This past year, WIMTACH was the successful recipient of the College and Voucher Technology Adoption (CVTA) program. The CVTA program connects eligible Ontario for-profit and incorporated companies with Ontario colleges with the expertise and resources to solve their business and innovation challenges. Through this program, college faculty and students serve as consultants for WIMTACH industry partners to solve industry challenges related to innovation and technology adoption. WIMTACH was awarded 15 vouchers, each worth $10,000, and the ability to choose its collaborators. With a proven commitment to the applied research discipline and growth of the local economy, WIMTACH chose companies that represented that and innovation at the highest level.
Strengthening industry partnerships and collaborations is key to WIMTACH’s success with multidisciplinary applied research projects. With McCray Optical, it was no different. The company, a leader in the optical industry for over 30 years, was selected to receive a $10,000 voucher because of their commitment to research and development, innovation and their determination for commercialization. Additionally, McCray is Canada’s largest supplier of optical tools, accessories, laboratory supplies and consumer eyewear products, which positions their project as an impactful one to their industry.
Once McCray received the $10,000 voucher, their team spearheaded an innovative product that would eventually lead them to the stage every company wishes to reach – commercialization. But before that staged was reached, McCray and WIMTACH developed a proof of concept to ensure the applied research project idea – to develop an Android app that uses augmented reality (AR) and machine vision to automate the measurement process for clip-on glasses – was feasible. Thanks to a presentation by Centennial College students Oleksandr Palchevskyi and Devesh Vasnani, an Industry Technology Advisor (ITA) with IRAP (Industrial Research Assistance Program) awarded McCray $150,000 to further develop the project.
Experts across several disciplines, including machine learning, mobile applications and electronics, worked diligently together to create a prototype that would, if successful, disrupt the optical industry. Automating the measurement process reduces costs, waiting time and resources and increases efficiency and accuracy for customers, who often need glasses sooner rather than later. Currently, McCray is putting the finishing touches on their product and readying it to enter the market competitively. Their product is expected to officially do so in early 2020.
For McCray, there was more to gain than a prototype from their applied research project. There was the opportunity to include Centennial College faculty and students in the production of a research project, enhancing their college experience, connections and job readiness. Within a college setting, WIMTACH only enhances the collaboration, networking opportunities and facilitates innovative, multidisciplinary work that companies can do. Ultimately, WIMTACH is dedicated to the rich success that comes with empowering collaboration that creates innovative projects in the name of positive contribution to the local economy and beyond.