Durham College’s AI Hub partners with marketing services and analytics company, MobileXCo

Durham College’s (DC) Hub for Applied Research in Artificial Intelligence for Business Solutions (the AI Hub) is pleased to announce it has partnered with marketing services & analytics company MobileXCo on a project focused on using AI and machine learning (ML) to help automate Tether, its web-based experience marketing platform.

In a time when consumers are driven by experiences, brands are looking to engage them in interactive and memorable ways. However, it can be difficult to measure which parts of a company’s marketing initiatives are delivering true value. Enter MobileXCo and Tether™, which helps companies close the gap between their promotion-type marketing activities and understanding how they contribute to sales by linking campaign participation and activity to transactions at retail.

By taking a transaction-centric approach to consumer participation in contests and gift-with-purchase reward programs, MobileXCo directly links specific consumer activity to a purchase. In the process they collect valuable data related to the participants and their transactions and analyze it to surface valuable insights.

In partnership with DC, the objective is to automate as much of the receipt data extraction, organization and analysis as possible. The end result will be a more streamlined and less labour intensive solution that inherently delivers incremental value based on data.

Over the course of four phases, DC faculty and student-research assistants from the college’s Computer Programmer Analyst and Data Analytics for Business Decision Making programs are working directly with MobileXCo, providing them with an opportunity to not only learn about advanced AI technologies but also hands-on industry experience developing a real, functional solution for a client.

Work with MobileXCo is scheduled to be completed early in January 2019. The project is one of several research initiatives being undertaken by the AI Hub, which will be further enhancing its capacity following the approval of $2 million in funding from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), through the council’s College and Community Innovation Program.


Durham College to host artificial intelligence summit in June

Durham College’s (DC) Hub for Applied Research in Artificial Intelligence for Business Solutions (AI Hub) is pleased to announce plans for the inaugural Enable AI Summit, a one-day conference to be held on Thursday, June 6.

Using experiential learning to upskill attendees, the conference will provide a platform for community members to converge around core applications and empower businesses to solve complex operational problems through applied research and AI. Attendees will hear from industry experts, participate in master classes, and receive certification in specialized applications, while an awards ceremony and gala will take place at the conclusion of the summit, allowing for rich networking opportunities.

The announcement came during the AI Hub’s third Tech Talk on November 30, which featured a presentation from Mohsen Azari, senior cyber security lead at Walmart Canada, and a panel discussion with Farooq Naiyer, chief information security officer at ORION, and Danish Arshad, executive director at the International Council of E-Commerce Consultants, the world’s largest cyber security technical certification body. The sold out event, part of a larger speaker series that occurs throughout the year, explored cyber security and AI’s disruption of the threat landscape. Azari, along with other thought-leaders in the AI sector, will work alongside DC to develop the upcoming summit.

Customized for attendees at every level of the AI knowledge scale, the conference aims to showcase the potential nestled within the Durham Region and across the Greater Toronto Area. With the AI Hub celebrating its first anniversary this December, the summit will be an exciting event on the horizon as it continues to offer small and medium-sized enterprises a much-needed access point to the rapidly growing field of AI.

Operationally situated within the Office of Research Services, Innovation and Entrepreneurship (ORSIE), the AI Hub is an extension of the college’s success in applied research, utilizing AI techniques and methodologies to solve complex business problems. The AI Hub began as an internal exploration of AI within the college and gradually mobilized into a community-facing, industry-focused application of AI across Ontario’s ecosystem.


City of Oshawa supports DC’s AI Hub through Tech Talk sponsorship

On October 29, Durham College (DC) hosted Tushar Singh, CEO of Minute School, for a Tech Talk on special needs education and artificial intelligence at the Hub for Applied Research in Artificial Intelligence for Business Solutions (AI Hub). Part of a larger speaker series that occurs throughout the year, these talks explore business trends and possibilities in artificial intelligence (AI) research and design and highlight the growing field of AI.

To support DC’s AI Hub, representatives from the City of Oshawa were also present to announce a sponsorship commitment for future Tech Talks related to cyber security, health care and real estate. The City will be providing the AI Hub with $3000 in financial support and assistance garnering engagement from local and external businesses and stakeholders.

