Tools for Sleeping Well While Traveling

Some of us have enough trouble sleeping in our beds at home, let alone while traveling or changing time zones.

There are those who drift off by instructing their Amazon Alexa or Google Home to play recordings of babbling brooks and cicadas. Others listen to podcasts like “Sleep With Me” which tells dull bedtime stories. Some watch YouTube videos of people whispering or performing mundane tasks, or listen to electronic and ambient music, like the British group Marconi Union’s “Weightless (Ambient Transmissions Vol. 2),” which has been reported to induce deep relaxation.

What might do the trick for you?

More and more smartphone apps are promising solutions. They join the ranks of traditional white noise and sleep machines with settings said to aid relaxation or alleviate jet lag. Yet such gadgets, even so-called portable models that come with their own cases, are clunkier and more costly than apps. The Tranquil Moments Bedside Speaker & Sleep Sounds from Brookstone, for instance, has a dozen sounds (like ocean surf and rain); is portable and more intuitive to use than most sleep machines; has a nice clear sound (the speaker can also pair with your smartphone for when you want to play your own music); and it can be made loud enough to drown out noisy neighbors, which not all devices, and especially not all apps, can do. Yet it’s $99.99, about the size of a large softball, and weighs approximately half a pound. (If you’re in the market for a bedside white noise machine, Wirecutter, the gear-and-gadget recommendation site that is part of The New York Times company, recommends the LectroFan by ASTI and the Marpac Dohm DS, each about $49.95.)

Wheelchair users enjoy new freedom, thanks to “smart” sensors from Braze Mobility

“Cars have sensors. Why can’t wheelchairs?”

That was the question that consumed Dr. Pooja Viswanathan for almost a decade – so much so that she started Braze Mobility, a company that manufactures sensors for wheelchairs. As its CEO and co-founder, she is helping to revolutionize the industry and make the world a safer, more accessible place for people with disabilities.

Viswanathan has always been passionate about computer science and how it can be used to improve accessibility. “The only reason I got into computer science was because I wanted to have an impact on healthcare and quality of life,” says Viswanathan, a post-doctoral researcher at the University of Toronto.

She was first drawn to the area of mobility when she was working on a project with older adults with dementia. A visit to a long-term care facility gave her a better understanding of the obstacles the residents face. “I saw first-hand that a lot of the residents there were not even allowed to use powered mobility because of concerns about their cognitive impairment,” she recalls.

Canada a leader in student-founded startups: OECD working paper

Students attending Canadian universities have emerged as world leaders when it comes to launching startup companies – a trend that bodes well for the future of the country’s economy.

A recent working paper by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development suggests Canada leads other countries when it comes to “student entrepreneurship,” ahead of Australia, India and even the United States.

The OECD report, based on data from Calif.-based startup database Crunchbase, defines a student entrepreneur as someone who has launched a company within four years since starting a bachelor of science degree.

Though the report didn’t break down the contribution of invididual Canadian institutions, the University of Toronto has played a major role when it comes to turning innovative ideas and inventions into research-based startups.

“Increasingly, many of our students want to create their own jobs of the future” said Derek Newton, U of T’s assistant vice-president of innovation, partnerships and entrepreneurship. “So U of T, with the help of our partners, has built an expansive network of entrepreneurship support programs which are turning innovative ideas and research into successful companies.”

Predicting Dementia Earlier – in a Manner of Speaking

If dementia could be diagnosed earlier in patients, or even predict who might develop the disease later in life, it would mean nothing short of a revolution in dementia care. If caught early enough, steps could be taken that might prevent or delay its onset. With one in 10 Canadians at risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease after age 65, research on early detection is progressing rapidly.

One exciting area of research involves using speech recognition. “Language is the lens into your cognition,” says research scientist Frank Rudzicz, a co-founder of Toronto-based WinterLight Labs. Rudzicz and software developer/fellow co-founder Liam Kaufman are part of a team that developed a tablet-based speech analyzer to detect dementia in its early stages.

WinterLight’s invention, which relies on artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, works like this: A clinician records the speech of a patient describing a picture. Then, the speech analyzer extracts about 400 variables from the speech samples, examining linguistic cues that may point to early cognitive impairment. Variables include pitch, tone, rhythm and rate of speech, as well as pauses and word choice. The analyzer can also detect subtle differences in shimmer – a measure of voice instability beyond the range of human hearing. As Kaufman notes, the tool picks up on speech differences that he has sensed in people with dementia but could not articulate.

