A New Initiative for the Digital Commerce Community
The early months of 2011 were busier for us than usual. Thanks to some funding from IRAP, ITAC was in a position to conduct a series of forums on digital commerce in cities across Canada. We showcased some of the leading experts from our community at these forums and got to meet some dynamic folks working in other hotbeds of digital interactive activity. Lynda Brown-Ganzert, for example, is a central figure in the national interactive industry and is a tireless community-builder in the Vancouver digital commerce community. You can read a bit more about Lynda below.
The future is just a click away
For those of us who wonder what we might look like in 20, 40 or even 60 years, thanks to a Canadian software company, we need not wonder anymore.
Aprilage is based out of Toronto – and their age progression software, APRIL, can virtually transform a photograph of a face as young as six years old into a rendition of what that face will look like when it is as old as 72.
Alexandra Brown is President of Aprilage. She explained that the software was originally developed for the Ontario Science Centre with input from National Research Council of Canada, because the OSC was searching for a piece of software they could set up in a kiosk style exhibit to teach children the concept of time passage in an interactive fashion.
The software transforms a two-dimensional photo into a three-dimensional template, and then maps the face according to the age selected. The exhibit took a year to develop, and the OSC still runs it today.
As this first exhibit was being launched, the Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, New York, heard about the software and wanted to use it for an in-school program they were running on keeping women and girls tobacco-free. So Aprilage created a version of APRIL that showed the effects that smoking has on aging. The reaction was extremely positive, Alex said.
Since then, Aprilage has expanded the APRIL software even further to include sun-exposure aging as well as a weight gain module based on body mass index (BMI) measurements – the latter of which Aprilage will be launching this June in Montreal, at the Canadian Public Health Association Conference.
During the company’s early days, they operated largely off enterprise contracts with large organizations in the healthcare, educational and lifestyle sectors. Then in 2006, Aprilage created a consumer application for APRIL (www.age-me.com), which allows individual customers to try aging themselves one or two clicks at a time by purchasing “tokens” (one token per “aging”).
“This customer application is totally driven by consumer demand, and the fact that we’re able to provide it for our customers all over the world just shows how important it is to be flexible and accommodating toward how people want to buy and use your products online,” Alex said. “We want to be nimble enough to provide the service according to how people want to, and can, purchase it.”
Alex said Canada has been a great country from which to roll out the APRIL and www.age-me.com products.
“From my experience in the digital commerce industry working for companies like eBay and Facebook, I’ve learned that many of the key impediments to doing online business smoothly in Canada relate to the shipping of hard goods,” she said. “Since this software is completely online and virtual, we haven’t encountered many of those types of issues at all.”
To drive traffic to their websites, Aprilage has used some very innovative tactics, including the leveraging of social media communities like Facebook and Google AdWords. In conjunction with a number of organizations’ special events, Aprilage has worked with the Ontario Lung Association, TobaccoFreeKids.org, and the World Health Organization to drive traffic from these organizations’ websites to users’ Facebook profiles, as well as www.age-me.com. APRIL has also been featured on an episode of CSI: NY.
“When you say face-aging, lots of people think forensic or police applications right away,” Alex said. “So we’ve got a few police contracts in Australia, Poland and some other places in Europe and the US – and we aim to take a swing at the local market through a Canadian Law Enforcement Conference/ Tradeshow at the end of this month.”Tell us your thoughts on this story
Making the top 10
While many of the world’s most prolific social networking tools facilitate and encourage interaction with huge numbers of people, there is a new player on the scene who is going to be introducing more of a “quality over quantity” approach to staying connected.
Lynda Brown-Ganzert is CEO and Founder of zuluMe – a new private mobile social network app that allows users to create exclusive private groups comprised of themselves and 10 other users.
“It’s a private social network for you and your top 10 friends, and because it’s completely private, it gives you more information about the people closest to you than what you would find on other social networks,” Lynda said. “At a glance, you can see what your inner circle is doing, where they are, and how they’re feeling. You can also share gps location and photos, dedicate songs, send gifts – and all this is done through a customized avatar.”
Lynda said zuluMe is very intuitive and graphics-based, so your avatar can look as much like you as you’d like – this is altered by choice of clothing, mood, and so on. She said it’s an interesting time to release the service, because people are currently shifting away from the larger social networks to smaller, niche networks with group messaging features.
