Magnet Forensics Officially Opens New Waterloo Headquarters

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AC Graduates Magnet Forensics officially opened their new headquarters at an open house event that brought together community, business and educational leaders from Waterloo and the surrounding areas.

Guests at the event included Federal Cabinet Minister, Julian Fantino, local Members of Parliament Peter Braid and Harold Albrecht, Waterloo Mayor, Dave Jaworsky, Accelerator Centre CEO, Paul Salvini, University of Waterloo Dean of Engineering, Pearl Sullivan, and Conestoga College’s Chair of the School of Engineering, Ignac Kolenko.

The new facility on Columbia Street West, in close proximity to the University of Waterloo, will house the company’s team which has grown from 8 dedicated professionals two years ago to over 65 with plans for further expansion in the future.

“We are proud to invest in the community where Magnet Forensics was founded and have a new home to collaborate on creating the tools that police and national security agencies require to keep our communities and country safe,” said Adam Belsher, CEO of Magnet Forensics. “Our new facility will not only give us the space we need to continue our growth trajectory, it will also give us proximity to local Universities and Colleges so that students and faculty alike can learn about how we at Magnet Forensics are making a real difference in Canada and around the world and consider joining us in our mission.”

Magnet Forensics was founded by Jad Saliba in 2011. He had been serving as a digital forensic examiner with the Waterloo Regional Police Service, where he was responsible for recovering Internet related evidence. Around this time, web and online usage was exploding. Finding evidence on a suspect’s hard drive was like searching for a needle in a haystack. Facing this new challenge, Saliba set out to find a solution that would help him, and others, recover relevant data faster.

“We at Magnet Forensics are passionate about supporting our partners in law enforcement here in Canada and around the world,” said Magnet Forensics Founder, Chief Technology Officer and former Waterloo Police Officer, Jad Saliba. “Our dedicated team at Magnet Forensics is focused on developing the best digital forensics tools that support police forces in everything they do to keep citizens safe.”

Photo Caption: From left to right, Communitech CEO, Ian Klugman, Waterloo Mayor, Dave Jaworsky, Magnet Forensics CEO, Adam Belsher, Magnet Forensics Founder/CTO, Jad Saliba, Kitchener-Waterloo MP, Peter Braid, Accelerator Centre CEO, Paul Salvini, Waterloo Innovation Network CEO, Brenda Halloran, Associate Minister of National Defence, Julian Fantino and Sergeant Eugene Silva, Waterloo Regional Police Service. Photo by Neil Desai

Nicoya Lifesciences, RENOMii and TeTechS Graduate

IMG_20150618_103540Continuing to build on our track record of transforming start-ups into world-class technology businesses, the AC is pleased to announce the graduation of Nicoya Lifesciences, RENOMii and TeTechS from our rigorous incubation program.

Nicoya Lifesciences is leveraging the power and potential of nanotechnology to create affordable analysis instrumentation for medical researchers. Founded by University of Waterloo researcher Ryan Denomme, Nicoya’s OpenSPR personal label-free biomolecular analysis instrument is easy to use, compact and affordable, making it highly accessible equipment for any lab to own.

For contractors and renovators, RENOMii has created a simple-to-use web app to manage and track change order requests and client communication. The company is the brainchild of co-founders Scott Barker and Kara Smith, who realized that home renovators were missing a simple-to-use tool to eliminate most of the stress created by miscommunication between contractors and their clients. The RENOMii team has recently teamed up with Home Hardware Stores Ltd., to offer the RENOMii software program in Home Hardware stores across Canada.

The terahertz vision sensor technology of TeTechS uses terahertz waves to find previously undetectable objects and defects in advanced manufacturing processes, solving customer problems that cannot be addressed using visible, infrared and x-ray vision sensors. Founded by University of Waterloo PhD, Daryoosh Saeedkia, TeTechS was recently nominated for a 2015 Business Innovation Award by the Greater Kitchener-Waterloo Chamber of Commerce. The company’s terahertz sensors will also soon be featured on Discovery Channel’s How It’s Made program.

“Once again we are graduating companies from our program that represent a wide diversity of technologies and industries,” says Paul Salvini, CEO of the Accelerator Centre. “While the industries served and problems addressed by Nicoya, RENOMii and TeTechS are vastly different, each company has leveraged their experience at the Accelerator Centre to build a strong and sustainable business, with the potential for large-scale growth and impact.”

The AC is dedicated to building and commercializing technology start-ups. We provide an essential combination of mentorship, educational programming, professional office space, networking, and access to funding, with a goal of building successful companies. Over a two- to three-year period, we help entrepreneurs move from start-up to scale-up, accelerate their time to market, and attract customers, investment and revenue.

Konectera launches new equine wearable

IMG_3200ACJumpStart clients Konectera have launched their newest product, SeeHorse.

SeeHorse is a wearable designed especially for the equestrian market, allowing anyone from amateur riders to a professional competitors; trainers and boarding facility owners, to help improve the health and performance of horses.

