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NanoLight exceeds Kickstarter goals tenfold

In last week's innovation and job news, we told you about NanoLight, a new lightbulb spearheaded by three University of Toronto graduates. At the time of the article, the trio had recently launched their Kickstarter campaign with hopes of raising $20,000 to fund what they promise to be the most energy efficient light bulb ever made. Now, one week later and still with time to go, the group has raised more than $235,000 in pledges and counting.
An article in Inquisitr reports on the NanoLight's early success. At the time of the article, 4,700 people had backed the project (it has since grown closer to 5,000). Kickstarter works by allowing anyone to help fund a project, usually for an incentive. For $30, backers both support the project and will also receive one 10 watt NanoLight, equivalent to a 75 watt bulb. Many of the group's packages have already sold out. 
Gimmy Chu, one of the NanoLight's founders, told Yonge Street that each NanoLight provides 30,000 hours of illumination. 

The light bulbs are expected to begin shipping in May. Following this, the team will begin working on additional highly efficient light bulbs.
Read the full article here
Read the Yonge Street interview here.
Original Source: Inquisitr

Heartbeats are the new fingerprints

A new app developed by Toronto company Bionym puts heartbeats at the centre of identification. In response to increased security protection concerns, tech security experts are looking to new and advanced ways of using biometric features in identification recognition technologies.  With technology usually reserved for military and government buildings, these companies hope biometric features will eventually be infiltrated into online security measures such as account passwords. 
Bionym's new product HeartID contains a security feature that is almost impossible to replicate, writes the International Business Times, and "definitely could not be hacked…unlike traditional passwords and pins."
The article explains: "The app analyses the pattern of a person's heartbeat, picks out the variation in the waves that create a biometric template distinct to that individual. The template remains distinct even if a person exercises or is stressed which causes the wave to compress but the shape remains the same."
"That means the system could recognize a person regardless of his heart rate, said Karl Martin, the president and chief executive officer of Bionym. He said the company is licensing the software to other companies and working to have the app placed directly in smartcards, tablets and smartphones."
These apps work by holding the devices near your heart where an embedded sensor then reads your heartbeat. 
Read the full article here.
?Original Source: International Business Times

Myo turns your body into a remote control

Ontario is quickly becoming leaders in transforming our bodies into remote controls. On Monday, Kitchener-based startup Thalmic Labs announced its gesture-controlled armband Myo (yes that is a Star Wars reference) is available for pre-order. The armband is the company's experiment in seeing how it can "integrate technology into our daily lives and give people superpowers," Thalmic Labs co-founder Stephen Lake says in an interview with New Scientist.
The armband works by reading "electrical activity in a user's muscles as they contract or relax to make gestures with their hand and arm," an article in New Scientist writes. Signals are submitted wirelessly to software that "interprets the movements into commands."
"we really have this belief that technology can be used to enhance our abilities," Lake says. "This is a way of using natural actions that we've evolved to intuitively control the digital world."
A video demoing Myo's capabilities shows gamers using their bodies as first-person devices, corporate types and professors shifting through slides with the wave of an arm, and chefs scrolling through cooking instructions on their iPads, their chicken fingers far away from the screen. The armband will ship later this year and is expected to cost $149. The software is compatible with Apple and Windows platforms. 
The software builds on pre-existing technology, the most common example being Kinect. However, Myo does not use camera sensor technology. Thalmic Labs also announced a developer's API, allowing use of the hardware to build additional applications. New Scientist writes the team is already imaging ways to integrate its technology with Google's Project Glass, something computer scientist Shahzad Malik, co-founder of Toronto's CognoVision, said would be huge.

"Something like Thalmic's technology is super useful since you can do interactions in a subtle way, which is important in a public venue," he says. 
Read the full story here.
Original Source: New Scientist