“Now that people have social networking as a primary means of keeping in touch with their larger network, they’re looking for new tools that will let them drill down to a little more detail, or which will allow them to segregate their friends,” Lynda said.
She said the idea came from the thought that our smartphones are smarter than we give them credit for – and that we should ask more of them.
“I just thought the device should be better able to connect me with the people I love beyond a simple 140 characters update or having 500 friends to manage,” she said. “So it was as much of a design barrier as a technical barrier – redesigning a networking model to push the abilities of smartphones and augment naturally occurring human behaviours.”
The application is being developed solely for the iPhone and iPad for now, although Lynda said they will include developing for other mobile operating systems and devices, in the coming year. As for a target audience, she said focus group results have indicated that the application could apply to a broad target market – from families and groups of close-knit friends, to teens and small specialty groups like bridesmaids and groomsmen.
Lynda has over 20 years experience in the industry, and she said part of what has helped her launch this service is the knowledge that Canada has a healthy digital media environment in which companies like zuluMe can grow.
“I’ve spent much of my career thinking about what we need to grow the interactive media ecosystem here in Canada, and this experience has confirmed how I’ve been feeling for quite a long time in my strategy work: that programs like NRC IRAP, SR&ED, et cetera, are really incredible gifts to the sector,” she said.
Lynda said that while Canada can sometimes be seen as a laggard in mobile application uptake compared to countries like India or Brazil, there are pockets of innovation all across the country that need to be recognized and further developed. To do this most effectively, she said we’ll need to focus on a couple things: encouraging industry to help our educational institutions keep up to date so that graduates are entering the workforce with the most cutting-edge skills, as well as finding solutions in the broadband area so that prices are competitive and provoke – rather than prohibit – Canadian innovation and market consumption.
This relates to one of the things that excites her the most about zuluMe – that it is has been created entirely by Canadian talent.
“It’s great to think that something homegrown will potentially be able to compete with the major players in the digital commerce universe – an area that’s very hot right now.”
Indeed should the doors continue to open for Lynda and her zuluMe team, there is no limit to the audience they may attract… and the numbers will be easy to count, 10 at a time.Tell us your thoughts on this story
Meet Denise Shortt: the newest member of the ITAC team
When you ask Denise Shortt about her background, the answer often depends on who is asking. This isn’t because she’s trying to be elusive. Rather, she’s worn enough hats over the past 20-plus years – as an internationally respected educator, speaker, best-selling author, consultant and researcher, to name a few – that a simple one-sentence reply no longer suffices.
Earlier this month, Denise joined the ITAC team as Vice-President of Industry Development. In this role, she will assist ITAC’s efforts in promoting the development of Canada’s ICT and digital industry, while building and supporting communities of interest within the ITAC membership. She will also act as the lead in ITAC’s digital ICT strategy and community building efforts on both the national and global levels.
Denise began her involvement with ITAC working as a consultant on the association’s Digital Commerce Roundtable series earlier this winter. In this role, she helped attract some high-calibre thought leaders in the digital commerce landscape to address the ITAC community, including Tyler Lessard (RIM), Sarah Prevette (Sprouter), Tricia Duryee (AllThingsDigital – the Wall Street Journal’s Digital Network), Jen Evans (Sequentia Environics) and Angus Frame (Globe and Mail). It is through this type of community building exercise that causes Denise to be most engaged about in her new role.
“I found delivering this roundtable series with ITAC to be an extremely fulfilling exercise – both because the subject matter fit perfectly into one of my areas of expertise, but also because I think cultivating this community in Canada is an extremely important endeavour right now,” Denise said. “Bringing the digital industry together, putting thought leaders in the same room, identifying their strengths, challenges, barriers to growth and so on – these sorts of initiatives are becoming increasingly vital to the health of the ICT industry in Canada. I’m thrilled that ITAC is taking a leading role in this area.”
In conjunction with her work in digital media and online community building, Denise is also an internationally respected expert and consultant on gender diversity. She has presented research world-wide on the systemic issues and barriers to gender equity and particularly women’s advancement in ICT. And earlier this month on April 4 (her first day of work with ITAC) she was honoured at the annual Canadian Women in Communications Awards Gala in Ottawa with a National Excellence and Leadership Award as Champion of Women’s Advancement.