Temperature, pulse, and respiratory functions (TPR) are important parameters that SeeHorse brings to equestrian markets. SeeHorse can scan and track vital signs and movement that might be out of the ordinary for a user’s horse. SeeHorse watches over a horse through multiple customized alarms on the vitals that a user choose to track and sends notification right to a mobile device.

Users can share the data with a vet, trainer and others to keep an eye on a horse’s health. There is a tiny light in Seehorse that will blink to alert users if something isn’t right. If a horse’s temperature, pulse, respiratory or movement goes outside the pre-set limits the user is the first to know. 

Learn more about SeeHorse at www.seehorse.ca

Why Kik’s Users Have Swapped 350 Million Texts – With Bots

When you’re one of the most popular messaging apps among teens in the United States, you can’t resort to traditional banner ads.

You probably can’t use cutting-edge, programmatic advertising techniques that track, divvy up and target your users with just the right personalised ad, either.

You need the next big thing in mobile advertising, and right now that just might be brand bots.

Brand bots are automated accounts that run on messaging services like Kik that “chat” one-on-one with thousands of human users. The bot marketing phenomenon has been gaining strength on messaging apps that skew towards younger users, like Kik and Tinder, which has an estimated 50 million monthly active users.

Kik has 200 million registered users, more than a third of whom are aged between 16 and 24, and it’s taking on 250,000 new users each day. More than 10 million of them have already chatted with brand bots since Kik introduced Promoted Chats in November 2014. (Unsanctioned bots, typically porn bots run by spammers, had been running rampant on the mobile chatting platform for years.)

In the seven months since Kik launched Promoted Chats, more than 350 million messages have been sent and received between human users and promoted chat accounts. That’s a lot of chatting with completely artificial entities. Many of the brands behind these bots are media companies like Funny or Die, Moviefone, or content platform Massively.

One example of the brand bots at play: Massively recently launched a campaign to promote horror flick Insidious 3. Instead of the usual static or video ads, it created a bot that represented the movie’s heroine Quinn Brenner. The Brenner bot can hold a stilted conversation with a Kik user, telling them things like, “Some weird stuff has been going on.”

For movie studios the marketing potential here must be tantalizing. If they can program their bots to be moderately realistic, chat app users can feel as though they’re chatting with fictional characters and develop a stronger bond with a movie or TV show.

DNA Studios, the producers of sci-fi film Ex-Machina, set up a clever marketing stunt on Tinder earlier this year in which a chat bot played the role of their main female character, an android in the film. During chats with other Tinder users, the bot would eventually sent a link to the film’s website, revealing her artificial origins.
More 60 companies have Promoted Chat accounts on Kik. Funny or Die’s bot has chatted with an astonishing 1.5 million users, while accessories retailer Skull Candy’s had chatted with 300,000 within the first three months of its launch. “That surpassed their Twitter TWTR -1.52% following, which took two or three years to build,” says Kik press office Rod McLeod.

Waterloo, Canada-based Kik uses something like a freemium business model with its promoted chats. Brands like Skull Candy can set up their accounts for free, but if they want to acquire more users they have to pay Kik for the access. Nearly all 60 brands on the platform have gone on to pay for access to more users.

Kik CEO Ted Livingston believes this is the future of how companies will engage with their customers. Nobody is downloading apps anymore, he says. “This is why official accounts are doing so well in China. You don’t have to download a new app. You just chat with new friends.”

Livinston is referring to China’s most popular messaging app WeChat, which has more than 500 million monthly active users and is on the forefront of the trend for messaging apps to become fully-fledged hubs for communication, entertainment and commerce — a modern-day portal to the web.

The closely-watched Internet Trends report from Mary Meeker, a partner at venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins, said this week that messaging platforms like Kik, WeChat, Facebook Messenger, LINE and Snapchat were “aiming to create cross-platform operating systems…. for more and more services.”

On WeChat, you can order food, play games, send money and order a taxi among other things. Increasingly, WeChat is replacing the browser as a means to access websites for companies and organisations too.

“There are more official accounts created on WeChat than there are websites put on the internet in China,” Livingston says, citing direct sources at WeChat.

Call them official accounts, promoted chats, or brand bots, they’re already an established business model among chat apps in Asia. Livingston claims the model is helping his bottom line, though at this point he’ll only hint about their impact on revenue.

“I can’t give numbers,” he says, “but it’s working quite well.”

Matt Rendall nominated for national young entrepreneur award

Matt Rendall, CEO of Clearpath Robotics, will represent Ontario in the national finals for the $100,000 Young Entrepreneur Award sponsored by the Business Development Bank of Canada.

Matt Rendall“It is more validation that we are onto something really powerful,” Rendall said in an interview.

The bank said Clearpath Robotics made it to the finals for its work on autonomous mobile robots that are able to navigate warehouses and factories on their own.

This cutting-edge technology is a new focus within Clearpath that taps into a lucrative market in advanced manufacturing.

Until now, Clearpath has produced autonomous vehicles that can operate on land and water. They collect samples from toxic environments, perform tasks in underground mines and clear explosives.

