Making Our Mark – Sector Stories and Recent Projects

Some of our recent projects have included work with OASYS Healthcare, The Ontario Genomics Institute (OGI), Interdev Technologies Inc., the SickKids Foundation, Public Health Ontario Laboratories, Mama's Life Products, Podotech, Toronto Public Service, 3Di Solutions, Bloom Digital Media, DataAppeal, Magnusmode Inc., Bully Buddies, DMTI Spatial, Bitstrips, SMARTeacher, Spongelab Interactive, the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority, Clear Blue Technologies and Nexas Network.

Our collaborations are varied, ongoing and ever-changing, and this is only a snapshot of our work. Check back with us often to see what new projects we're working on.

Community, health and life sciences and related technologies

Optimizing Operating Room Control Systems and Promoting Healthcare
Advancements in healthcare can be promising, but also require a critical eye to ensure their optimization. OASYS Healthcare is a leading provider of innovative audio, video and mechanical solutions for the medical industry. One of their solutions includes the V300 Operating Room (OR) Control System. OASYS wanted to know how nurses would respond to the graphical user interface design of the new system and turned to researchers at Centennial College to find out. Thanks to funding from NSERC's College and Community Innovation Program: Innovation Enhancement Grants, fifteen perioperative nurses took part in this meaningful ARIC project. It validated three important findings: the V300 added value to the surgical process, the system was easy to use and could be operated by a circulating nurse with little to no training, and continued improvement on the usability of the interface would be beneficial. OASYS embraced the study and used it for the next stage of product development. The company said ARIC's data will help them to provide OR control systems that increase efficiency, improve patient outcomes and ultimately have a positive impact on patient safety.

Genomic Research Comes into High School Classrooms Teaching high school students about DNA is a worthwhile endeavour. Unfortunately, the materials needed to do so and the technology required to work at a molecular level are exceptionally costly. This has now changed thanks to a project between ARIC and The Ontario Genomics Institute (OGI) (OGI), a not-for-profit corporation focused on using world-class research to create strategic genomics resources. The two collaborated with ARIC on the creation of a simple wet-lab microarray simulation kit. High school instructors can use this inexpensive teaching tool to demonstrate the basics of DNA and gene expression in their science classes and to stimulate curiosity in genomics research. ARIC is pleased to report that these kits will be used in tandem with an OGI curriculum to create novel learning experiences for grades 11 to 12 across Ontario.

Cutting Emergency Response Time has Life-Saving Potential When it's an emergency, seconds can make all the difference in the world. Interdev Technologies Inc. is a leading developer of solutions for emergency medical services. ARIC worked with Interdev on one such solution. Called iMedic ePCR, it's a dispatch interface for the computer tablets used by paramedics. Using GPS positioning, the technology sends the address for a call to the tablets much more quickly than the current standards. With project funding from the NSERC College and Community Innovation Program: Innovation Enhancement Grants, Centennial College and Interdev have started to test and improve a prototype. ARIC's remarkable work on the project lent to Interdev's securing of contracts to implement this potentially life-saving system across Ontario.

Getting in Touch with the Healing Power of Massage Few things are as powerfully healing as the human touch. In fact, several important clinical studies have shown that massage can help reduce pain and anxiety for children with cancer. Parents giving massages also benefit, since massage can alleviate their own stress.  ARIC investigated parent-delivered massage in paediatric oncology through a project funded by the SickKids Foundation, and developed an instructional DVD with accompanying print material, explaining and demonstrating a basic massage a parent can give to their child with cancer. ARIC also tested the effectiveness of this DVD and collected data from families who have children with cancer. The investigation, led by Centennial's Trish Dryden, Associate Vice-President Research and Corporate Planning and RMT, included a national consortium of massage therapy practitioners, researchers, and paediatric oncology specialists. The results of this scientific study were very encouraging. Parents found the massage easy to learn and reported that they helped improve their child's sleep, reduce pain and procedural anxiety and increase parent-child bonding. ARIC also found that when parents massaged their children, they felt as thought were part of their child's health care team, giving them a sense of having more control over this difficult situation.

