A new research centre at the University of Waterloo that will revolutionize the ability to predict and delay illness and injury associated with aging is receiving $1.3 million toward wireless wearables and other devices and technology.

The contribution from the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) will support a variety of diagnostic and measurement tools in the Advanced Aging ResearCH Centre (ARCH) at Waterloo, which will house Canada’s most comprehensive collection of equipment focused on aging.

The Honourable Ed Holder, Minister of State (Science and Technology) announced the investment for new research infrastructure through the CFI's Innovation Fund at an event in Ottawa today.

More than $4 million was awarded to four Waterloo teams:

  • Raafat Mansour (Electrical and Computer Engineering): A Platform for CMOS-MEMS Integration and Characterization ($607, 448)
  • Bill McIlroy (Kinesiology): Advanced Aging ResearCH Centre (ARCH) to transform health and well-being of older adults ($1,387,023)
  • William Melek (Mechanical and Mechatronics Engineering): The RoboHub: A Robotic Test Facility for Multi-Robot Teams ($1,512,194)
  • Daniel Vogel (Mathematics): Facility for Fully Interactive Physio-digital Spaces ($616,306)

“This will be transformative to us,” said Bill McIlroy, professor and chair of the Department of Kinesiology at Waterloo, and lead principal investigator of ARCH. “We know the human body’s systems begin to change as early as your 30s and 40s, and tools to assess bone health, the brain, mobility, and genomics will help us better understand the trajectory of aging and who is at risk in later stages. People don’t age one system at a time, so if you want to tackle the challenges of aging you’ve got to assess the whole body and all the systems together.”

ARCH will offer one-stop health assessment allowing participants to learn more about their own health and how to preserve it. Clinician researchers will be able to use the data collected to help better manage conditions related to aging. For researchers, the centre will create a hub of opportunities for testing, as well as research and development on wearable technologies that will lead to commercialization of new products.

Wearable technologies offer more in-depth and accurate readings making prevention and treatment more effective. For example, an individual’s assessment of the risk of a fall will be improved by monitoring everyday activity to determine the circumstances where near falls happen, and whether people are using their assistive devices, such as a walkers.

“CFI’s infrastructure funding is essential in providing researchers with the equipment and tools they need to conduct world-class research. It can make a significant difference in meeting our research objectives of advancing science and knowledge, and supporting Canada’s competitive edge,” said D. George Dixon, Vice-President, University Research at Waterloo.

More information on the Innovation Fund and today's announcement is available on the CFI website.

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