Researchers, industry and government partners engage at VISTA Innovation and Technology Day

York's Dragon Ball prototype
York’s Dragon Ball prototype

Researchers, industry and government professionals with a focus on vision sciences were brought together on June 26 for the VISTA Innovation and Technology Day, a full-day event hosted by York University’s collaborative and interdisciplinary vision research program, Vision: Science to Applications (VISTA).

The event provided an opportunity for York researchers to learn about industry interests and challenges in vision sciences, and also to identify research collaboration projects with partners across all sectors.

Attendees at VISTA Innovation and Technology Day
Attendees at VISTA Innovation and Technology Day

Attended by 75 industry participants, 150 researchers and 25 representatives from government and the not-for-profit sector, VISTA Innovation and Technology Day provided a forum for interaction, engagement and learning opportunities. This event was undertaken with funding from the Canada First Research Excellence Fund (CFREF) as well as the sponsorship by Qualcomm, a VISTA partner, and the Ontario Centres of Excellence.

“The 2018 Innovation and Technology Day was the second full-day VISTA event that brought together York vision scientists and engineers with their government and industry counterparts,” said Richard Wildes, associate director of VISTA, and faculty member in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. “As with the first such event, reactions from participants was uniformly positive and underlined the importance of such cross-sector information exchanges that allow current needs and capabilities to be shared, even while new directions are charted.”

The keynote speaker, Sven Dickinson, is the head of the new Samsung AI Centre – Toronto and is a professor at the University of Toronto. He delivered an address on “The Role of Symmetry in Human and Computer Vision.”

Featuring four panel discussions, an industry showcase and research showcase, the event examined the industry challenges and latest technology trends in four categories: video and image processing, human computer interaction, robotics and clinical applications.

A spherical robot, "dragon ball", on display at VISTA Innovation and Technology Day
A spherical robot, “dragon ball,” on display at VISTA Innovation and Technology Day

The panels included government, industry and academic experts. Participation from York University faculty included: Professor Laurie Wilcox as moderator for the panel on human-computer interaction, which included Professor Melanie Baljko as a panellist; Professor Lauren Sergio as a panellist on clinical applications; Wildes as moderator for the panel on video and imaging processing; and Professor Michael Jenkin as a robotics panellist.

The research showcase of the VISTA Innovation and Technology Day highlighted the leading-edge vision research happening at York University. Two research groups received a $500 cash award each, sponsored by Qualcomm. Winners included research groups led by Professor Alidad Amirfazli, who presented a novel smartphone-based lab instrument that uses computer vision techniques for surface science measurements, and Professor Nima Tabatabaei, who has developed an imaging method for high-sensitivity detection of marijuana use from saliva samples. The event also showcased the broad range of vision-related technologies produced by Canadian companies.

“I would like to thank the VISTA team for organizing this very important event,” said Vice-President Research and Innovation Robert Haché. “VISTA is a highly collaborative program, funded by the Canada First Research Excellence Fund, which builds on York University’s world-leading interdisciplinary expertise in biological and computer vision. It will propel Canada as a global leader in the vision sciences by integrating visual neuroscience with computer vision to drive innovation.”