“My worst concussion symptom to date has been my severe sensitivity to light, which has made the use of a computer next to impossible. Iris’ secondary computer monitor allowed me to use my computer again and go back to work. It allowed me to increase my work day from a couple hours to a full day. I would recommend this device to anyone who has difficulty viewing a computer screen caused by light sensitivity.”

             – David Goldband, Senior Manager, Grant Thornton LLP1

Screen use is a ubiquitous and necessary aspect for job performance, and for completing most school projects. Basic activities, like texting, searching for a friend’s contact info in your phone, or reading company reports off your work computer, these all require the use of a backlit, LCD screen. For an individual suffering from a mild traumatic brain injury, colloquially known as a concussion, participating in daily life during recovery can present some health challenges.  For this reason, Colin Harding and Conor Ross started Iris out of Ryerson’s Biomedical Zone — a company that has developed a non-backlit monitor to assist patients suffering with mild traumatic brain injuries.

Both Colin and Conor were inspired to develop this company after both had experienced a friend or family member suffering from mTBI. Because even a mild concussion can reduce an individual’s cognitive ability and sensory capacity, this team sought a product design that addressed the issue of light sensitivity commonly found in mTBI sufferers.

A LCD screen, like those found on a desk computer, refreshes around 60 times per second, exasperating concussion symptoms. Due to this added stress, health care practitioners have typically advised their patients to limit screen-use during recovery.2  However, channeling their intimate experiences with mTBI, Iris developed an assistive device that significantly reduces the number of symptoms triggered while using a computer screen – headaches, dizziness, nausea, to name a few.

Iris’ screen uses a magnetized polymer to create shapes on the display, as opposed to light modulating liquid crystals of an LCD screen, which does not easily trigger symptoms for the user as the screen does not need to be constantly refreshed, and is not backlit. Importantly, with Iris’ secondary, e-paper computer monitor prototype, users are not obligated to transfer their documents and files from one device to the other. With this approach, Iris successfully completed a new way of addressing light sensitivity found in patients recovering from mTBI.

The Biomedical Zone is one of three of our ten Zone Learning incubators primarily focused on science-based project development. There is an incredible opportunity for biomedical engineers, researchers, clinicians, business experts and innovative thinkers to collaborate with health care professionals, to develop present-day solutions for medical needs. As it states in the mission statement of the Biomedical Zone’s website: “through the Biomedical Zone, startups are able to rapidly iterate their technology, refine their business model, and demonstrate clinical value.”

Colin Harding’s role as co-founder is the business development of Iris, including the company’s marketing, sales, IP, and finances. He is an alumnus of the Smith School of Business at Queen’s University. Conor Ross’ role includes the development of Iris’ products, the company’s supply chain, and clinical research. He is a co-founder of Iris, and an alumnus of Mechanical Engineering at Queen’s University.

If you are interested in the work taking place at the Biomedical Zone, with a project you want to develop, learn more, here. Want to learn more about Iris? Peruse through this company’s website, here.

 

Citations:

“e-Paper Monitor: A New Approach to Address Light Sensitivity in Patients Recovering from Concussions.” Iris Technologies, INC., p. 9 . 
2 (July 27, 2017) “Non-LCD Technology Shows Promise for Return to Work/ School for Postconcussion Syndrome Sufferers.” UHN: University Health Network, website: http://www.uhn.ca/corporate/News/PressReleases/Pages/Non-LCD_technology_shows_promise_for_return_to_work_school_for_postconcussion_syndrome_sufferers.aspx .