“We are thrilled to have found a partner in the City of Oshawa,” said Debbie McKee Demczyk, dean, Office of Research Services, Innovation and Entrepreneurship (ORSIE), DC. “With this type of support, the AI Hub will continue to influence innovation and research in AI through its Tech Talks and further boost economic development in the area.”

“Artificial intelligence is ushering in a new industrial revolution. The integration of AI solutions, even for small business owners, will be vital to Oshawa’s economy and the future competitiveness of firms,” said Kyle Benham, director, Economic Development Services, City of Oshawa. “We believe that our support of the AI Hub represents another great opportunity to showcase AI in the City of Oshawa as an eastern growth and innovation centre for the GTA.”

Housed within ORSIE, the AI Hub offers small and medium enterprises a much-needed access point to the rapidly growing field of AI. Companies interested in how AI and digital transformation can enhance their businesses are encouraged to visit www.durhamcollege.ca/theAIHub or contact the AI Hub team directly via email or phone at 905.721.3223.


Durham College once again named one of Canada’s Top 50 Research Colleges

Durham College (DC) has once again been named one of Canada’s Top 50 Research Colleges by Research Infosource Inc., a Canadian research and development intelligence company. This is the sixth consecutive year the college has been included on the list, which is informed by data on research income, research intensity, research partnerships and projects at colleges across the country.

DC’s Office of Research Services, Innovation and Entrepreneurship (ORSIE), which is responsible for facilitating all applied research at the college, has been hard at work in 2018. With a mandate to solve industry and social challenges through innovation and collaboration, ORSIE has launched two new research centres, undertaken 41 social innovation, artificial intelligence (AI) and other industry-led applied research projects and placed 60 student research assistants this fiscal year alone.

“We are very proud to be recognized for our research efforts,” said Debbie McKee Demczyk, dean, ORSIE. “With the help of dedicated and talented faculty, students and industry partners, we are undertaking groundbreaking initiatives that further strengthen Durham College’s position as a leader in the applied research space.”

DC’s Hub for Applied Research in Artificial Intelligence for Business Solutions (the AI Hub) is one such initiative. Now with a dedicated space on campus to conduct its research activities, the hub is designed to offer industry partners access to technical expertise, state-of-the-art facilities and platforms as well as student talent, helping businesses uncover insights while providing intelligent and autonomous solutions that increase productivity and growth.

Thanks to $250,000 in funding, awarded through the Government of Ontario’s Colleges Applied Research and Development Fund and administered by Ontario Centres of Excellence, the AI Hub is studying how “narrow AI” can help small- and medium-sized enterprises uncover new insights while also providing intelligent and autonomous solutions that help increase their efficiency and development.

The AI Hub will also offer applied research opportunities for students enrolled in DC’s new graduate certificate program,Artificial Intelligence Analysis, Design and Implementation. The first of its kind in Canada, the program launches in September 2019 and aims to make students employable even before they graduate. It is tackling the shortage of AI professionals by putting emphasis on hands-on learning and training, as students gain real-world experience while solving actual business problems through capstone projects, an optional work term and research with the AI Hub.

In addition, ORSIE opened the doors to the Centre for Craft Brewing Innovation (CCBI) at DC’s Whitby campus. By providing access to expertise, state-of-the-art technology and micro-analytical services, the CCBI helps craft brewers experiment with new recipes and flavour profiles, propagate and maintain yeast strains and conduct scientific analyses to ensure the analytical and microbiological integrity of the beer, supporting this growing sector of the local economy.

From helping to refine and add AI capabilities to the functionality of a distant healthcare delivery app to assisting in the development of an award-winning non-alcoholic craft beer recipe, ORSIE continues to prove why DC is a top research college year after year.

For more information or to learn about ORSIE’s research capabilities visit www.durhamcollege.ca/research.


DC’s AI Hub is using AI to improve home care

The Durham College Hub for Applied Research in Artificial Intelligence for Business Systems (AI Hub) and iCare Home Health (iCare) are partnering to bring advanced AI features to iCare’s mobile application for distant healthcare delivery. 

The Health Espresso app, which serves Canadians who are in home-based post recovery from an operation or simply aging in the familiar surroundings of home, virtually monitors patients’ medication adherence and tracks their body readings to reduce critical health events leading to hospital admissions. Current features include audible reminders of medication dosage timing and tracking medication intake.

