Category Archives: Digital Media & Web Solutions

Where are they now?: Josh Hanson

Josh Hanson

Josh Hanson is a 2016 graduate of Niagara College’s Computer Programmer Analyst program. Josh worked both part-time and full-time as a web developer during his year at Research & Innovation’s Digital Media & Web Solutions division. For the past year he has worked as a Frontend Developer for Form & Affect, a St. Catharines-based creative marketing agency. 

Tell us a little about where you work:

Form & Affect is a downtown St. Catharines creative marketing agency that uses design, strategy and technology to build meaningful brand experiences. Experts in modern-day strategic marketing, they have supplied high-calibre creative, state-of-the-art digital solutions and conceptual expertise for brands that are well-known both in Niagara and across Canada.

Describe your role and what you like about it:

I’m a Frontend Developer. A lot of my work involves CMS development using platforms like ExpressionEngine and WordPress, creating custom plugins, building interface components, and sprinkling in some progressive enhancement when possible. (CSS GRID!)

It’s a great mix of clients to have because of the variety of work it allows for. I’m able to work on everything from massive e-commerce sites, to mobile apps, and microsites. I’ve been able to build sites for CBC Sports, the Niagara Ice Dogs, local non-profits, and wineries.

One of the cooler things was watching the Winter Olympics on CBC with my family, and having the broadcaster tell people to go visit a site that I helped build.

How has your experience with R&I helped prepare you for your current role?

The R&I experience has prepared me to work in multiple roles. While at R&I, I often had to wear multiple hats as a designer, developer, and project manager. I was able to design, and build websites, apps, and work closely with clients to make sure that we made the best product for them. 

A memorable applied research project during your time at R&I? 

Working on the Wine Council of Ontario site (now renamed Ontario Craft Wineries). On this project, I was able to act as the designer and developer. I built the wireframes, mockups, information architecture, interface, and CMS.

It was a great project to work on because they wanted a fresh start, and they already had a lot of great content and photography for me to use on the site. I was able to build them a responsive website, with a very user-friendly layout.


What led you to Niagara College in the first place?

Niagara had the most well-rounded Computer Programming program for me. The program incorporated design, development, and business classes, so you could get a greater sense of what you wanted to do when you graduated. But I always knew that I was more interested in frontend development. This helped when I was looking for a co-op program and was able to work at R&I.

A faculty member who influenced you?

100% Mark Hardwick. Best teacher I ever had.

I knew immediately within meeting him that I wanted my career path to mirror his. It was such a benefit to have him as a prof as he’s still working in the industry, and everything he teaches you in class is current and something you’ll actually use in the workplace.

He was a big part of me getting to where I am today, and I’m forever grateful.

What advice would you impart on current research students or future alumni?

Don’t limit your learning to just the classroom or workplace. Try to work on some side projects, make an app to make your friends laugh. Try to replicate a website that you think is cool. 

I found that you learn best when you do something that you find joy in.

After being in the workforce, what have you learned?

I’ve learned a lot, and am still learning every day. You don’t realize how much you need “soft skills” until you work in a very collaborative workplace like Form & Affect. I’ve learned that your “coding” skills aren’t the most important part of your job. It’s often the more intangible things like how you work with other people, or how you manage your time, especially if you’re working with a team and need to rely on each other.

Proudest achievement since graduating:

I’m happy with how far I’ve progressed in my career so far, and have built a lot of products that I can be proud of. But outside of work, on a personal level, I’m proud of who I’m becoming. I’ve learned to be more patient with myself, my expectations of myself, and with those around me.

Interests outside of work?

Everything awesome happens during the summer time. I’m more of a spring/summer time kind of person, so anything outside really; hiking, camping, spending time at the beach, playing video games for eight hours, eating prosciutto.

If you could have a billboard message seen by many, what would it say?

Just say OV.

Overcoming ageism by sharing knowledge

AGEWORKS is working to challenge outdated perceptions of what it means to age today and debunk myths surrounding ageism, in both the workplace and the marketplace. Through workshops, special events and forums, they want the public to know how Canada’s aging population is an opportunity, not a problem, to positively impact the economy and the lives of generations to come by maximizing the talents, experience and skills of baby boomers.

In 2018, the Niagara-based company began several projects with Niagara College’s Community and Health Studies division with the goal to help reduce the stigma associated with aging and to raise awareness about age-friendly and age-inclusive issues and practices.

Hosted by the College, AGEWORKS also runs quarterly workshop forums called Business of Ageing Niagara Network (BANN), which are designed to help professionals understand business issues and opportunities targeting an aging population. The company is also working on a two-day event for June 26 and 27, 2018 called AGEWORKS — The Art of Ageing Forum.

While its previous website addressed the company’s current needs, AGEWORKS was interested in a redesigned website that would better reflect the AGEWORKS brand and more effectively communicate with their target groups. Alex Davis, an NC graduate of computer programming, and a Research Associate with R&I’s Digital Media & Web Solutions team, took a lead role in the redevelopment of the company’s website, a project made possible by government funding through NC’s Community and Health Studies division.

Davis redesigned the AGEWORKS website by providing a well-researched solution to improve the functionality, while enhancing the visual appeal. The site’s capabilities were optimized, including the implementation of e-commerce services for the company to sell products and services.

