DarwinAI and Red Hat Team Up on COVID Screening

DarwinAI, a Kitchener-Waterloo-based artificial intelligence startup, today announced a strategic collaboration with Red Hat, one of the world's leading providers of open source solutions, to accelerate the deployment of COVID-Net—a suite of deep neural networks for COVID-19 detection and risk stratification via chest radiography—to hospitals and other healthcare facilities.

DarwinAI and IBM subsidiary Red Hat are also leveraging the expertise of a computation research group at Boston Children's Hospital for this project. Working with the Fetal Neonatal Neuroimaging and Developmental Science Center (FNNDSC) will allow them to better focus the software for real-world clinical and research use, the project's organizers said.

COVID-Net was launched in March with the aim of providing computer-aided diagnostic to more efficiently direct scarce medical resources, DarwinAI's CEO Sheldon Fernandez said in an earlier blog post. COVID-Net has been leveraged by researchers in Italy, Canada, Spain, Malaysia, the U.S and India, he said.

Since the launch of COVID-Net by DarwinAI and the University of Waterloo's Vision and Imaging Processing (VIP) Lab, the project has continued to evolve with assistance, participation and collaboration from researchers and clinicians around the world, the company says. The initiative eventually led to a collaboration between DarwinAI and Red Hat.

DarwinAI and Red Hat are working together to make it easier for clinicians to use COVID-Net in hospitals via a web-based graphical user interface (GUI) that sits atop Boston Children's ChRIS framework using Red Hat's OpenShift enterprise Kubernetes platform, which supports deployments across complex hybrid and multicloud infrastructures.

"Improving clinical care and outcomes through cutting edge computational research is core to the mission of Boston Children's FNNDSC," said Rudolph Pienaar, assistant professor in radiology at Harvard Medical School, and lead technical architect of ChRIS. "Our open source ChRIS platform allows for the rapid development and deployment of novel AI solutions in practically any setting. We are thrilled to help deploy COVID-Net on ChRIS with DarwinAI and leverage Red Hat OpenShift. We believe this effort can result in screening many cases at tremendous scale and help focus healthcare where it is most needed as quickly as possible."

DarwinAI provides an "explainability" platform for deep learning development based on its Generative Synthesis technology, called GenSynth Explain. Explainable AI (XAI) is a type of AI focused on illuminating how neural networks reach their decisions. DarwinAI's CEO, Sheldon Fernandez, has argued that the lack of understanding around AI's decision-making process has hampered the widespread adoption of AI.

"The 'black box' problem that plagues AI — our inability to peek inside exotic neural networks and understand how they work — represents one of the most urgent moral and business imperatives of our time," Fernandez said.

DarwinAI recently employed this explainability platform in a collaboration  collaborated with Lockheed Martin with this technology to improve the global aerospace company's customers' understanding of AI solutions.

"Our mission is to help people build AI they can trust, and the development of COVID-Net is a topical and timely manifestation of that goal," Fernandez said in a recent statement. "The COVID-Net system is a promising tool, but needs to be coupled with a compelling GUI to be effective. Boston Children's ChRIS framework and the Red Hat OpenShift platform provides an effective way to get COVID-Net into the hands of health care professionals on the front lines."

DarwinAI's Generative Synthesis platform enabled its team to develop COVID-Net in under a week, and on March 22 it was open-sourced and made publicly available to the research and international clinical community. The COVID-Net initiative has received global support and contribution from around 20 clinical institutes and healthcare providers around the world including Canada, U.S., Spain, India, and Malaysia.

About the Author

John K. Waters is the editor in chief of a number of sites, with a focus on high-end development, AI and future tech. He's been writing about cutting-edge technologies and culture of Silicon Valley for more than two decades, and he's written more than a dozen books. He also co-scripted the documentary film Silicon Valley: A 100 Year Renaissance, which aired on PBS.  He can be reached at