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Google Is Backing an Eclectic Group of Startups That Use AI in Health Care

November 1, 2017

Last year, Google CEO Sundar Pichai said the company is moving into an “AI-first world.” As part of its effort to make good on that promise, today Google’s startup incubator, Launchpad Studio, announced its first class of companies—a group of four firms using machine learning to tackle issues in health care.

The cohort, though small, covers a wide spectrum of issues. Augmedix uses Google Glass (yes, it’s still around) to listen to voice commands for record-keeping and team collaboration, along with other administrative tasks that can take up doctors’ time. The company claims to be saving doctors 10 hours a week already and is researching how deep learning and natural-language processing could do even more.

Another startup, BrainQ, helps people move paralyzed limbs again by using AI that identifies patterns in brain waves to create electromagnetic treatments.

Launchpad Studio, which for now is focused solely on health care and biotech firms, isn’t Google’s only attempt at helping nascent AI firms and research get off the ground. Their Gradient Ventures invests in early-stage AI companies, and Google Cloud has a machine-learning competition.

That said, the company has plenty of competition in the AI accelerator space. Element AI, an AI research hub and startup incubator headed by deep learning pioneer Yoshua Bengio, secured $102 million in funding eight months after launching. Playground, run by Android creator Andy Rubin, is a hardware incubator that is very interested in AI. AI Nexus Lab, run out of NYU, has startups in four-month programs with hand-picked mentors for each class.

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