ARCHIVED - Sensor technology leaves users sitting pretty
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XSENSOR Technology Corporation
March 05, 2007— Calgary, Alberta
Serious health hazards face individuals with medical conditions that force them to spend most of their time sitting or lying down. Pressure ulcers caused by this constant pressure can lead to life-threatening infections, which is why doctors and nurses welcome any approach to minimizing or eliminating this pressure.
One Calgary-based firm has developed the technology to do just that. XSENSOR Technology Corporation offers a range of transducers that convert pressure readings into electrical signals that can provide continuous, real-time measurements for any surface.
Installed on the seat and back of a wheelchair, for example, these sensors can map out all the contact points with an individual's body, and most importantly, those contact points that exert the greatest pressure. Such information can be vital to clinicians looking after aspects of patient care such as cushioning, bandaging, or the fit of an orthotic device, helping them ensure that patient's comfort, circulation, and general well being.
In fact, this technology has even broader industrial prospects, from determining the best design for automobile tire treads to assessing the optimal amount of pressure for windshield wipers. By providing the thinnest, most flexible sensors to be found on the market, XSENSOR has been able to position itself on the leading edge of innovation with a wide range of applications.
Company President and CTO Ian Main credits the National Research Council of Canada's Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC-IRAP) as a key part of this success. NRC-IRAP provides a range of both technical and business oriented advisory services along with potential financial support to growth-oriented Canadian small and medium-sized enterprises.
The program is delivered by an extensive integrated network of Industrial Technology Advisors, a group of some 260 professionals in 100 communities across the country. Working directly with these clients, NRC-IRAP supports innovative research, development, and commercialization of new products and services.
"NRC-IRAP helped us create a new technology platform," says Main, referring to financial support for the firm's R&D activities. That support came at critical junctures, when the technology had to be refined before products could be marketed that would then yield revenue.
"It allowed us to identify and investigate technology aspects more aggressively," he explains. "We took more research risk, which paid off by accelerating the development cycle of our core technology."
Robin Black, the NRC-IRAP Industrial Technology Advisor, adds that XSENSOR's most significant progress came when the company began to position itself not just as a medical equipment maker, but a manufacturer of transducers that could serve a much larger and more diversified market.
"You have to understand the opportunity," he says, "then structure the company to be able to do those kinds of projects."
On October 19, 2006, XSENSOR was honoured with the RBC Small Business of the Year award by the Calgary Chamber of Commerce. Since its inception 11 years ago, the company has grown to 30 employees and boasts a diverse clientele list. Their products are sold around the world in the U.S., Europe, Asia, and Australia. In 2005, XSENSOR also received the ASTech (Alberta Science & Technology) Industrial Research Prize and was selected as one of 20 Cool Companies in Western Canada.
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