Modern technology is something a growing percentage of the world is exposed to on a daily basis. Newer technologies and innovations tend to garner more attention over their more familiar counterparts. For example, It wasn’t long ago when televisions and fax machines were replaced by PCs, laptops and eventually smartphones as the must-have technology of our day.
After taking a look through some of the vendors at this year’s sold-out BC Tech summit it doesn’t surprise me that some of the most exciting exhibitors in attendance had to do with what appears to be another period of transformation. Of the 200 exhibits on display, some of the most eye-opening had to do with 3D Printing and VR related platforms based arond a variety of fields.
Summit organzier Greg Caws spoke enthusiastically that, “there has never been anything like this before — clean technology companies bumping up against life sciences companies, bumping up against video game companies. We’re not dependent on any one area. We’re diversified, so if one thing tanks, we’re still OK.”
Of the exhibitors in attendance, The Victoria Hand Project, a not-for-profit trying to bring down the cost of traditional prosthetic limbs by utilizing affordable 3D scanning and 3D printing technology is a notable standout.
As mentioned in one of our earlier stories, their 3D printed prosthesis consists of a hand, wrist, socket and a harness that has easy positioning, grasping and gripping capabilities. “The socket is the part of the device that is in constant contact with the amputee. The fit is extremely important. Our unique method of 3D scanning and printing produces a fully custom socket, giving an amputee the comfort that comes with properly fit prosthesis system.”
Joshua Coutts, designer of their limb goes on saying that “when you’re looking at prosthetic devices, you’re looking anywhere from 2,000 to 3,000 Canadian dollars (1,400 to 2,100 U.S. dollars) — almost the sky is the limit.” Their device, which comes complete with a professional fitting session, comes in at $224USD.
Beyond this low-cost solution to an all too real problem is the fact that 8 out of 10 people in need of prosthetic care live in developing countries. Much of what this not-for-profit is spearheading revolves around raising funds and awareness so their devices can be 3D printed on an individual basis locally in the developing countries that might benefit the from the technology the most. The not-for-profit has been making and distributing their prosthetic arms via test trials in Nepal, Guatemala and Cambodia since mid-2015.
Coutts said the BC Tech Summit was a good place to further the search for interested donors so to sustain the delivery of more prosthetics and equipment to regions most in need. Adding that, ”every 50,000 dollars (35,000 U.S. Dollars) that we fundraise sets up a full clinic with 3D printers, employs a local there, trains the local and delivers 50 amputees our upper limb prosthetic device to help improve their lives.”
Another exciting development in the medical community was the promotion of PeriopSim, a surgery simulator tool that is offered by mobile development firm Conquer Mobile. Labeled as an immersive 3D environment tool, this tablet based app is designed to provide real-time instruction and video examples during common surgical, medical practies. This said, the platform’s integration with their VR simulator is where everything really seems to come together.
Aaron Hilton, executive chairman of the Conquer Mobile suggests that ”you no longer have to spend the cost of operating room time to get the operating room experience,” and that “we’re trying to save B.C. from its nursing shortage by saving the province millions in nursing training.”
As seen in the above video, the use of modern VR technology to create a virtual operating table gives any medical student the ability to get some practical, and potentially life-saving training without needing to tap into the very limited resources available in many hospitals today.
Moving into the entertainment side, another Canadian company, Cloudhead Games demoed theircrowdfunded VR game, The Gallery: Six Elements. Since funding, the company has partnered up with a HTC and their flagship game will be a release title once the VR set releases in April.
Cloudhead Games CEO Denny Unger realizes their HTC partnership has created a big boost from a game development way. “We’re super lucky, really excited that the public is finally going to get a taste of this in April and we’re ecstatic that the world will finally understand that the rebirth of VR is really what it should be, it really works this time, it feels great and it is an exciting experience.”
Through collaboration, the Cloudhead Games team has been able to research many in-game innovations so to deal with motion sickness, character positioning but also real-world space variability. This essentially means the limitations in the users real-world environment is considered using in-game boundary awareness sensors and hot-spots. The below video gives a great breakdown of how their access to upcoming VR tech has helped the team create an new and immersive gaming experience.
Tech conferences are always exciting when they specifically promote local advancements and innovations. The BC Tech Summit seems to be on track as a springboard for their local tech sector to see exactly what’s new and exciting in the years to come.