
This is a picture of my cat. I was asked to throw one in.
This is a picture of me when I was little. I got started with technology early, mostly because of my
dad. My dad took duplo blocks in to work so his robot could play with them. It would pick up blocks
on a conveyor belt, watch the blocks, go down and pick it up and move it somewhere else.
That seems simple to do, pick up a block that is moving slowly, move it somewhere else, but it is not
for a robot. You have to program everything, the shape of the block, the perceived size compared to
the actual size, what the actual size of the block is, how it will get its claw around it, what speed it is
travelling at, how it will intercept, it cannot instantly teleport, it has its own limitations.
Instead of programming all these things, they programmed artificial intelligence. The robot would
try, miss, try again, miss, until it could pick up the block and move it around.
It started learning chess. It was great, seeing this robot learning for itself. I wanted to go into
robotics and artificial intelligence.
What I want to go into today is a lot about the technology. This is split into areas of what I have
noticed about technology.
The NDIS is wonderful for what it is going to do for technology and disability.
What got me into this sector, in uni in my third year of electrical engineering, I wanted to go to
robotics but I was not doing very well. I dived off a diving board in a backyard pool, I started getting
a bit silly, one dive went horribly wrong, I hit my head on the bottom and heard this huge crunch in
my neck.
The X-ray showed no fractures, no breakages, I was very lucky, but I was stuck in bed, not able to roll
over. That day, what it did to me, was one of the best things that could have happened. I started to
perceive life and the world in a different way.
I started to think about if this was a permanent thing. I didn't know anything about disability, I
started looking into it, reading stories, watching videos on the net, meeting people.
I met some amazing people who expressed themselves through technology, who have been early
adopters of different types of technology, I just thought it was amazing. People communicating
through devices, expressing themselves artistically.
My friend Jess is an amazing, artist, graphic designer, running her own business. She was able to use
smart devices, connected to a camera, control the camera through the smart device, such a great
method of repurposing mainstream technology so she could build her own career doing something
she absolutely loves.
This is some of her work. She released a coffee table album. Her work is mind-blowing. She pushes
the limit. She has toppled her wheelchair, gets it bogged in sand, never lets it stop her. I love seeing
Jess express herself through the technology.
Then we have the famous Stephen Hawking. Technology can bring out the inner person, the
brilliance that Stephen Hawking has. We want to know if there are other Stephen Hawkings.
You can be whatever you want to be, sometimes technology gives you that extra boost.
In the Digital Dreams session, Emma Green told us how she uses technology to stay connected with
her friends, with the world. We heard about not only how technology is currently being used but the
dreams for where it could go.
We heard about having robotic arms, having the arm pick things up for you. These things are around
in some forms, but they are only going to get better. Reversing cameras, they should be on
wheelchairs if needed. I mean, they are on cars, how hard is it to put it on a wheelchair? Sometimes
the ideas can be small, sometimes big.
What I ended up going into with my research, once I found my space in electrical engineering, I
wanted to go on to working on technologies for the higher levels. I saw a story about a lady from
Adelaide who had a stroke, locked in syndrome, I had never heard of it. I wanted to go into designing
wheelchairs that could be controlled on any level.
She could control her eye movements, her husband would watch her eye movements and turn the
letters into words and sentences.
I wanted to know how someone in this position could control a wheelchair. What are the levels of
control available? This was in 2006 and I found that the level of control was the joystick, the chin
stick, and then a puffer, which Christopher Reeve used.
Beyond that, there was nothing to control the wheelchair. And today, it is still developing, the way
we interact with machines and I think we will see a big boost in the sector soon.
I wanted to start with something that I thought was impossible. I wanted to imagine controlling a
wheelchair with the power of the mind. What I did was I worked on it for a long time and ended up
finding a way. I did my undergraduate thesis on this challenge and did my doctorate on it as well.
I wanted to figure out a way of having mind control with a power wheelchair in a way that was safe.
We will start with the mind control. What we have is this device that was designed in the Centre for
Health Technologies at UTS. It is like an amplifier, we are picking up on brainwaves. It is non-invasive,
you can hide it in a hat or headband. Brainwaves get filtered and amplified and the wheelchair is a
smart chair. The wheelchair itself is a robot with cameras.
Here is a picture of a horse.
I modelled the vision system on the vision system of a horse. Horses can see in 3D in front of them. I
get the wheelchair to do the same thing but rotated so it sees it from above so it can create a map. I
give it 360° of vision with cameras. It can see everything around it and, just like the reversing camera
idea, the wheelchair can see everything that is going on around it. It can make its own decisions
about how to steer and make it safe.