Not a bad first day on the job.
“I’ve always been passionate about gender equity issues, and I look forward to contributing to the work ITAC is already doing on this file,” Denise said. “I think this effort also relates to the challenge the ICT industry is having with its talent shortage, in that far too few young people – especially women – view the technology industry as an attractive career path. I am eager to work with ITAC to continue to cultivate the talent pipeline, reaching out to young people to demystify the sector’s negative image, and ultimately, showcasing the industry as an exciting and rewarding career option.”
Denise graduated from both Queen’s University and Harvard University, and has won numerous awards for her work on diversity and innovation. She has contributed to various peer reviewed academic articles and best-selling books, and has sat on a number of Advisory Boards, including ShesConnected.com, Canadian Coalition for Tomorrow’s ICT Skills (CCICT), and Wired Woman Society. For an example of Denise’s written work, check out either of the books she has co-authored, Innovation Nation: Canadian Leadership from Java to Jurassic Park (2002) or Technology with Curves: Women Reshaping the Digital Landscape (2000).Tell us your thoughts on this story
May 2, 2011
May 3-5, 2011
May 10, 2011
May 26, 2011
May 31, 2011
June 14, 2011
For a full event listing, and to register for ITAC events, go to: itac.ca/event_cal
Tickets on Sale for Ingenious Awards Gala – June 14 in Toronto
Tickets are now available for the June 14, 2011, Ingenious Awards Gala in Toronto.
A rigourous judging process is currently underway to determine the winners of this year's Ingenious Awards. Winners in the five categories will be honoured at a gala awards ceremony in Toronto on June 14. The stories of their achievements will then be told across Canada.
Purchase your tickets today: https://secure.e-registernow.com/cgi-bin/mkpayment.cgi?MID=280&state=step2direct&event=500000138779178
Be sure to attend this celebration of Canada's most innovative companies, non-profit and public sector organizations!
ITAC Now Accepting Nominations for the 2011 Volunteer of the Year Award
ITAC Continues to Collaborate with PWGSC on Software Licensing Supply Arrangement
After several months of close collaboration with the federal government on a new vehicle for purchasing software, Public Works and Government Services Canada released a Software Licensing Supply Arrangement on February 1, 2011.
While the initial “pilot” phase for this SLSA is well underway, ITAC continues to work with PWGSC to make the SLSA as mutually beneficial to both industry and government as possible.
Subscribe to the WCIT 2012 in Montreal Newsletter
In May 2012, the 18th World Congress on Information Technology will take place in Montreal, Canada from May 21-23rd. The theme of the congress is “The New Digital Society,” an event that will explore fulfilling the promise of the Digital Age.
The industry’s foremost thought leaders, senior government officials, academic and international institutions and global media will converge in Montreal to discuss how the world can continue to benefit from the information technology and communications technologies.
The WCIT 2012 Organizing Committee invites WITSA members' to subscribe to the WCIT 2012 Monthly Newsletter.
You are requested to subscribe to this newsletter and encourage your members to also subscribe:
Tremblant Venture Summit 2011 – May 4-5, 2011 (Cocktail May 3)
Eastern Canada's premier company financing event, the Tremblant Venture Summit (formerly Tremblant Venture Forum), gets underway next week. With only a few days to go, the ITAC team and the TVS organizing committee have stepped up the pace to bring together:
- 40 world class investors from Quebec, Ontario, Maritimes and eastern USA;
- 25 to 30 of the most promising Canadian early-stage and growth-stage companies to present their innovative projects to leading investors;
- 200 prominent investment professionals, CEOs and entrepreneurs.
Mark your calendar for this 3rd edition! The Summit will be held May 4-May 5, 2011 with a cocktail the evening of May 3, 2011. The event will take place at the Hotel Fairmont Tremblant in the Laurentians, only one hour from Montréal, Québec.
Register online here: http://www.tremblantventuresummit.com.
ITAC Hosts “IT Source” Event Featuring Fred Pitt and Ron Huxter
On April 13, IT Source CEO Fred Pitt, and Cluster CIO and Ron Huxter, updated ITAC on their latest work with IT Source.
Read more event information, and access the event presentations here: http://itac.ca/site/event_details/1998.