But the Kitchener company’s latest technology push is all about mobile robots in warehouses and factories.

The Young Entrepreneur Award is open to individuals who are 18 to 35, who faced a turning point or decisive moment in their business, and came up with solution that puts the business on a new growth trajectory. Rendall’s turning point is the plan to develop autonomous mobile robots.

A national committee will evaluate the quality of the finalists’ projects and their evaluation will count for 50 per cent of the final ranking. The winner will be announced June 22. The runner-up receives $25,000 in consulting services.

Clearpath was founded in 2009 by Rendall and three other University of Waterloo mechatronics graduates.

The company, which now employs 80 people, has undergone “a huge transformation” in the last six months because of the program to develop autonomous factory robots, said Rendall.

“We are now working on significant industrial deployments of the technology,” he said.

Conventional materials handling technology in factories and warehouses involves what are known as automated magnetic vehicles or automated magnetic carts. They rely on a magnetic strip buried in the floor to help navigate.

These carts and vehicles cannot operate away from that magnetic field. If there are obstructions on the magnetic strip, such as a garbage can or pallet, the vehicle will not move.

“We are taking the train off the tracks, and allowing it to behave much more like a taxi,” Rendall said. “What that means is you can very efficiently route where a package needs to be from one location in a factory to another location.”

The robots are equipped with high-powered computers and sensors that mimic the eyes of people, letting the robot learn about their environment.

The Business Development Bank noted that developing autonomous robots is a challenging process. Among other things, the company must secure commitments from early adopters who “will help de-risk the process,” it said.

“Getting these prototypes to market will pave the way for the company to create a whole new industrial division and further expand into the manufacturing sector,” the bank said.

I Think Security Ltd. is now APrivacy Ltd.

logo_aprivacy_trans-16AC Graduate I Think Security Ltd. has announced that it is changing its corporate name to APrivacy Ltd. This change better reflects what the company is doing today.

I Think Security Ltd. began as a cyber security lab in 2010 and has evolved to an information security and tracking provider for the banking sector over the past few years. They graduated from the Accelerator Centre in September 2013.

“The name change better reflects what our business is today and fits with our growth plans to empower the banking sector by providing world class security that is compliant and transparent for users,” stated Dr. Cédric Jeannot, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of APrivacy Ltd.

APrivacy Ltd. provides encryption and tracking technology to private banks, family offices and high net worth individuals. The company’s embedded security enables its clients to securely store and share sensitive information anywhere, any time, and on any device.

“Our enabling technology has shifted the economics of security, from an expense to a revenue generator. It is an exciting time for APrivacy Ltd.,” Jeannot concluded.

Ear-o-Smart named one of the top wearables

IMG_6106Smart jewellery is fast becoming a top wearable tech trend, and is proving to be one of the best ways to get the benefits of smartwatches and fitness trackers, without having to wear a dull slab of plastic on your arm.

Wareable, a website dedicated to wearable technology, listed AC Clients Biosensive‘s Ear-O-Smart as one their eight top wearable products.

“Most fitness monitors are limited to wrist-based electronics, but do you really want to wear a bulky wrist monitor to a party or a meeting?” says Ravinder Saini, CEO of Biosensive. “”We believe that wearable electronics should be embedded into the products we use in our everyday lives, and for that reason, we created Ear-o-Smart, a product designed to fit seamlessly into your life.”

Ear-o-smart is the world’s first smart earring, which lets you monitor and track your health vitals. The earring tracks activity, calories burned and heart rate, and syncs this to iPhone or Android.

TD Kitchener Blues Festival Selects LoyaltyMatch

InVenue® mobile App and “Digital Passport” will let concert-goers check in and win

The TD Kitchener Blues Festival, which expects to attract more than 150,000 people this year to its multi-venue event on August 6-9, has selected LoyaltyMatch to provide its InVenue mobile app and Digital Passport for concert-goers to use to check-in and win prizes and vendors to collect information that will help them understand their customers better. Festival organizers are also interested to know which shows and venues attract the most blues lovers.

Concert-goers will use the Digital Passport festival app to check-in at various sponsored events where they can share photos, posts and Tweets on social media.  A “stamp” for attending and sharing the events on social media is placed and tracked in the Digital Passport. Using the InVenue®mobile app, the festival organizers will be able to scan a QR code created in the Digital Passport and offer the concert-goer additional stamps for food or merchandise purchase.  Attendees with enough stamps will be eligible for a variety of prizes, including 2016 TD Kitchener Blues Festival tickets.

As in the past, approximately 70 vendors will provide the food, drinks and merchandise that attendees need to keep going throughout the event. The InVenue app will enable them to gather customer data and could assist them to maintain contact after the event.

About The TD Kitchener Blues Festival 

The TD Kitchener Blues Festival is an internationally recognized, family-friendly, non-profit event, operated by a community organization and administered by a volunteer Board of Directors and over 400 volunteers. There is no admission fee for most of the shows that run over the four-days. For more information visit kitchenerbluesfestival.com.

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