Humber Collaborates on Smart Spatial Logistics with Embedded Sense Inc.

Orren Johnson, a part-time professor at Humber College’s Faculty of Applied Sciences and Technology (FAST), approached Applied Research & Innovation (ARI) with a proposal to develop a spatial occupancy monitoring application.


In collaboration with industry partner Embedded Sense Inc., Johnson received an Engage Grant from the Natura l Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) to begin the research project. The grant allowed Johnson to hire student research assistants Rakshit Solnki, Ankur Patel, and Dharmesh Patel from FAST to assist him.


Getting Started


Johnson and his team applied Embedded Sense’s Occupancy Monitoring System to monitor space usage for the following two tasks: optimizing workspaces to reduce cost and providing alerts of activity or inactivity. Over time, the gathered data feeds an algorithm that helps plan and predict future space occupancies.


In practice, Johnson’s work could be used to better care for individuals with Alzheimer’s Disease. For example, motion sensors placed in patient rooms can alert caregivers to movement, or lack thereof.


“One of our test patients is an elderly individual who is in the early stages of Alzheimer’s and they wanted to know how often this individual went to the kitchen. There is no personal data, it just checks for movement,” said Johnson.


The team had originally planned on gathering sensor data at the Barrett Centre for Technology Innovation (BCTI), but COVID-19 forced them to adapt their approach. Embedded Sense Inc. was able to provide the team with real-time data to continue on their research.


ARI provided logistical help throughout the project, particularly in managing the team’s budget. “They were instrumental in the budgetary aspect and making sure we reported on time,” Johnson said.


Embedding Student Success into Applied Research


Humber’s collaboration with Embedded Sense was woven seamlessly into students’ learning experiences.


“The onboarding journey was very quick. Within no time, we as a team, were able to develop the prototype,” Patel said.


“The biggest benefit of the project was the opportunity to work on a commercial project, said Solanki.


“Getting paid for what you love to do was a cherry on top.”


Setting Plans in Motion


The initial results of Professor Johnson’s project will be given to Embedded Sense Inc. for analysis. The plan is to eventually move forward with a proper pilot at the BCTI to further test and improve sensor capabilities.


Working with ARI has helped push Johnson’s research forward, but he stresses its profound impact on students.


“Students get real experience – they learn that nothing is set in stone” Johnson said.