ITAC Hosts CCIO Roundtable Breakfast Event Featuring Ontario CCIO David Nicholl
On March 30, Ontario CCIO David Nicholl, along with a number of other departmental CIO’s, presented to the ITAC community on the province’s cluster strategy.
Learn more about the breakfast and access the morning’s presentations here: http://itac.ca/site/event_details/1951.
Other News and Events
Ontario Launches Smart Grid Fund
On April 27, the Ontario Ministry of Energy launched the $50 million Smart Grid Fund (SGF) which will help accelerate the growth of Ontario’s smart grid industry through targeted financial support for projects that advance the commercialization of smart grid products and services in Ontario. This will provide economic development opportunities, including the creation of new jobs and is part of Ontario’s plan to build a modern, reliable energy system. The SGF complements Ontario’s proactive smart grid policy and supports existing government priorities. The SGF is a discretionary, non-entitlement program administered by the Ministry of Energy and funding will be awarded on a competitive basis.
For additional program information, detailed program guidelines and how to apply to the Fund, visit our website http://www.ontario.ca/smartgridfund. The SGF is accepting Project Overview Submissions through to, and no later than, 4:00 pm (EDT) May 27, 2011.
Access the official government news release here: http://www.news.ontario.ca/mei/en/2011/04/smart-grid-technology-coming-to-ontario.html.
New Brunswick IT Council Launches “The Class of 2011” Program to Encourage Youth Enrolme
The New Brunswick Information Technology Council (NBITC) has launched “The Class of 2011,” a program targeted at encouraging more of our youth to pursue careers in Information and Communications Technology (ICT).
The program will result in up to 25 high-school students from the 2011 graduating class to being given firm commitments of an ICT job on graduation from University or Community College, provided they complete a related degree or diploma. Summer employment and Co-op terms are also on the table.
For more information on the program, and about the Council, visit www.nbitc.ca.
Award of Excellence for Comptrollership in the Public Sector
Created by Certified Management Accountants of Canada (CMA Canada) and the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA), the Award of Excellence for Comptrollership in the Public Sector is an annual awards program that recognizes the success of federal public servants who have made significant contributions to financial management and/or comptrollership within the Government of Canada.
The award recipients will be announced at special ceremony to be held on Tuesday, May 10, 2011, at the Fairmont Château Laurier in Ottawa. They will receive national recognition of their achievements and their innovations will serve as a model for how other public sector entities and individuals can enhance their financial management performance, and meet accountability objectives to the highest possible standards.
For more information or to purchase tickets to the event, visit: www.comptrollershipaward.com.
Spotlight Will be on ICT at Canada 3.0 2011 Digital Media Forum in Stratford, Ontario, May 2-4
Canada’s premier national digital media event – the annual Canada 3.0 digital media forum – will have a strong focus on industry this year.
The Canadian Digital Media Network (CDMN) organizing Canada 3.0 2011 says the forum will examine how ICT (Information and Communications Technologies) can advance Canada’s productivity.
Work Placements (Unpaid) to Support Your Projects
Since 2008, Polycultural Immigrant and Community Services has been helping immigrant professionals from a wide variety of fields, including IT, to get connected to employer networks. Through our Enhanced Language Training / Transition to Employment, over 300 professionals have received a linguistic and cultural orientation, as well as an orientation to Canadian workplace culture and employer expectations.
Part of the Transition to Employment is an unpaid work placement of 4-12 weeks. It would be their pleasure to connect you with qualified internationally-trained IT professionals (programmers, networking professionals, and engineers). They can pre-screen and offer interview space, according to your needs.
Let them know when they can connect you:
Contact Sean Lockhart or Jennifer Davies
416-261-4901 x 224 or 416-233-1981
2011 Canadian Telecom Summit – May 31 to June 2
For three full days (May 31 - June 2), The 2011 Canadian Telecom Summit will again deliver thought-provoking insights from the prime movers of the industry. The Canadian Telecom Summit gives you the chance to hear from and talk with them in both a structured atmosphere of frank discussion and high-octane idea exchange and schmooze in a more relaxed social setting of genial conversation over espresso or cocktails.
The Canadian Telecom Summit reviews where we have been as an industry, provides an understanding of the dynamics that propel it and forecasts future trends & expected developments.