A Geordi La Forge visor and other cool do-gooder gadgetry

A Geordi La Forge visor and other cool do-gooder gadgetry

These three companies are using their powers for good

The ESight3 is helping blind people see

Conrad Lewis, a Toronto engineer, got the idea for his high-tech eyeglasses when his sister was diagnosed with a degenerative eye condition that left her legally blind. After tinkering with a few clunky prototypes, Lewis devised the ESight3, a wearable device that looks a little like Geordi La Forge’s futuristic visor on Star Trek. The ­system uses a high-speed, high-­definition camera to ­capture whatever the wearer is looking at. The video feed is then enhanced and projected on two full-colour OLED screens, magnifying it up to 24 times its size. The cameras can alternate between short-range (reading), mid-range (watching TV) and long-range vision (walking outside), automatically focusing without any ­vertigo-inducing delays. The glasses are also Bluetooth- and Wi-Fi-enabled—hello, personal Netflix. Anyone looking for a feel-good cry can check out the company’s website for videos of people using ESight to read the newspaper, watch a sunset or see their children for the very first time.


Nia Technologies gave this little girl a new foot

In a city where every entrepreneur wants to be a zillionaire, it’s nice to find a heartwarming non-profit like Nia Technologies, which 3-D prints prosthetics for people in the developing world. A clinician creates a digital model of whatever remains of a patient’s limb, then feeds the model into a 3-D printer, which creates a plastic socket that fits the stump. Over the past two years, Nia’s team has created prosthetics for more than 140 children in Africa and Asia. The first patient was Roseline, a four-year-old Ugandan girl who was born without a right foot. Because the hospital was low on supplies, she was initially given a lefty prosthetic (she later got the correct one). “You would not believe how happy this little girl was,” says Nia co-founder Jerry Evans. “She was standing on two left feet, but she was smiling ear to ear.”


The Tecla-E makes it possible for almost anyone to use a smartphone

Smartphones are supposed to make life easier, but for people who can’t use their hands or arms, they’re about as useful as paperweights. The brainiacs behind the Tecla-E have created a solution. Launched by Mauricio Meza, a biomedical engineer, and Jorge Silva, a tech researcher who has worked at U of T, Holland Bloorview Kids and OCAD, the portable, rechargeable device allows those with minimal upper body movement to control smart devices via eye movement, sip-and-puff controllers and head arrays on wheelchairs. They can make phone calls, answer emails, search the web and take selfies—totally hands-free.

The Incredible Rise of Tech

Welcome to the new Silicon Valley

We have hungry entrepreneurs, deep-pocketed investors, next-level start-ups and an infinite supply of brilliant ideas. Inside Toronto’s tech revolution

Everybody’s hiring

In the last year, Toronto created some 22,500 tech jobs—twice the number of new gigs as in New York City