Shop.ca fastest growing ecommerce site in Canada

Last week, Yonge Street was invited to attend an information session by IBM outlining the company's various ecommerce and mobile platforms available to small and large businesses. It featured a panel discussion that included Trevor Newell, president of Shop.ca, the fastest growing ecommerce site in Canada. The company is Canada's largest online shopping destination, currently selling more than 15 million products and is set to sell more SKUs than Walmart, a staggering feat considering Shop.ca is less than a year old. 
The story was featured briefly at IBM Connect down in Orlando, prompting IT Business to interview the Toronto-based entrepreneur about Shop.ca's early success. Newell credits IBM's WebSphere Commerce platform as part of it. The Toronto-built platform is the most "used ecommerce platform of the top 100 retailers," the article says, citing Sears, Nokia, Ikea, Sony, Staples, Canon and more among its customers. 
"With a team of less than 10 we deployed Web Sphere platform in less than nine months," Newell told IT Business. "That was unheard of in IBM, they didn't think we could do it."
Shop.ca also credits the site's cache capabilities, increasing inventory, loyalty programs, and social media integration as key elements. The article writes, "Shop.ca used its IT team to build out a loyalty rewards bank. It includes a currency system with credits and debits guided by a rule set. It rewards users when a friend buys something they recommended with a 1 per cent commission. So far, the program has awarded more than $3 million to member's accounts."
Read the full story here
Original Source: IT Business

The key to success: Well planned strategy

Roger Martin, Dean of the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto, was in Mumbai last week promoting his new book Playing to Win: How Strategy Really Works. Written with A.G. Lafley, the former CEO of Procter and Gamble, the book explores how to design and implement a strategy for success, a key but often misguided step in business development.
He sat down for a Q&A with Live Mint, a division of the Wall Street Journal, to discuss the book and its themes in more detail. Martin is an alumnus of the Harvard Business School and worked Procter and Gamble before becoming Dean at Toronto's Rotman School of Management. He will be ending his term there later this year. 
"Most companies don’t have a conscious strategy," he told Live Mint. "They are just doing a bunch of stuff that doesn’t add up--they don’t have any useful strategy. They might say 'we are going to be the best in the industry; and they think being the best in their industry is a strategy--it’s not. It’s a slogan."
So what is strategy? It requires CEOs to have a clear vision and an understanding of the company's customers. 
Martin says, "Strategy is an integrated set of choices that produces an outcome. It defines where we are going to play--if a CEO can’t define that, he or she probably does not have a strategy worth having. Saying we want to have the good customers is a non-choice; instead, if you say, for instance, we want customers who value variety over low price, that’s coherent. That way you can organize yourself to have high variety--to have a value proposition to that customer base that is distinctive."
Read the full story here
Original Source: Live Mint

Toronto start-ups reach new heights, literally

It's a neat concept that is literally bringing the elevator pitch to a new level. Last Thursday, 100 start-ups gave their best pitch to a panel of judges while taking the 58-second elevator ride to the top of the CN Tower.
The event is an opportunity for entrepreneurs to practice and perfect their elevator pitches, and is the first in a series of pitch events taking place in the world's most famous and tallest skyscrapers. The Elevator World Tour will commence in New York's Empire State Building, Chicago's Sears Tower, the Seattle Space Needle, Taipeo 101 in Taiwan, Paris's Eiffel Tower, Dubai's Burj Khalifa, and the Hammetschwand Life in Switzerland. 
"The main goal of the event wasn’t to have a start-up do a million-dollar deal based solely on their trip up the tower, but to give entrepreneurs a chance to polish their pitches and make key connections, said Mark Relph, an executive with event sponsor Microsoft Corp."
Toronto's Mejuri, a platform that allows jewelry designers to upload original designs that are then manufactured, marketed and sold by Mejuri based on crowdsourced votes, won the contest. They took home free passes and paid travel to the International Startup Festival in Montreal in July where they'll compete against the winners from the other participating elevator cities. The Startup Festival are the organizers of the Elevator World Tour.
The entire experience is being filmed as part of a documentary called A Total Disruption by award-winning American filmmaker Ondi Timoner. 
Read the full story here
Original source: IT Business

Toronto Solar Ship could revolutionize access to critical medical supplies in remote areas