Web Portal Created by ARIC Team Promotes Ontario Health Data is an irreplaceable resource for promoting public health. However, the sheer volume of it can be overwhelming and difficult to work with. This is the problem Public Health Ontario Laboratories (PHOL) faced, prompting PHOL to turn to Centennial for an ARIC Fellowship-funded project. A Crown corporation dedicated to protecting and promoting the health of all Ontarians and reducing inequities in health, PHOL required a web portal that would integrate its large quantities of diversified data sets. Centennial's inventive students and faculty members created a data schema for all the tuberculosis (TB) data sets, devised business rules to convert these specimen-centric data sets into patient-centric data sets, and did operations to extract, transform and load the sets into a flexible database. This project will benefit Ontario's population at large as it has helped the PHOL to understand the complexities and identify the inconsistencies found in the current data sets. ARIC's efforts stand as a good model to work on other data sets to create an Ontario-specific infectious disease data and web portal, contributing to the widespread health of the province.

Everything Goes Smoothly when Creating a New Body Lotion for Mama's Life Products
Sometimes, ARIC's collaborations create perfect synchronicity, as exemplified by our project with Mama's Life Products. This partnership highlights two of ARIC's major commitments: devising solutions to market problems and providing Centennial students with pertinent, applicable experience. ARIC worked with Ahmed Bawah, both a student in Centennial's Environment Protection Technologist Program and a businessman. His company, Mama's Life Products, wholesales exotic soaps, perfumes and creams, including Shea Butter. ARIC created a team in which Ahmed was both the principle investigator and industry partner. Ahmed and the ARIC team succeeded in created a cost-effective, new body lotion using the Shea Butter Ahmed's company sells - just as Ahmed had envisioned. The data gained over the course of this project will not only be used by Mama's Life Products, but will be incorporated into chemistry courses in Centennial's Applied Biological and Environmental Science Program.

ARIC and Podotech Make Sure the Shoe Fits
There's nothing quite as uncomfortable as wearing the wrong pair of shoes. Luckily, ARIC's partnership with Podotech - Podo Pal Inc. will let us all walk away from the problem for good. Along with Podotech CEO Tezera Ketama, ARIC created an affordable version of a 3D foot scanning system originally developed at Waterloo University. Over 18 months, Tezera and the dedicated student researchers assembled by ARIC used the open-source tool Mesh-Lab to write new software. This system creates a 3D model of ones's foot that can subsequently be sent to a shoemaker to ensure the perfect fit for your feet. Tezera worked with ARIC a second time to design and program a mobile app and a website, illustrating how to use the technology, how to measure your foot correctly at home and how to record your measurements online so that they can be sent to a cobbler. Future collaborations with ARIC might include 3D printing and bring a promise of a future without uncomfortable footwear.

Humanities, social innovation, global citizenship and equity

Lessons Learned in a Crowd - Research into Mass Gatherings
It's been said there's strength in numbers, but what else might we find there? ARIC posed this interesting question through a project that examined mass gatherings. Funded by a Centennial College Applied Research and Innovation Fellowship Grant, Centennial's Culture and Heritage Institute, the Emergency Management and Public Safety Institute and Toronto Public Service and EMS examined the typical markings of mass gatherings in Toronto. Surveying key stakeholders, the project's findings on the perception of risk and safety will be used to help plan future mass gatherings. As such, ARIC's work will have incredible, real-world benefits, impacting large event coordination and helping keep more people safe.

Digital media and technology

Appreciating All Dimensions
ARIC is always prepared to explore the different dimensions its research projects take. With 3Di Solutions, this idea became literal. 3Di Solutions creates high quality interactive 3D content on every available platform, researching new technologies for businesses from different applications. Through ARIC, Centennial worked with 3Di Solutions to create a platform and software solution designed to drive 3D graphics, menu overlays, animation, interactive and narrative elements. The goal was to generate digital content and deploy it in real-time for use on mobile or touch devices. Funding came from FedDev Ontario's Applied Research and Commercialization (ARC) Program, and the arduous students working on this project arrived at a solution faster than 3Di ever anticipated.