“Alex and his team are true professionals and not only addressed our every need but also took the initiative to augment the effectiveness of the site,” said Ann Hossack, a partner with AGEWORKS.

For more information on digital media projects, visit the website.

Innovation in routine patient monitoring

Studio 1 Labs, a global leader in fabric sensing technology, developed an intelligent bed sheet that monitors vital signs of hospital patients, without the use of attachments to the body. The bed sheet detects respiratory patterns and transmits the data wirelessly to a computer terminal, automating routine patient monitoring for healthcare workers. And with advanced data accuracy and analytics, this technology can predict the onset of health decline and emergencies like apnea, heart attack and stroke.

Studio 1 Labs came to Research & Innovation to obtain help to increase functionality and aesthetics to the user interface.  The Digital Media & Web Solutions team developed an intuitive, aesthetically pleasing user interface for the fabric-sensing technology, which is viewable either by monitor or remotely through a centralized system capable of following multiple patients. The research team also developed interface programming that incorporated various levels of secure access for doctors, nurses and even family members.

While wearable fabric sensing technology has already been gaining ground, Studio 1’s device is a patented method of creating sensors with the ability to “measure variability of pressure and vibration, even when the form factor changes, such as when bent,” says co-founder and managing director Edward Shim.

Hand-made in Canada, the smart bed sheet is unique in that it is concentrated on the depth of pressure for each sensing point. It can alert staff if a patient is at risk for developing pressure ulcers, if a patient is struggling to get on or off the bed, or, most importantly, if someone is in respiratory distress. 

Niagara College’s work, and thanks to support received through the Southern Ontario Network for Advanced Manufacturing Innovation (SONAMI), a Niagara-College-led consortium funded by the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario), has allowed Studio 1 Labs to bring their product closer to commercialization, says Shim.

Successful missions to Taiwan supported by the Canadian Digital Media Network and the Taipei City Government attracted the attention of the Prime Minister of Taiwan and the Taipei City Mayor, notes Shim. The company also won the Top Startup Award at TRANS Healthcare Conference 2018 in Taipei, hosted by the YongLin Healthcare Foundation, one of the largest innovative entrepreneurship symposiums in biomedical and healthcare.

This led to discussions for development, along with sales and distribution channels, with the world’s largest electronics manufacturers. Shim predicts Studio 1 Labs will have its first commercial products ready for Beta testing by Q2 2019.

For more information on digital media projects, visit the website.

Monitoring water level in real time

ParemTech develops Internet of Things (IoT) devices and accompanying software/firmware for niche embedded applications. The Wainfleet company is the creator of the PTLevel 2.0 device, which measures the water level of cisterns, sumps, and similar enclosures holding liquids. A customer dashboard reports water level and usage data to the owner in real time.

To develop the market for the PTLevel 2.0 among water delivery companies, ParemTech looked to the Research & Innovation’s Digital Media and Web Solutions team for additional functionality to the customer dashboard. For this, the company needed to enable its customers to share their device’s readings with water delivery companies and property managers.

Niagara College’s Digital Media & Web Solutions team made improvements to the User Interface and User Experience (UI/UX) of the web application, which enables users to read their cistern levels. Calibration functionality was improved and a “property manager” user type was added. The research team utilized the Google API to add route-mapping functionality for water delivery account owners and predictive analytics were created to forecast when the next fill up would be required. For water delivery companies, the PTLevel 2.0 dashboard now has the ability to manage their customers’ devices and map delivery routes.

The team at NC’s Digital Media & Web Solutions specialize in helping SMEs through a number of various ways: web development and web-based internet applications; creating custom mobile applications or enhancing existing software to make it accessible on a mobile device; and developing innovative solutions for 3D Visualization, artificial intelligence, software simulations, process improvement, and data analysis.

For more information on digital media projects, visit the website.

POSITIONS AVAILABLE with our Digital Media & Web Solutions team

Programming Research Assistant (Part-time, October 2017 – February 2018)

As a Programming Research Assistant, (s)he will have a comprehensive skill set to work with Research & Innovation staff and Industry Partners to develop and implement an optical character recognition software. He or she will have the technical skills and ability to implement web APIs, develop SQL databases, and design mobile friendly web applications. The Research Assistant will report to the Research Project Manager.

Click HERE to view the full job posting. Deadline to apply is Friday, October 13, 2017 at 4:00PM

Programming Research Assistant (Part-time, October 2017 – March 2018)

As a Programming Research Assistant, (s)he will have a comprehensive skill set to work with Research & Innovation staff to maintain and expand a staff time and inventory tracking web application. He or she will have the technical skills and ability to work with SQL databases, and design/modify mobile friendly web applications. The Research Assistant will report to the Research Project Manager.

Click HERE to view the full job posting. Deadline to apply is Friday, October 13, 2017 at 4:00PM

Photography Research Assistant (Part-time)

As a Photography Research Assistant,(s)he will have a comprehensive skill set to work with Research & Innovation staff and Industry Partners to research photography and other image capture technologies to support the development of an optical character recognition software. The Research Assistant will report to the Research Project Manager.

Click HERE to view the full job posting. Deadline to apply is Friday, October 13, 2017 at 4:00PM