We put the call out to B.C. inventors to show us their latest creations, and we discovered that there are plenty. From consumer products to medical advancements, here’s what we received.
(Note: based on submissions to BCBusiness) Yeast enhancement: Dr. Henry van Vuuren of UBC’s Wine Research Centre and First Ventures Technologies has discovered a type of “super” yeast capable of limiting the development of ethyl carbonate (urethane), the carcinogen found in fermented food products. Wireless heart monitor: Bozena Kaminska, Canada research chair in wireless sensor networks at SFU, has been developing both polymer-based and wireless sensors, focusing on new devices and algorithms for heart-rate monitoring and diagnosis. Wheelchair bathtub: Matthew Longman, founder of Aquassure Bath Products of Kelowna, has refined the conventional bathtub, making it wheelchair accessible. Longman altered the tub side with a sliding door, added a reclining feature and rigged the system to accommodate lifts. Tasktop: Mik Kersten and Gail Murphy have simplified multitasking for software developers with an open-source computer program. Tasktop provides quick and simple access to all documents, programs and info related to any one task. Public knowledge project: UBC’s John Willinsky, SFU’s Rowland Lorimer and SFU university librarian Lynn Copeland have come together as part of the innovative Public Knowledge Project– a system that allows open journal access worldwide. The technology will both systematize and reduce cost with regards publishing and distribution for researchers. Bladder monitoring: The company Urodynamix, created by Lynne Stothers, Andrew Macnab and Roy Gagnon, has developed a non-invasive technology to scan the bladder pain-free and test for urinary incontinence, bladder dysfunction, gynecological disorders and prostate disease. My bus: John Boxall and Igor Faletski, two computer-science graduates from SFU, have recently developed a system to deliver transit info via communications systems such as text messaging on cellphones, computer widgets and even through notes on Facebook. Driveway mat: Kirk Arsenault, founder of Roadstead Technologies Inc., along with engineer Mike Boudreau of Technology Brewing, have developed and manufactured the RoadRunner driveway oil mat, an interlocking polyethylene frame that holds a replaceable oil absorbent mat to catch unwanted, driveway-staining oil leaks. Bike siren: SoundOfMotion.com and inventor Vladimir Savchenko have combined efforts to develop a type of bicycle siren to notify pedestrians of approaching cyclists. Powered by a mobile phone, the device plays various sounds through a mini-amplifier attached to the phone. Drug-delivery stent: Lindsay Machan and William Hunter of Angiotech Pharmaceuticals Inc. have reshaped the treatment of coronary heart disease and localized drug delivery with TAXUS TM paclitaxel-eluting stents. The stent, which is inserted after angioplasty surgery, allows arteries to remain open and blood to flow freely. Tie-down winch: Traction Technologies of Kamloops, founded by Andrew Ross, has linked up with Ancra International LLC to manufacture and distribute Cinch, an air-powered system and device used to clench and secure tie-down straps on a flat-deck truck. Auto-stitch: In pursuit of simple panoramic imaging, David Lowe of UBC and UBC grad student Matthew Brown have developed Autostitch, an computer program that identifies sequential images and “stitches” them together to create a panoramic picture, including 360-degree images. Rapid-tint window: Switch Materials Inc. headed by Niel Branda has created light-sensitive windows that adjust their opacity when exposed to varying degrees of electric currents. Much like tint-altering eyeglasses, these new windows darken in strong sunlight and become transparent in low light. The technology is being geared toward more energy-efficient houses, cars and offices. Alzheimer protein: David Vocadlo of SFU has made progress in combating Alzheimer’s disease in mice. By restoring absent specialized sugars on the tau protein found in the brain, Vocadlo has been able to reduce the degree of phosphorylation – a process that increases the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. Copper leaching: UBC’s Galvanox Technology, now partnered with Bateman Engineering, has discovered a unique method of copper leaching, one which minimizes SO2 emissions. Developed by David Dixon and Alain Tshilombo, the process is quick and effective, producing results in less than 24 hours. Sugar fuel cell: Mu Chiao of UBC, has fashioned a small medical fuel cell, branded Sweet Power, which is capable of producing energy directly from blood sugar. The single implantation process is forecast to reduce cost and the need for invasive surgery. Web CT: In a bid to enhance the online learning process for educators and students, Murray Goldberg of WebCT, has developed a course management system that is both well organized and easy to navigate. Chemistry analysis: Off-the-Wall Chemistry, created by George Agnes and his students in the Department of Chemistry at SFU, have created a way to levitate a droplet of liquid and transport it for further chemical analysis – a technology that can transform research in the scientific community. Snow skates: Curtis Walker has taken his love for the skate to a new level with the creation of Avatar Snowskates Ltd. The snowskates turn, stop and track like traditional iceskates while perform like skis when traversing down snow-covered hills. Tone saver: Bill Neill and his associates at the Vancouver Development Office of Software Imaging have refined and reduced the concentration of toner a laser printer outputs on a single page, while still producing a high-quality document. Cancer scanner: Calum MacAulay, head of the Cancer Imaging Department at the BC Cancer Agency, and his associates have developed an auto-scanning microscope which surveys slides for cancerous cells. The device is used prominently in trials for early cervical cancer. International characters: SFU computer science professor Robert Cameron has created the software International Characters to process the online text encoding systems at a quicker rate - up to 25 times faster than other methods. DNS detectors: Andre Marziali has found a way to concentrate gel-encapsulated DNA fragments through the use of an electric field, and remove it from the gel through a process known as electrophoresis. The device, Scodaphoresis, is a cost-efficient method to test blood for cancer and other pathogens. Ecoli research: UBC’s Brett Finlay has created a vaccine to prevent the deadly E.Coli bacteria from attaching to a host. Plant enzyme: Associate professors Allison Kermode of SFU and Lorne Clarke of UBC have introduced a human gene into plants in an attempt to produce the human lysosomal enzyme needed to treat the childhood disease MPS I. Genetically personal: Through a basic test developed by James Russell and Keith Walley of Sirius Genomics, doctors will be able to match a patient’s genetics with clinical results to determine how a patient will react to certain drugs. DNA sensor: DNA’s electrical conductivity and its receptor-binding abilities prompted Dipankar Sen of SFU to develop a method in which DNA is used as a sensor for chemical detection. Nano scope calibrator: Brian Dick and Doug Vick of Auora Nanodevices Inc. have developed TipCheck, a calibration system for atomic microscopes. Light engine: Ulrich Stange at Tidal Photonics, has developed a digital light with spectral tuning optics designed to deliver vivid intensity, purity and a wide range of colour. Related story: The Inventors (November 20070