Nearly one in seven Canadian adults are living with some degree of physical disability, presenting real-world barriers and daily challenges. For those that can access assistive technology, it can be life-changing.
As part of this year’s Invictus Games, 48 assistive technology innovators from Ontario will demonstrate how their devices can change the lives of people living with disabilities.
From Septemver 25 to 26, the Accessibility Innovation Showcase will highlight the futuristic technology that can enhance the lives of people with disabilities. The Ministry of Research, Innovation and Science have partnered with the Games for the two-day event that’ll showcase assistive technology to the public, policy makers and stakeholders at Toronto’s Sheraton Centre.
In Ontario, nearly 1.9 million people live with a disability—a population that’s growing as the baby boomer cohort ages. The tech industry in Ontario has taken note with many companies focusing on the assistive tech field and developing real-world solutions.
“The number of startups that have popped up in Ontario is quite remarkable,” said Dr. Morris Milner. He’s a professor at the University of Toronto in the biomaterials and biomedical engineering field.
“All these companies have products that could be worthwhile internationally. Disability knows no boundaries. But the government has to help them connect and angel investors need to make investments. These partnerships are extraordinarily important,” he said.
Dr. Milner spoke about MyndTec, a Mississauga company developed technology to an artificially stimulate muscles that have been paralyzed or weakened due to a stroke.
“When you can have technology that can subsume some of the role of the nervous system… I think we need to make bigger investments in the field.”
He explained how innovating and increasing access to assistive technology is a “societal” concern we need to be prompting.
“These assistive technologies can keep people in their homes for as long as possible; out of institutions and hospital beds… We can reveal a big burden off the health system,” he said.
Also featured at the two-day showcase is Awake Labs who has developed a wearable band for children on the autism spectrum to track their anxiety. The band delivers behavioural data that’s useful for both their parents and healthcare providers to predict future meltdowns. Health startup iBIONICS will be there too. The Ottawa-based company is developing a bionic eye, a small retinal implant encased in diamond that can help return vision to blind people.
As part of the Invictus Games, these companies are showcasing technology that Milner said could address the needs of the injured soldiers competing in the multi-sport eight-day event.
This year, the Invictus Games will see 550 participants from 17 nations competing in 12 sports, including wheelchair rugby, archery and sitting volleyball. Canada is represented at the Games by 90 soldiers.