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Inside The Imagination Game: Start-Ups Aiming To Change Lives

"When I came out of it, I had purpose in life."

12/02/2017 10:55 AM AEDT | Updated 13/02/2017 2:20 PM AEDT
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Robert Quinn, 26, addresses fellow entrepreneurs about his medical start up, Patch'd Medical-- it's a tech-heavy patch that monitor's people's vital signs.

Robert Quinn looked up at the group of doctors standing around his bed and had an idea.

At 22, his liver transplant had come with complications and it meant -- following bouts of physical decline -- he'd have to spend a couple of days in hospital so doctors with various machines could monitor his vitals.

But the time it was taking to measure everything was time stolen from Quinn.

"I've spent a lot of time in hospital. 230 days, in fact," the biotech specialist told a small group of tech entrepreneurs in Sydney on Thursday.

"230 days where I could have been living my life."

So he did what technology specialists do when faced with a bug in the system -- he created a patch.

AOL/Eoin Blackwell
Robert Quinn addresses fellow entrepreneurs in Sydney about his start-up, Patch'd, which aims to allow patients to have their vital signs monitored with an electronic patch.

A literal patch, in fact, that attaches to your chest and measures things such as blood pressure and temperature, sending the information via bluetooth to a phone, and from there to a central location -- ideally a hospital -- for monitoring.

No more wires coming out of your fingers, no more armies of sticky, wired patches all over your body.

"You can send people home early with one of these things," Quinn said.

"Maybe we can diagnose illness before you even have a symptom, that's really exciting."

So, along with 24-year-old Wei-Jien Tan, he co-founded Patch'd Medical, a company with the aim of allowing patients to leave hospital earlier, be diagnosed sooner while preventing unnecessary admissions.

The pair met when working together at Australian biomedical success story Cochlear.

Patch'd Medical is one of eight startups which have been offered up to $60,000 in seed capital investment working with the Sydney arm of start-up incubator, Muru-D, which is in turn is funded by Telstra.

On Thursday the eight entrepreneurs pitched their ideas at Muru-D's Sydney CBD offices.

Like Quinn, Tima Anoshechkin dreams of new worlds, and has turned his life experience growing up in Russia into a unique product aimed at a burgeoning market: multiplayer virtual reality in the form of his game, A Township Tale.

AOL/Eoin Blackwell
"When I came out of it, I had purpose in life." Tima Anoshechkin describes how his youth influenced his creation of VR game A Township Tale

Born with a speech impediment, Anoshechkin's family was told he was "slow" by doctors and should be given over to the care of the state. His mum sent him and his dad to type of farm which he describes as a small shack outside about four hours outside of Moscow.

It was there -- with no friends, no electricity, no hot water, nothing to do but cook and read the only book in the shack, Robinson Crusoe -- that Anoshechkin entered his first virtual reality world.

"Robinson Crusoe was, for me, my first Virtual Reality experience, in which I used my mind as the engine to create it," he said.

"I stayed in this world for, like, six weeks.

"When I came out of it, I had purpose in life."

He became a game developer, working with big name operators such as Rockstar Games and Vivendi Games, which merged with Activision Blizzard.

But it was about two years ago, when VR became a thing, Anoshechkin looked at it and thought "the one thing that's missing, purpose in life."

So he and a small team created Alta, a company which is building what he says is the first long-play, multiplayer game for VR.

In Anoshechkin's words, one of the points of the game is to allow players "to become what they want to become, to rediscover themselves."

Set in a medieval universe, A Township Tale is a sandbox game that allows players to do virtually anything -- talk to your friends, talk to others, be a farmer, be a miner, become a leader, run town like a totalitarian.

"Leadership is a big one. In the real world, leadership is taken away from you," Anoshechkin told the Huffington Post Australia.

"For safety reasons, I don't want you to control the traffic, for example. But there are sometimes when you have to take the initiative.

"Basically you can rediscover your initial selfTima Anoshechkin

"You are in this environment and you can say 'why am I here, how can I improve my life."

For the next six months, start-up entrepreneurs such as Anoshechkin and Quinn will develop their ideas at Muru-D.

Now 26-years-old, Quinn has lived with his liver condition since he was 11, and four years ago received a much needed transplant.

He's been in and out of hospital since then (as recently as three weeks ago, he said.)

"I designed the first concept for this from a hospital bed," he said, referring to Patch'd Medical.

"I'm dreaming that the final concept for this will be outside in the sunshine. It's not going to be in a hospital bed."

Note: This article was amended to include the correct spelling of Wei-Jien Tan's name.

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