Tuesday TED Talk: How can Formula 1 racing help babies


During a Formula 1 race, a car sends hundreds of millions of data points to its garage for real-time analysis and feedback. So why not use this detailed and rigorous data system elsewhere, like … at children’s hospitals? Peter Van Manen tells us more. In a Formula 1 car, there are an insane amount of componentry that comes together to achieve the best performance in motorsport.

  • Chasis – 11,000
  • Engine – 6,000
  • Electronics – 8,500

All of this combines to around 25,000 things that could go wrong. Amazingly the car changes substantially every fortnight, around 5-10% of it, so while they look similar each race meet, in reality, a lot is changed based on what the teams learn from the data.  This data is fed from 120 sensors that track around 13,000 health parameters that’s sent back to the garage at around 2-4 Mbps. These are some staggering numbers, but the important part is the analysis of the data, trends like tyre wear that teams can act on.

Can Manen compares this big data with that, that is available in the medical industry through sensors on the human body. He says that we have a very limited window to act when we detecting things are going wrong. Essentially the point is that we need to collect massive amounts of data about not only an individual, but across humans to better predict when things are about to go wrong, and stop it.

In a test, Manen’s team actually took the F1 data system and installed it on a hospital computer in Birmingham. Using the medical monitoring equipment combined with their software to tease out patterns that allowed them to expose subtle changes. Extending this approach, they moved it to the step before a patient arrives in hospital and moved it to the ambulance to learn this information sooner.

It’s a fascinating talk, one well worth some time in your lunch hour.

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This post is authored by techAU staffers. Used rarely and sparingly when the source decided to keep their identity secret, or a guest author who isn't seeking credit.

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