Making the Formative Years More Informative
ARIC is helping teenagers learn valuable life lessons through its partnership with Bloom Digital Media. Bloom Digital Media's video game, LongStory, brings a fresh approach to the problems facing today's adolescent. ARIC provided manpower and testing for the incredibly relevant game. The title is a “visual novel,” in which the often under-discussed issues of online dating, mental illness, social anxiety and sexual identity are broached. The first episode of the game launched in May 2014 and is available for free for PC, Mac, Android and IOS. The next episode of the game will be released in the fall.

Analytics App Gives Companies a Competitive Edge
The importance of analytics in giving companies a competitive edge cannot be overstated. Data Appeal offers its clients this imperative information through its user-friendly visualization application that offers three-dimensional animated maps and graphs which help turn data into business insight. Wanting to improve their platform, which was lacking in performance, DataAppeal turned to ARIC.  The team ARIC assembled was able to increase the program's analytics capabilities while ensuring a high quality user experience. Together, the college and company developed a revamped product that allows DataAppeal to pursue new clients, partnerships and distribution channels. With a market base of almost 2,000 users and growing, the company has been busy promoting these new and improved features in popular technology blogs to attract more users and potential clients.

Young People with Disabilities Gain Independence Through App
ARIC is fervently dedicated to social causes. With this in mind, it worked with Magnusmode Inc. to create an app that teaches life skills to people ages 15-30 with developmental disability. This was a project that Nadia Hamilton, industry partner and founder/managing director of Magnusmode took to heart, since her younger brother is autistic. Through ARIC, the Magnuscards app was born - an application that builds "Magnus cards.” These cards act as digital guides for those with disabilities and assist them with challenging tasks like cooking, using a debit card and taking the bus. This indispensable app allows its users to become more independent and self-reliant, all while playing a game.

Bully Buddies and ARIC Ease Growing Pains
Getting bullied is not a rite of passage. ARIC helped put a stop to what some people merely consider a growing pain through its partnership with Bully Buddies, a smartphone app that allows a child to call for help at the push of a button. The app can alert their friends, connect them with a 24-hour call centre, or notify emergency services. ARIC developed a back-up key fob to be used in situations where a child may be unable to access their cell phone to call for help. During these high priority cases, this fob sends a signal to police, ambulance and the fire department, and connects the user to Bully Buddies two-way communication. The fob can also locate the child in need of assistance through GPS tracking, including address and mapping capabilities. Bully Buddies plans to collaborate with ARIC on a future project, helping to keep children everywhere that much safer.

ARIC Creates First National Database of Multiple Dwelling Buildings
A countless number of our daily decisions are based on location. For example, we might choose to shop at a certain store instead of another, similar one, simply because the first one is a shorter distance from our home. As Canada's leader in location intelligence, DMTI Spatial is the expert in the kinds of patterns proximity and distance produce. The company sets the standard for using Geographic Information Systems, a computer-based technology to retrieve, store and organize data based on its location on a map, but wanted to improve their suite of location content solutions. This is when they approached ARIC. With funding by FedDev Ontario's ARC Program, this ARIC project resulted in the creation of a national database of multiple dwelling buildings, a first in Canada and a crucial advancement for DMTI Spatial.

Children's entertainment media

Animating Your Life, Educating Your Children
ARIC is adept at recognizing innovative ideas, especially new ways to educate children. Our work with Bitstrips, the biggest comic-making website in the world, attests to this. Hugely popular among digitally-savvy youth in elementary schools, Bitstrips are used as a teaching tool that encourage media literacy and creativity. When they needed help developing their new Facebook application, the Bitstrips team turned to Centennial College to support its development. Funded by FedDev Ontario's ARC Program, four Centennial students created a new library of over 800 pieces of interactive 2D and 3D artwork and templates. This instantly recognizable application has taken Facebook, and your newsfeed, by storm.