The new features under development add AI functionality that brings voice control through natural language detection and processing (think Apple’s Siri or Amazon’s Alexa) and a prescriptive action framework that provides smart suggestions for enhanced care and compliance with the recovery schedule. For example, the app could intuit a need to take action, such as giving an audible reminder, after a certain amount of inactivity.

“Speech recognition, recommendation generation and the implementation of a flexible machine learning framework will enhance the user friendliness of Health Espresso for our intended target market,” says Rick Menassa, president and CEO, iCare. “This type of innovation is solidifying Canada’s leadership in AI internationally and showcases DC’s AI Hub and its position at the forefront of implementing AI technology in business solutions.”

Led by DC professor Amit Maraj, the project provides student working as researcher assistants (RAs) to gain valuable AI and project development skills that will differentiate them from other graduates upon entering the workforce.  AI and the multi-disciplinary skills required to implement AI techniques within a business are some of the most coveted and sought-after skills by firms around the world, ranging from small start-ups to multinationals.

The RAs working under Professor Maraj’s supervision are currently implementing in-app speech recognition and will begin building the intent-based model for application control shortly after. By the end of the 33-week project, the RAs will have gained a solid theoretical understanding of AI techniques, including Deep Neural Networks and Recurrent Neural Networks with practical expertise implementing them in commercial business solutions.

“This project is providing me with opportunities to further my knowledge, not only from a technical stand point but also from a team-building standpoint,” says RA Nicholas Carpenter, a third-year Computer Programmer Analyst student. “By building something from the ground up, this is helping me see the entire process of starting a new project. Being on the bleeding edge of technology and designing AI to help people in need has been a great experience.”

Adds Menassa, “The potential of data, smartphone apps, sensors and AI to improve healthcare for all is nearly limitless. Partnering with and leveraging Durham College’s pool of exceptional talent and skills has been a positive experience and a natural fit from the onset. iCare is looking forward to continuing our collaboration with DC for years to come.”

The AI project has already spawned two additional projects between the organizations.

Housed within the college’s Office of Research Services, Innovation and Entrepreneurship (ORSIE), the AI Hub offers small and medium enterprises a much-needed access point to the rapidly growing field of AI.  Companies interested in how AI and digital transformation can enhance their businesses are encouraged to visit www.durhamcollege.ca/theAIHub or contact the AI Hub team directly via email or phone at 905.721.3223.


Durham College launches first-of-its-kind applied research AI Hub

Durham College (DC) is announcing the launch of the Durham College Hub for Applied Research in Artificial Intelligence for Business Systems, to be known more commonly as the AI Hub. Housed within the college’s Office of Research Services, Innovation and Entrepreneurship (ORSIE), the AI Hub offers small and medium enterprises (SMEs) a much-needed access point to the rapidly growing field of Artificial Intelligence (AI).

DC’s AI Hub offers industry partners access to technical expertise, state-of-the-art facilities and learning platforms, and students who are emerging leaders in their fields, so that through applied research projects they may uncover business insights and implement intelligent and autonomous solutions to increase their companies’ productivity and growth.

AI is transforming the ways in which business systems, consumer interactions and devices are being developed and used. By building upon Canada’s established lead in AI scientific research, DC’s AI Hub aims to ensure this emerging and vital competitive advantage for business can be understood, developed and adopted by SMEs.

The AI hub is focused on how “narrow AI” can be used to help SMEs unlock competitive advantage through the adoption of AI. Narrow AI refers to any software that uses technologies such as machine learning (ML), decision support, natural language processing and automation to recommend strategic options, make decisions autonomously and act in a manner that would be considered intelligent.

In addition to supporting SMEs, the AI Hub also provides DC students and alumni opportunities to gain highly sought-after AI and ML skills and experience to improve their competitiveness in today’s job market.

As part of the AI Hub’s establishment, DC also launched three internal projects to accelerate the college’s adoption of AI and commissioned a new GPU Accelerated AI Systems Lab for research and teaching purposes.

The college has also just announced its eighth AI applied research project launched in 2017. DC and Toronto-based flitePLAN International (flitePLAN) are partnering on a project using AI and advanced development techniques to address the financial and ecological benefits of fuel optimization in commercial aviation.

Companies interested in how AI and digital transformation can enhance their businesses are encouraged to visit www.durhamcollege.ca/theAIHub or contact the AI Hub team directly at theaihub@durhamcollege.ca or 905.721.3223.