SFU innovations in wearable tech for improving our lives advances with $1.8M in federal support

April 25, 2022
SFU professor Edward Park, scientific co-director for WearTech Labs, a new core facility at SFU's Surrey campus. WearTech Lans has received $1.8 million in federal funding from the Pacific Economic Development Agency of Canada.

WearTech Labs, a new core facility hosted at Simon Fraser University’s (SFU) Surrey campus, has received $1.8 million in federal funding from the Pacific Economic Development Agency of Canada (PacifiCan) to help invent, test and create wearable technology that improves the quality of our lives.

This funding will help the initiative operate more labs for prototyping potentially innovative products. It will allow WearTech Labs to facilitate more collaborations between academia, government, industry, healthcare providers and end-users while helping train and develop a pool of skilled workers for this emerging industry.

“Our new labs will simulate a wide-range of environmental conditions experienced around the world,” says SFU professor Max Donelan, WearTech Labs scientific co-director. “It will enable our academic and industrial partners to develop and test wearable devices that truly work for anyone no matter how they live their lives.”

Wearable technologies (wearables) are personalized systems that have up-to-date and accurate monitoring of a person’s health and current body condition. At WearTech Labs, wearables are not only devices such as smart watches and fitness trackers, but are also exoskeletons, earphones, shoes and much more. 

These devices can also be used to help monitor a wide range of medical conditions such as COVID-19 or stroke rehabilitation that can hinder someone in their day-to-day life.

“PacificCan's investment is very timely and greatly appreciated,” says SFU professor Edward Park, WearTech Labs scientific co-director. “It will help us develop new health, fitness and fashion wearables that promote better-connected and healthier lifestyles, while also advancing the transformation of the wearable technology industry.”

WearTech Labs is part of SFU’s Core Facility Program. These facilities are purpose-built to house and provide access to infrastructure shared across the whole SFU community and beyond. They allow for the pooling of resources at a university scale, providing opportunities to acquire world-class equipment and to realize economies of scale in facility management.

“SFU researchers are working with other top innovators in advancing wearable technologies to improve our lives,” says Angela Brooks-Wilson, SFU’s associate vice-president, research pro tem. “Thank you to PacifiCan’s generous support as we continue to expand SFU's capacity in research excellence and innovation.”

This investment was part of PacifiCan’s $11.8 million funding announcement earlier this month to support both wearable healthcare solutions and another SFU initiative to help grow British Columbia’s agriculture sector. See the full story on SFU News.