CANADA: Medical and sports innovation

Four new technologies that could revolutionise the study of Alzheimer's and dementia are set to hit the market as early as 2010 thanks to a commercial licence involving from the Université de Montréal. Univalor, a group focused on transferring inventions to industry leaders, and Cognitive Sensing Inc (CSI), will work with the university under the agreement.

They hope technologies they develop will dominate a variety of markets, from medical researchers working to better understand concussion to sport therapists rehabilitating athletes suffering from sports injuries.

These innovations have been created by Dr Jocelyn Faubert at the visual psychophysics and perception laboratory of the Université de Montréal, and include a portable sports stimulator that helps players improve their speed, skill, reaction time and ability to absorb multiple sources of information. Another piece of sensoring technology aims to boost the early discovery and rehabilitation of concussion and forms of dementia (such as Alzheimer's disease) and autism.

The venture will be spearheaded by Univalor and gives CSI exclusive worldwide rights to develop, manufacture and commercialise four scientifically proven technologies. "It will provide a venue for transferring our technologies, provide financing of research and development and create job opportunities for our highly qualified personnel and graduates as well as provide good industrial internship sites for our graduate students," said Dr Faubert, a world-leading neurophysicist specialising in perceptual-cognitive neurobiological activity.

"We are not simply licensing a technology and commercialising it, but we are also positioning ourselves so that we will be working with Dr Faubert on an ongoing basis," said Jean Castonguay, chief executive officer of CSI. "We are an extension of the lab to allow them to receive feedback from the marketplace in order to make the products more beneficial."

The deal focuses on four pieces of technology. One has been called 'MPI' (mild perceptual impairment device). It measures subtle functional changes caused by neurobiological alterations such as mild traumatic brain injuries (concussions), autism and dementia. It should offer doctors a more sophisticated tool of assessment besides traditional personal evaluations.

3D-MOT (3D multiple object tracking) is a training mechanism using immersive virtual reality to enhance a sports player's cognitive performance through practising their skills at increased speeds. As a result, a player's skill and reaction time in their chosen sport increases and he/she is able to make better decisions.

MSRS (multisensory stochastic resonance stimulation) is another visual technology to improve sense and balance via auditory and visual stimulation.

And the fourth, Noisy Bits, is software that improves image quality in digital displays by generating continuous luminance.