Next Monday is Accessibil-UT, a showcase of accessible technology innovations at U of T. Entrepreneurs at the university have come up with some amazing projects using 3D printers, mobile applications, and wearable technologies. Ahead of the event, here’s a rundown of some of the exhibits you’ll be able to see in action.
Exoswitch from Breqlabs
Exoswitch is a wearable technology from BreqLabs that replaces mechanical buttons, allowing individuals with limit movement to select icons or links on computers and mobile devices with movement. Martin Labrecque is CEO of BreqLabs. He completed his PhD in Computer Engineering at U of T in 2011, followed by a postdoc. BreqLabs is incubated at U of T’s Impact Centre.
Labrecque believes showcases like Accessibl-UT are important to “encourage an open discussion on fair access to information for all.” He adds, “It’s through these events that we can spread the word about new technologies and collectively get a better sense of the challenges still ahead. There are a lot of people in need of better service and access but they aren’t well represented and often have no means to getting access to better technology.”
“EssayJack is a totally new, innovative interactive web-application that pre-structures student essays, reduces writing anxiety, and allows for customization and feedback by educators,” says co-founder and CEO Dr. Lindy Ledohowski. She created EssayJack with fellow U of T alumni Dr. Rueban Balasubramaniam to help people write academic essays.
The website helps students who struggle with procrastination and anxiety. “The #1 comment from our users about EssayJack? It reduces writing stress!” explains Ledohowski. EssayJack also works wiht Mac Speech Dictate so users with difficulty typing can “write” their papers aloud.
WinterLight Labs is building technology to detect signs of dementia, such as Alzheimer’s disease, from a sample of speech.
“We process the speech using techniques from computational linguistics, and then use machine learning to predict whether the speaker has Alzheimer’s disease or not,” explains Katie Fraser. The WinterLight Labs team is made up of Fraser, Maria Yancheva, Liam Kaufman, and Frank Rudzicz. All four are current students and/or alumni.
“There are currently over 750,000 Canadians living with dementia, and that number is expected to double in the next 20 years,” says Fraser, continuing, “We are committed to finding ways that technology can help reduce this burden on the healthcare system and on individuals. ‘Winterlight’ is a type of light used in lighthouses – we view our software as a kind of lighthouse for the mind: an early warning system that there may be trouble ahead.”
Among other things you’ll get to see at Accessibil-UT, there’s Adrenalease, a start-up whose posture performance shirt just received investors from Dragon’s Den; ReX, a robotic rehabilitation device for patients with Cerebral Palsy; and iMerciv, a wearable technology for people with livision loss. To learn more and to register, visit the Banting and Best Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship website here.
Accessibl-UT is a free event taking place on Monday, November 30 from 1:00-5:00pm at the C. David Naylor Student Commons in the Medical Sciences building. Join the conversation on Twitter with the hashtags #accesibilUT, #a11y, and #AODA.
To learn about Accessiblity Services at U of T, check out their website here.
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