This is a friend of mine, Albert, who had a motorbike accident and broke his neck about five years
ago. He wanted to test this chair. The headband holds the electrodes that are picking up his
brainwaves, he is communicating when he wants to change direction.
He doesn't want to do all the manoeuvring because that makes you quite tired. He is just selecting
when he wants to change direction. Here he tells it to go through that signpost and the wheelchair
goes around, making it safe.
They make it safe. Like riding a horse, if you try to steer a horse into a tree, hopefully the horse will
go around it. It is called shared control, where the user and the wheelchair are sharing control. The
wheelchair is trying to do what its operator wants it to do and make the travel safe.
It will watch for obstacles and try to avoid them. Robotics is advancing so quickly, why should any
sector be left behind? Robots are making a big comeback. Everyone knew about them and then they
became more hidden, they ended up in devices that did not look what we think a robot should look
Next year we have Jibo and Buddy coming. These will be able to help you with everyday tasks. If we
think about how new devices and new technology can be more accessible, we can think about it
right from the start and that is where a lot of the technology markets are going, and should be going.
These devices can remind you of things you have got on, Buddy can go round your home and
monitor your home. If you are not at home and something is not right, Buddy will call you, like a
guard dog that has learnt to use a mobile phone.
And then, through your smart phone, you can see through the eyes of Buddy and take over control
of Buddy to make sure your home is safe. These things are great, there are many new innovations
coming out in many areas which we can all benefit from.
There is another robot here called Pepper. These will be able to hold up conversations with people,
tell them what is going on when they turn up to a venue. And also tell what is happening with their
emotional state. If Pepper is telling you a story you don't want to hear, it will probably realise and
switch halfway through its story.
It will learn what you want to hear. These are all things that will eventually go into aged care. In aged
care homes and nursing homes, it is strange, maybe that you will be having conversations with a
robot, but once you build up rapport with a robot, they can become like a companion. It is not to
replace nurses, but we do have an ageing population, but it would be great if robots could hold up a
This is where the future is going. If we are going to dream of technologies, we need to know where
things are going.
Next year we have commercial virtual reality devices, augmented reality devices. Sometimes we
don't know how that is going to help but with accessibility built into it from the start, that will be
They have these big headsets, a bit strange, we won't see people walking around on the street with
them. People think they might be the same as Google Glass. These have different applications,
sometimes we can't see them at first.
Gaming and entertainment, but they might change the way we experience cinema. If we could
experience cinema through the eyes of one of the characters, it is a whole new interactive way of
experiencing. It will augment and provide new options.
What are some applications specifically for disability that might help? We already know about
phantom limb pain, when someone is missing a limb and experiencing phantom limb pain, we know
that mirror box therapy... If someone can see they have an arm, even if they don't, that is more
effective than the strongest pain relief on the market.
If you have got an arm and your brain is trying to make the arm move, it can do that in the virtual
world, it tells the brain your arm is fine, it can be great for working with phantom limb pain.
Virtual tourism, I find this one really, really exciting, it was something I was looking into about eight
years ago. When I was working on my wheelchair I said we have got 3D vision, 360°, we could have
travelled the world and filmed everything in 350° vision for when virtual reality comes back.
I was asked, "When is virtual reality making a comeback?" I said, "No idea." And then the Oculus Rift
came out.
It will be great, anyone can kick back at lunchtime and see what the other side of the world looks
like. It will not be replacing the real thing, the concept of travel, but it means sometimes we will not
see everything in the world, not everyone will see every place in the world.
If you can see the places you might not have on your list of travel destinations, that is fantastic, you
can see it from the perspective of actually being there.
I have taken a few people through virtual tourism experiences, you might see that at the end of this
presentation. I know there are sometimes difficulties in travelling, one of our clients at Cerebral
Palsy Alliance isn't going to be able to travel as easily as he would like and will not see as many
places in the world as he would like, so we set up virtual tourism so he could see what the other side
of the world was like.
I did a virtual tourism experience in Iceland, got to experience it as if I was there. It is really exciting,
we are living in a rapidly changing world.
Technology might also adapt a lot more in the disability diagnosis space. So what happened after my
Ph.D., I worked for the biggest biomedical company in Australia. One year in I was offered a very big
promotion that would have taken up my life. That was my fork in the road.
I got a grant for my next smart wheelchair, the Cerebral Palsy Alliance asked if I would go and work
for them, I said yes.