A Toronto company hopes to transform the way critical medical and hospital supplies are delivered to remote areas in the world through its unique solar-powered airship. It's been a dream of Canadian entrepreneur Jay Godsall since he was in high school and now, thanks in part to an in-progress crowd-funded IndieGoGo campaign and potential support from investors, the project is finally taking off.
Thirty years in the making, the aircraft is Toronto-company Solar Ship's most important innovation. It's a hybrid between a bush plane and an airship, powered by solar panels, lifted by helium, and designed to access hard-to-reach places, "where roads don't exist and planes can't land." 
The company has built four prototypes since 2009, but the real mission of the IndieGoGo campaign is to establish enough funding to begin delivering medical supplies to villages in Cape Town, Africa. The company is seeking $1 million through crowd-funding and investors to cover the costs of medical supplies, aircraft development, and training.
“Airships are older than radios, older than automobiles,” Godsall told BBC, “but no one has quite had the mission to do something like this with one.”
There is some backlash. The crafts are expensive and a worldwide helium shortage may cause problems, the BBC article says. In addition, these aircrafts may not be well received in communities unfamiliar with giant hovering aircrafts. “The eastern Congo is not a place you can just pull up in your hospital ship," Dr. Amy Lehman, founder of Lake Tanganyika Floating Health Clinic, an organization that uses small boats to supply medical treatment around the great lake, including eastern Congo, told BBC. 
Despite this, Godsall claims the company has funding should the IndieGoGo campaign prove ineffective (at press time, the campaign had raised just under $7,000). He says the company's persistence is the key to its success. “We build em’, fly em’, build em’ and fly em’, and now, we’ve nailed it.”
Read the full story here.
Original source: BBC

InteraXon debuts mind-control technology at CES

Toronto-based company InteraXon has been making waves this week down at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas – brainwaves, that is.
The company released its first consumer product the Muse Brain Health System, a brainwave-enabled headband and application system that simultaneously strengthens the cognitive and emotional parts of your brain through mental exercise. The headband measures brain activity during customized training exercises, allowing the user to gage how well their brain is performing and ultimately enhance their brain health.
“With over 70 percent of all doctor and hospital visits being due to stress-related illnesses we wanted to design a brain health system that helped both the cognitive and emotional,” Ariel Garten, Founder and CEO at InteraXon, says in the article. “So many brain trainers focus on the cognitive aspects of the mind, but the emotional side is just as crucial. There needs to be a balance for you to have a healthy mind. We’re very excited to showcase our technology at CES.”
The headset will be available for purchase later this year and will retail at $199. 
Read the full article here
Original source: San Francisco Gate

Stories from MESH conference's technological frontlines

With digital technology conference Mesh behind us for another year, it's time to ask: What did we learn?
Toronto startups shared a lot of wisdom at the two-day event. ITbusiness.ca's Christine Wong learned a few lessons at the panel called "Tales From the Trenches: Stories From Startups," moderated by Mesh organizers Mark Evans and Stuart MacDonald.

Evgeny Tchebotarev and Oleg Gustol, co-founders of Toronto-based photo sharing startup 500px, talked about how they worked for eight years "before finally getting 500px to the sustainable, competitive level it's at today. As Evans pointed out, 'There are no overnight successes.' To which Gustol quickly replied: 'No — but there should be!' a bit of wishful thinking that generated big laughs." Gustol also talked about the sacrifices it takes. "We couldn't pay our bills for months. I had no life."
At Techvibes.com, Andrea Wahbe reported on the risks and motivation of Aliza Pulver, founder of HomeSav.com.
"Unlike some entrepreneurs who start their own businesses to have more flexibility, Pulver said that what she was really looking for was freedom. 'And with that freedom are both risks and rewards. It was just a now or never situation for me,' said Pulver."
Read the full stories here and here
Original sources: ITBusiness.ca & Techvibes.com

Toronto startup offers underwater solution to energy storage woes

Toronto-based startup Hyrdrostor could soon make Ontario's energy infrastructure significantly more efficient thanks to their innovative new energy storage technology—the underwater "accumulator." The accumulators or compressed air energy storage (CAES) units are giant underwater energy storage units that convert unused energy from the grid into compressed air for future usage. After a successful pilot project last summer, Hydrostor has recently partnered with Toronto Hydro to construct a 1MW, 4MWh demonstration facility about seven kilometers from Toronto's shore later this year.
"As Hydrostor president Cam Lewis explains, his company's first-of-its-kind system mechanically converts electricity from the grid to compressed air, which is captured, cooled and can be stored indefinitely in underwater accumulators. These accumulators are large, high-strength polyester bags that inflate with the air like a big balloon—no doubt producing quite an underwater show for salmon and lake inhabitants. When the grid needs the stored energy, the weight of the water pushes the air back to the surface where Hydrostor's expander/generator system sends it back."

