2005 Winner: Industrial Research
Expanding Markets for Innovative Sensor Technology
Sores caused by the pressure of the human body against a hard surface such as a bed, seat or prosthesis can be a serious, even life-threatening medical problem. Prevention and management of pressure-related problems is a constant concern of medical professionals and hospital administrators.
Calgary-based Xsensor Corporation has established itself internationally as a technology leader in designing and manufacturing pressure imaging systems for medical and industrial applications. Hospitals and clinics use Xsensor’s products to measure interface pressure between patients and their support surfaces, such as beds and wheelchair seats. The company’s industrial customers use Xsensor’s pressure imaging systems in a wide range of applications from assessing tire tread designs to measuring wiper blade pressure on windshields. Xsensor also provides customized systems for a variety of industry sectors.
Xsensor’s pressure mapping systems are composed of the company’s proprietary sensor technology, electronic data logging components, and software. The sensor technology is based on capacitive pressure transducers that convert pressure into an electrical reading to provide continuous measurement of pressures across an interface. Xsensor’s transducers are the thinnest, most flexible on the market. The company initially developed its X2 product line for the medical market, and then adapted the technology to the industrial sector. It is now developing an X3 line to meet industrial needs for miniature, highly accurate, low-power pressure sensors. The company’s X3 industrial research project has succeeded in advancing the technology to deliver improvements in accuracy, data collection speed, power consumption, and portability.
Xsensor is now poised to commercialize this latest technology development. Over the past two years, the company has increased its core technical competency in production engineering and quality management to meet the stringent regulatory requirements of the medical market. Xsensor is now a U.S. Food and Drug Administration and European registered medical manufacturing site. During its X3 development phase, Xsensor increased its staff from five employees to 30, adding key young technical experts to build a team for continuing growth. They include three Master’s level researchers who took lead roles on the project. Kevin Altman, who has an MSc. in electrical engineering from the University of Calgary, joined the company in 2004 as Director of Product Development. Li Zeng, who earned her MSc in electrical engineering and computer engineering from the University of Alberta, came on board in July 2005 as the engineer for electronics hardware development. Andras Gyorffy, an MSc. candidate in manufacturing engineering at the University of Calgary, joined the X3 team in April 2004 as Design Engineer.