Smart video monitoring company iWatchLife combines university research excellence and industry market savvy.

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When Dr. Robert Laganière, professor at uOttawa’s School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science developed an intelligent video surveillance system, he knew it had the potential to change the field of video surveillance. He did not know, however, that in a few short years, global consumer electronics company Samsung would be distributing it through the latest version of their home monitoring camera.

With the help of the University of Ottawa’s Technology Transfer and Business Enterprise office, Dr. Laganière secured prototype and commercialization funding from the Ottawa Technology Transfer Network, NSERC and OCE. This resulted in a start up company founded by Dr. Laganière, his students, and the University of Ottawa.

Soon after, Dr. Laganière met Charles Black, CEO of Telewatch. Together, they pursued the emerging market for consumer video monitoring and formed a new company called iWatchLife.

“The partnership with Dr. Laganière’s team enabled us to capitalize on the emerging market for home monitoring by bringing to market one of the first cloud based monitoring systems that you could access from any device” says Charles Black.

iWatchLife provides consumers with the power to monitor their property and their loved ones from almost anywhere, with little cost, and by focussing their attention only to activities that are of greatest concern to them. This includes alerting people to things like medical emergencies or break-ins at their home.

As of 2013, professor Laganière works as chief scientist at iWatchLife. The company has 15 employees, the majority of them being graduates of uOttawa and several from Dr Laganière’s lab. In addition, the iWatchLife Smart Event Detection product is touching many lives as it is being distributed around the world through a partnership with Samsung.

The iWatchLife story shows the direct impact that academic research can have on industry and society. The University of Ottawa’s Technology Transfer and Business Enterprise office is set up specifically to help companies access technology and build lasting relationships with researchers such as Professor Laganière. In developing such partnerships, companies have a valuable resource to help them adapt to change and grow into emerging market opportunities.

For more information on Robert Laganière’s research visite http://www.site.uottawa.ca/~laganier/research.html

To see how you can benefit from Smart Event Detection, visit the iWatchLife website at www.iwatchlife.com

 Other technologies available for license from the University of Ottawa can be viewed at the Global Technology Portal http://gtp.autm.net/network/university-of-ottawa/technology/index

Better mobility drives University of Ottawa mechanical engineering lab to create new technologies.

Marc Dourmit is an assistant professor in the University of Ottawa’s department of Mechanical Engineering with the very ambitious goal of developing a bionic leg that will bring a new level of freedom and mobility to lower limb amputees. In the US alone, there are 1.7 million people living with limb loss,1 however, there are many challenges in developing a replacement limb as advanced components must be developed and integrated into a package that is safe and reliable while looking and feeling good for the user.

Prosthetics and artificial limb systems have continuously improved with the development of new technologies. Recent advancements include smart adapting microprocessor knees, myoelectric controllers and targeted muscle re-innervation. These enable smarter and more lifelike artificial limbs with rugged and advanced components. Despite such advancements, adapting new technologies into an affordable prosthetic remains a significant challenge.

Professor Dourmit and his students are taking a long term perspective by developing and testing new components for artificial limbs one piece at a time. Many of their components may also be used for other applications. For example, Mr. Dourmit’s team has developed an enhanced pneumatic actuator muscle that is capable of handling up to 10 times more force than standard technology, saving crucial weight and bulk for the leg. These pneumatic muscles could also have industrial , aerospace, and military applications such as weight bearing exoskeletons for military or recreational use, and tactile industrial robotics found on automotive factory lines.

With the demonstrated abilities of this muscle well established, work has now begun in its application to an advanced prosthetic. Brandon Fournier, a 4th year engineering student in Professor Doumit’s lab is testing the muscle’s responsiveness to EMG control as part of his honours project. EMG, or electromyography measures the electrical signal of muscles. These signals are tapped by Mr. Fournier in order to control the muscle, with a view to controlling the artificial leg. He is laying out the groundwork for future projects that will use EMG as well as other inputs in order to control powered prosthetic assistive devices with pneumatic artificial muscles.

We will continue to follow this exciting project and look for new technologies that take Dr. Doumit and his team a step closer to the development of a new bionic leg. In parallel, we will be looking for other applications in order to transfer the technologies into companies that will integrate them into other products.

To see the pneumatic muscle in action, just click on the video below.

Additional information about the pneumatic artificial muscle can be found at the Autm – Global Technology Portal http://gtp.autm.net/network/university-of-ottawa/technology/view/33967

1. Kathryn Ziegler-Graham, PhD, et al. “Estimating the Prevalence of Limb Loss in the United States – 2005 to 2050,” Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation 89 (2008): 422-429.