SMARTeacher and ARIC have a Winning Equation with Math Game, Prodigy
Getting children to respond positively to math can be as challenging to educators as the subject itself is to some young students. Excited about the possibility of getting children interested in numbers and equations, ARIC collaborated with SMARTeacher on the educational computer game, Prodigy. This game teaches critical math skills to children Grades 1-8. Prodigy uses bio-sensors that measure and respond to a child's level of engagement to the game in real time, stimulating their interest through clues or changes in music. The team ARIC assembled was essential to the research, development and design of the wrist-band sensors that monitor and adapt to the fluctuations of a player's emotions. SMARTeacher is now poised to revolutionize the way children understand math.

High School Biology Becomes a Kids Game
Science can be daunting for some and boring for others, especially when it comes to high schoolers. ARIC collaborated with Spongelab Interactive to create a digital trivia game that turns high school biology into something altogether different. In a word: fun. Together, they developed Knowledge Mine, an engaging digital game that allows students to study and review biology. Along with the support of FedDev Ontario, ARIC gave Spongelab access to the expertise of its faculty and students. Their research and development included the formulation of 3,500 multiple choice questions connected to the Ontario secondary school science curriculum. The ARIC team also did beta testing and game programming for the iPad, iPhone andWeb. The results of this partnership were stunning: Spongelab was able to market their product at least 6 months earlier than expected.

Sustainable energy and environmental sciences

Keeping Local Waters Fit for Fish
Centennial's dynamic engagement to sustainability took a very hands-on, local approach through ARIC's work with the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA). According to the TRCA's living document in 2011, the rivers closest to Centennial campuses, the Don River, Highland Creek and the Rouge River, were rated D and B. These troubling assessments indicate they're not healthy enough for the survival of the Redside Dace, a fish indigenous to these waters. Our tireless Centennial students collected data on stream chemistry and properties in twelve watershed sites in order to establish a baseline to monitor and investigate the river sites that could support the Redside Dace population. The students meticulously analyzed the data on the basis of several different quality indicators, including metal content, nutrient content and quality of organic carbon present. Their impressive final report offers insights that will greatly impact future decision-making regarding the sustainable management of the area.

ARIC Helps Clear Blue Technologies Create a Bright Future for Green Energy
In keeping with ARIC's steadfast commitment to finding clean sources of energy, ARIC was thrilled to work with Toronto's Clear Blue Technologies on the design of a control module for an off-grid hybrid streetlight that can be commercialized. After setting up a hybrid streetlight on Centennial's Progress Campus, data was collected from September 2011 to March 2012. The project team was comprised of professionals and students from the Advanced Manufacturing and Automation Technology Department, School of Engineering Technology and Applied Science. They tested various options for PV panels, lighting loads and batteries. Centennial also diligently tested and validated the unique wireless communications and control system to determine to the impact of various lighting profiles on performance. ARIC's work was essential. We not only helped optimize the system, but increased Clear Blue Technologies' market readiness, bringing this technology and a greener future closer to the present.

Aviation and automation

Our First Aerospace Project Explores New Frontiers
At ARIC, we are continuously pushing ourselves and our boundaries. Our collaboration with Nexas Networks, a small company that specializes in designing advanced manufacturing systems for the aerospace industry, demanded this kind of out-of-the-box thinking. Nexas Networks approached Centennial for assistance in a project that aimed to reverse engineer and manufacture a prototype of a memory card for computer numerical controllers. Through ARIC, a carefully selected team set out to study the currently marketed printed circuit board (PCB) memory card and apply cutting edge lattice complex programmable logic devices (CPLD). After reverse-engineering the card, students working on this critical project designed the new card, built prototypes, tested and validated its design. The new PCB was printed at a factory run entirely by aboriginals and its new design resulted in a substantial reduction in costs. A first of its kind in our developing Aerospace Program, this partnership demanded the advancement of new, exciting technology. The methodology by which it was conceived will be applicable to ARIC's future projects in the aerospace industry.