The Cerebral Palsy Alliance, they were working on the general movements assessment. I found that
really exciting and just important research. To be able to train a nurse to be able to look at an infant,
to watch their movements, whether it is in real life or through video, score the movements of that
infant to work out whether they have cerebral palsy, that early diagnosis can allow for early
We have neuroplasticity throughout our lives, the ability for the brain to rewire itself is there, we
used to think we lost it, now we know it is throughout our entire lives, it just goes down. That is why
kids learn so rapidly when they are young, they have a very plastic brain, it is very mouldable.
The first year and a half of life is the crucial time to work out if a child has cerebral palsy, we can get
therapy exercises in place. I looked at this process and said this is fantastic, it is important research.
The current initiative, we are getting nurses trained in hospitals throughout Australia.
The problem is when there are no biomarkers, we know when something has gone wrong in the
birth or something, so then they go to the general movements system. I thought, how can we make
it so no child goes undiagnosed?
I went to the gaming market, systems designed for us to be able to control games through
movement. They track our movement, everything that is happening, so they can motion capture that
into a game of ordained characters, so the game characters are doing the same thing.
Adapting that technology to have it model out what the infant is doing in the cot at three months,
whether its movements indicate it might have cerebral palsy. The device is able to turn on and watch
those movements.
This is my main project within the Cerebral Palsy Alliance, I am getting towards the end of the first
phase to work out if it is feasible. Now we are looking into smart devices and adapting them over to
our needs. And a simulation of what we are trying to achieve from it. To have the device, work out
automatically what the movements of the child are, model those motions and then work out
whether the child might be at high risk of cerebral palsy or even potentially autism.
Further down the track we might be able to work out potentially many other disabilities as well, to
be able to hopefully diagnose earlier. So they can go through to manual diagnosis. If they are at high
risk, that is one potential thing technology could do to get them diagnosed earlier.
Apple, IBM and Microsoft are looking at integrating new technology for disabilities, which is
fantastic, that is what we believe in too.
Telstra worked with the Cerebral Palsy Alliance towards creating Remarkable, Australia's first
technology incubator for disability.
We will see many people getting into the space, we want to take that and boost it further, make
sure more people are developing technology that is either assistive technology or inclusive, smart
devices, it doesn't matter, we want to find out people's ideas and help them on that journey.
It would be great if we see those big companies getting on board to be able to incubate technology
for disability.
Technology to excite, this is exciting for me, my social enterprise Psykinetic, I want to take my smart
wheelchair to the next phase. I have built a team of passionate people, not just engineers, not just
the geeky side, although we do love all the intricacies and the complex stuff behind the scenes.
But we have designers, artists, story creators, we want to make it exciting. It is exciting for us and
exciting for our potential customers to be able to work with them on what is needed, desired and
exciting. We want to create stories, excitement, creatures, animations, people can get to know those
characters which become the assistive technology we are designing.
We are looking at bringing technology and design all together so we can have mobility,
communication, connection, all in the one device.
So these are the sorts of things I have been working on with the group and the partners around me
and it has been an amazing journey so far. The NDIS is giving a boost to the sector, a boost to people
who are working with technology for disability.
We are going to have so many choices to have that power to steer where technology is going. I want
you to think about – what are you going to do with the technology? It is not just about assisting our
day-to-day lives, it is about how we will express ourselves and how technology will play a role.
If I was not able to use computers, I could not do any of the work I do. Think about that. Dream big.
We want you to be curious. Think about what you want to do with technology. Will you be able to
help others? Will you be able to find the cure for cancer? Will you be the next Stephen Hawking?
The future is you. Thank you very much.
Thank you, Jordan. I found that mind-directed wheelchair footage amazing. Before we break for
lunch, I would like to thank our generous sponsors for making this event possible. IBM, Telstra,
Microsoft, Tunstall, Westpac, SAP, Assessments Australia, Carelink+, CPL, House with No Steps,
Multicap, Coloplast, MAX Employment, Just Better Care, Able Australia, Australia Post and Ernst &
Young. Thank you.
There have been some late changes for this afternoon's sessions. The Informed session will now
include Jeff Cole and Peter Ford and the 3 PM Engaged session will include Brian Lee-Archer from
We are now going to break for lunch. I would encourage you to see the trade show. Our afternoon
session starts back here in one hour and 15 minutes. Thank you.
Just to let you know, the speakers will stay to answer questions down at the front.

09.30-11.45 Day 2 - Plenary - NDIS MATTHEW WRIGHT: Please