The Silanna Group Acquires Appulse Power

The Silanna Group today announced that it had completed its acquisition of Appulse Power. Appulse Power will be integrated into The Silanna Group’s worldwide semiconductor organization and will broaden Silanna’s Power Management portfolio to include highly efficient AC-DC converters and controllers.

Appulse Power is the second company that The Silanna Group has acquired while the companies were being incubated in EvoNexus. In 2012, The Silanna Group acquired IO Semiconductor while it was part of the EvoNexus incubator.

U of T Engineering spin-off Appulse Power acquired by Silanna Semiconductor

Appulse Power Inc., a startup company founded by U of T Engineering alumni Ahsan Zaman (ElecE 0T9, ECE MASc 1T2, PhD 1T5), Behzad Mahdavikhah (ECE PhD 1T4), Aleksandar Radić (ECE PhD 1T4) and Professor Aleksandar Prodić (ECE), has been acquired by the multinational Silanna Semiconductor for an undisclosed amount.

“The success of Appulse is credit to the incredible talent and dedication of my three co-founders,” says Prodić. “This team has brought us into one of the biggest sales for an early-stage Canadian startup in the power electronics semiconductor industry, and I’m extremely proud of their accomplishments.”­­

Appulse designs application-specific integrated circuits to allow devices, including smartphones and tablets, to charge faster and consume less power. Its innovations enable more efficient charging and smaller components both inside and external to devices — this means shrinking the footprint required for power management inside mobile devices, and downsizing clunky chargers and adapters.

Cosmetics giant L’Oreal buys Toronto augmented reality startup ModiFace

When University of Toronto engineering professor Parham Aarabi first began researching face tracking technology, it never occurred to him that his resulting startup would later be snapped up by the world’s biggest cosmetics company, L’Oreal.

In fact, Aarabi thought the initial application of what is now ModiFace’s lip and eye tracking capabilities would be speech recognition in noisy environments, he said.

“What happened was I realized, and we initially realized, that this technology had a lot of use for cosmetic simulations,” said Aarabi, ModiFace’s chief executive, in an interview. “For example, showcasing lipstick products, because we had the exact boundary of the lips.”

On Friday, 11 years after Aarabi founded the Toronto-based startup, L’Oreal announced it was acquiring ModiFace as part of its digital acceleration strategy.

Paris-based cosmetics giant acquiring ModiFace

When University of Toronto engineering professor Parham Aarabi first began researching face tracking technology, it never occurred to him that his resulting startup would later be snapped up by the world’s biggest cosmetics company, L’Oréal.

In fact, Aarabi thought the initial application of what is now ModiFace’s lip and eye tracking capabilities would be speech recognition in noisy environments, he said.

“What happened was I realized, and we initially realized, that this technology had a lot of use for cosmetic simulations,” said Aarabi, ModiFace’s chief executive, in an interview. “For example, showcasing lipstick products, because we had the exact boundary of the lips.”

On Friday, 11 years after Aarabi founded the Toronto-based startup, L’Oréal announced it was acquiring ModiFace as part of its digital acceleration strategy.

L’Oreal buys Toronto startup ModiFace

When University of Toronto engineering professor Parham Aarabi first began researching face tracking technology, it never occurred to him that his resulting startup would later be snapped up by the world’s biggest cosmetics company, L’Oreal.

In fact, Aarabi thought the initial application of what is now ModiFace’s lip and eye tracking capabilities would be speech recognition in noisy environments, he said.

“What happened was I realized, and we initially realized, that this technology had a lot of use for cosmetic simulations,” said Aarabi, ModiFace’s chief executive, in an interview. “For example, showcasing lipstick products, because we had the exact boundary of the lips.”

Cosmetics giant L’Oreal buys Toronto augmented reality startup ModiFace

When University of Toronto engineering professor Parham Aarabi first began researching face tracking technology, it never occurred to him that his resulting startup would later be snapped up by the world’s biggest cosmetics company, L’Oreal.

In fact, Aarabi thought the initial application of what is now ModiFace’s lip and eye tracking capabilities would be speech recognition in noisy environments, he said.

“What happened was I realized, and we initially realized, that this technology had a lot of use for cosmetic simulations,” said Aarabi, ModiFace’s chief executive, in an interview. “For example, showcasing lipstick products, because we had the exact boundary of the lips.”

On Friday, 11 years after Aarabi founded the Toronto-based startup, L’Oreal announced it was acquiring ModiFace as part of its digital acceleration strategy.