NeurotechHA: A Burgeoning Neurotechnology Community in Hamilton
AUTHOR: Saurabh Bhaskar Shaw
Are you interested in discovering and developing exciting new applications of neurotechnology, such as meditating or playing games using your brain signals? Click here to read about NeurotechHA, a collective of neurotech enthusiasts from industry and academia who collaborate on exciting neurotech projects here in Hamilton.
New and constantly developing technologies for brain research, such as electroencephalography (EEG), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), computed tomography (CT), and magnetoencephalography (MEG), have greatly improved our understanding of how the brain is involved in neurodevelopmental and neurodegenerative diseases. Investigators, armed with these techniques, have developed revolutionary new treatments and devices that improve the quality of life of those living with these conditions. One such example is brain computer interfaces (BCIs) that allow locked-in and quadriplegic patients to control a computer using only their brain signals, creating a means to communicate with an otherwise incommunicable patient. BCIs have also been used to control robotic limbs and motorized wheelchairs, thereby improving the mobility of the users. Collectively referred to as neurotechnology, these devices and techniques have only recently emerged over the past twenty years from the collaborative efforts of neuroscientists, engineers, and physicians. As neurotechnologies become more advanced, it is becoming increasingly important to engage all community stakeholders in dialogue about the value neurotechnology can provide, to familiarize them with new technologies, and to foster collaborations that can eventually lead to novel applications of current technologies. This is the core aim of NeurotechX, a global non-profit organization that strives to bring neurotechnology enthusiasts, scientists, and academics together to foster collaboration between industry and innovative researchers.
Neurotech Hamilton (NeurotechHA) is the Hamilton chapter of NeurotechX. NeurotechHA provides a common platform for industry and academic partners to meet and collaborate, thereby fostering a local Hamilton neurotech community. Since our inaugural meeting in June 2017, we have organized numerous workshops to provide our members with basic knowledge regarding neuroscience and neurotechnology. These workshops allow individuals from varied backgrounds to broadly understand the potential and feasibility of projects in this field, and provide a platform for them to work on these projects during weekly ‘hacknights’. In November 2018, these smaller events built up to a weekend-long Neurotech-focused hackathon that saw local physicians, Neurotech companies, and McMaster and Mohawk researchers congregate over exciting Neurotech projects.
More details about this event can be found at https://www.orion.on.ca/news-events/blog/hackathon/.
We also collaborate with government agencies such as theOntario Brain Institute (OBI) to plan and host neurotech workshops and showcases, such as the recent OBI-led showcase event at THEMUSEUM in Kitchener. Hosted in collaboration with NeurotechTO, this event showcased recent advances in neurotechnology, such as brain-controlled lights and communication devices, through numerous interactive learning workshops and exhibits from researchers and companies.