"The idea, Lewis says, is to transmit excess electricity at night when demand is less and reverse it when demand is high. The technology offers 70 per cent round-trip efficiency, he says."

read full story here
original source Smart Grid Technology

Spadina design offices play the part of glam law firm on NBC

The Seattle Pi features Toronto design and architectural consulting company Stantec, after the company's downtown studio was selected as the primary site for the new NBC legal drama, The Firm. The Stantec building, located at Spadina Avenue and Wellington, was designed by the company's own architects, interior designers and engineers and was selected for The Firm because of its open-concept design, integration of heritage architecture and innovative use of natural light. 
"Based on the best-selling novel by world-renowned author John Grisham, The Firm stars Josh Lucas as attorney Mitchell McDeere. Stantec’s award-winning studio stands in for the law firm of the title, Kinross & Clark. The Firm airs on NBC and Global Television."
"'Kinross & Clark is not your typical law firm. So the production team valued the unique design elements of Stantec's studio space that make it an ideal work environment for our team,' says Stephen Phillips, Stantec's practice leader for architecture."
"Formerly the McGregor sock factory, the Stantec Toronto studio is located in the historic Garment District at the corner of Spadina Avenue and Wellington Street West. The site is listed as a heritage property within the city core. Originally constructed in 1905, the timber post and beam building offered the perfect opportunity to reclaim, transform and recycle a piece of the city's industrial history. The project is LEED CI Gold certified, underscoring Stantec's commitment to sustainable practice."
read full story here
original source Seattle Pi

A venerable bike shop bets ambitious expansion plans will pay off

The Globe And Mail writes on Toronto entrepreneur Rob Bateman, who recently decided to risk everything by moving his small, but successful, bike repair business from a tiny downtown location to a much larger—and much more expensive—storefront. 
"'It was a difficult decision,' Mr. Bateman said during an interview in the newly renovated bicycle store that opened last month. "I was confident, things were going really well and there was growth every year, but the business was getting stagnant.'"
"A key consideration for Mr. Bateman was whether having a larger business was a better situation than continuing to operate as a small but profitable and steadily growing entity."
"Financing was also an issue, given the money needed to take over the lease and buy the inventory. After considering bank loans, Mr. Bateman financed the deal using his own capital and a loan from his mother."
"Rather than close the original location, Mr. Bateman plans to keep it open to handle small repairs and sell refurbished bikes. The new and larger store will handle new bicycle sales and repairs. Mr. Bateman said it will also host riding groups, workshops and special events, such as bicycle swaps."

read full story here
original source Globe & Mail

8 TO startups nab $20 million in investments

Tech Vibes reports on the more than $20 million recently invested in eight promising Toronto startups.

The funding for the startups—which range from ad companies to medical suppliers—is the result of a successful partnership between the Government of Ontario and a handful of private investors. The Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario committed about $5 million, with the remaining $15 million coming from venture capital groups. 
full list of companies here
original source Tech Vibes

Toronto Startup Map pinpoints the best places to do business

The MaRs Discovery District has released the "Toronto Startup Map"—an inforgraphic that highlights the best Toronto neighbourhoods for would-be entrepreneurs. Access to transit, proximity to coffee shops and affordability were among the key characteristics evaluated in the study. 
Check out Toronto's Startup Map here
original source Techvibes 

Project bringing local food brought right to your workplace

BlogTO writes on Toronto Office Markets, a new sustainable food initiative that brings local vendors into office lobbies. The project—launched by Toronto-based food-focused NGO, Alimentary Initiatives—is an attempt to reduce the food industry's  "triple bottom line" (environmental, social and economic costs) by bringing local venders and growers right into workspaces. After a successful pilot launch at the Centre for Social Innovation, Toronto Office Markets is scheduled to open on March 8 in the lobby of ING Direct.
"Artisan market in style, different vendors will sell their goods to the employees and guests of the office. Offering a range of freshly baked breads, cheeses, produce, and ready-to-eat items like samosas and raw pizza, the concept offers food for now and later."
"[Head of Alimentary Initiatives] Aruna Handa sees the project as "win-win-win" and it's hard not to agree with her: since AI does not charge for the service, offices get the market with no financial investment, the employees gain convenient access to local food, and the vendors have to opportunity to increase their sales and profile."
"Handa believes that through initiatives like the Toronto Office Markets, the local food economy can be transformed into a more sustainable model in which residents have easier access to fresh food from nearby farmers and proprietors. While that plan is rather ambitious in its goals, the drive to bring these products directly to consumers is surely a good start."
read full story here
original source BlogTO
61 small businesses Articles | Page: | Show All
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