Attention future shoppers

Canadian researchers reveal the techie gadgets that consumers will be scrambling for in holiday seasons of the future
December 11, 2013

OTTAWA, December 11, 2013 — With the holiday shopping season here, tech-savvy consumers are snapping up video games and gadgets that will keep their thumbs busy well into the New Year. But many of today’s products, though sleek, remain limited in function and design. Not so for the future of consumer technology. According to researchers supported by the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI), it is only a matter of time before clothes will be “intelligent” and paper will be electric. Here are a few examples of Canadian researchers who are developing new products that could soon move on to the shelves of a future store near you.

  • Joanna Berzowska at Concordia University is weaving electronic fibres into garments which change colour and form in response to the wearer’s movement. The technology also has more practical applications in “intelligent” clothes that can track the wearer’s biorhythms, from pulse and breath to movement and stress. Berzowska says her future fabrics could be used for hospital gowns that record vital signs or military uniforms that harness the thermal energy of a soldier’s body to power up their devices.
  • Roel Vertegaal’s team at Queen’s University’s Human Media Lab has created thin, curvy technology that will bring bend to tablets of the near future. Vertegaal says his technology, called PaperTab, could replace the static single computer screen of today with multiple electronic paper screens one can spread out or connect with each other for a larger, interactive smart surface.
  • Abdulmotaleb El Saddik, head of the Discover Lab at the University of Ottawa, is building smart appliances including a bathroom mirror that watches you watching yourself. This intelligent mirror, says El Saddik, will broadcast the vitals of the day, such as news headlines, weather and traffic. In addition, he says the reflective surface will also give viewers an accurate reading of their body mass index (BMI) so they know just how problematic their “problem areas” really are.
  • Brian Greenspan at Carleton University’s Hyperlab takes listeners on a tour of the shopping spree of the future in a podcast that can be downloaded for broadcast here. Greenspan says malls will be riddled with surveillance technology that will watch people as they browse. Depending on the data they mine from the consumer profiles, he says advertisers will market directly to a shopper’s smart phone, promoting incentives or discounts tailored to a consumer’s specific tastes.

These are just a few of the stories the CFI-funded researchers listed above are prepared to discuss. For additional consumer technology stories, images, video and audio click here for an in-depth report on consumer technology or contact our media relations specialist listed below.

About the Canada Foundation for Innovation

The Canada Foundation for Innovation gives researchers the tools they need to think big and innovate. By investing in state-of-the-art facilities and equipment in Canada’s universities, colleges, research hospitals and non-profit research institutions, the CFI is helping to attract and retain the world’s top talent, to train the next generation of researchers, to support private-sector innovation and to create high-quality jobs that strengthen the economy and improve the quality of life for all Canadians.