Ryerson RC4 – Incubating Cloud and Context Aware Computing for the Internet of Things

robot-presents2-400x250It’s really hard to believe Canada has ‘innovation gap’ woes when you check out the work of centres like the RC4 program at Ryerson University.

Last night I attended their open house and learned about what is a deep domain of expertise in what they describe as ‘Context Aware’ technologies – Sensors, smart software, and so on.

You get it of course, the ‘Internet of Things’.

What was especially impressive was both the breadth and depth of the academic research taking place, covering many of the different individual IoT domains, such as sensors, smart software, robotics, 3-D printing and so on, as well as how their projects are both creative  and also practical.

Highlights included a smart kitchen that fine-tunes your coffee for you, the popular Go Mobile app, gaming technologies and much more, and of course a smart robot who bowed to Prince Charles.

One of their sponsors the Ontario Ministry of Transport, described how they very effectively deliver practical business solutions such as ‘CAVALIS‘:

CAVALIS is an acronym for Context-Aware Vehicular and Logistics Information Systems. The project, in collaboration with the Ministry of Transportation of Ontario, is a unified software framework that delivers a series of intuitive, easy-to-use and customized Traveller Information Services (TIS).

Truly a wealth of projects and innovators for Toronto to be proud of.

Thingcubator – Building IoT Commercialization capacity

So what does go wrong? How can Canada be punching at this weight but yet landing no blows? Why does Canada as a whole perform so poorly compared to their global and city peers, in terms of industrial innovation productivity, when there is such a strong engine at the core?

Well as we discussed last night if you think of the innovation process as being one part of putting young chicks “out the nest”, then Canada can be seen to be investing hugely in this first stage of hatching new chicklets, but under-funding and under-supporting the second Commercialization part, the being pushed out the nest part.

In short the tree they’re being pushed out of is huge and well stocked, but without some trainer wings, goggles and a flying jacket, it just means there is a further fall to the bottom where many of these young birds are ending up, all piled up.

For Theory of Constraints fans, it means it’s pointless pumping $$ billions into one part of the production system, giving it 100 units per hour capacity, if the next sequence in the manufacturing process can only hand a throughput of 10.

You could expand the first to 1,000 units per hour, but your overall output from the factory will only ever be 10 units, and this is Canada’s problem, i.e. the Research phase of innovation has 100 units capacity, versus the second Commercializtion stage which has only 10, so Canada’s overall performance is 10.

This positions our new Thingcubator organization. It’s role is to build this second part, increasing capacity for the ability to take these seed ideas and turn them into companies, which then grow into the billion dollar empires of tomorrow.



  1. As a local tech company in Toronto, we are excited to see educational institutes are involved in the IoT. I think the Canadian tech industry has to play catch-up in this game.

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