Keynote Speakers

  • Collection and Mining of Urban Life Signals for the Smart City
    by Alberto Leon-Garcia
    Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Toronto
    In this talk we consider the challenge of collecting and mining the demand and resource availability data for all key resources and infrastructures in an urban region: energy, air quality, food, water, waste, ICT; and transportation, safety, power grids, health, buildings, homes, industry. These urban life signals are essential to the discovery of resource consumption behaviour and provide a basis for the synthesis of sustainability strategies in urban regions. We report on our efforts on the design and deployment of a data-gathering, storage, and analytics platform for continuous, real-time, and ongoing collection of demand and resource availability data for all key resources and infrastructures in an urban region. Our approach involves leveraging open data initiatives and as well as deploying the next generation of sensors, UAVs, wireless networks, edge computing, and integration with cloud infrastructures in collaboration with cities that can serve as smart city testbeds.


    Leon-Garcia Professor Alberto Leon-Garcia is Distinguished Professor in Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Toronto. He is a Fellow of the Institute of Electronics an Electrical Engineering “For contributions to multiplexing and switching of integrated services traffic”. He is also a Fellow of the Engineering Institute of Canada and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He has received the 2006 Thomas Eadie Medal from the Royal Society of Canada and the 2010 IEEE Canada A. G. L. McNaughton Gold Medal for his contributions to the area of communications. Professor Leon-Garcia is author of the leading textbooks: Probability and Random Processes for Electrical Engineering, and Communication Networks: Fundamental Concepts and Key Architecture. He is Scientific Director of the NSERC Strategic Network for Smart Applications on Virtual Infrastructures.

    Smart Wearables: Changing Lives
    by Nikhil Jain
    Qualcomm Technologies, Inc.
    Wearables on the wrist and the ear have evolved from being a fad to becoming useful and beautiful thing to have on our bodies. They have changed the way we function and how we stay healthy. Just a few years ago they started off as a fad, today they have evolved into being real, affordable and useful. They have helped us to quantify wellness. Insurance companies are now using it as tool to reduce cost. Its cool to wear them and people have started to use them. This progress has come through a lot of experimentation and learnings. We have been at the forefront of this and is the subject of this keynote.
    Toq was a smart watch and headset that was built at Qualcomm. We will talk about the journey we took to develop the product and release it. Technology challenges that we faced and how they were overcome. This early learning became the foundation to understand what should be the technology building blocks that we need to help customers build watches and headsets. This lead to the creation of new use cases, business models, ecosystem and silicon that enabled the industry to scale.
    Access to important building blocks allowed new design houses and companies to create interesting products. Some of them have become a “must have”. We will talk about a few of them and explain why they excel at what they do and why they deserve a place on the human body. New use case range from predicting seizures to counting the level of activity in our daily lives. Some of these watches redefine how we relate to our cellphone and how we communicate. These use models present new challenges to the network that they use.
    Power preservation now dominates how the network get used. Peer to Peer networks are a key new requirements. We started with Bluetooth but the connectivity is now evolving to peer to peer WiFi and LTE direct. These new network topology interacts with the legacy star topology and presents interesting network management challenges. Interesting research question is how can the networks be provisioned such that the new class of IOT devices benefit from the same reliability that we have come to expect from the traditionally connected devices like the cellphone.


    Nikhil-JainNikhil Jain serves as vice president of technology for Qualcomm Technologies, Inc., where he is responsible for chips and technology that go into the wearables space.

    Nikhil has directed the strategy, product design and development of the Qualcomm® Toq™ smartwatch. Toq was Rated by Popular Science magazine as one of the “Top 100” gadgets to buy in Dec. 2013, Won 2014 Computex d&i Award in the Peripherals & Accessories category and the Edison Award for innovation. Nikhil has also co-invented technology that helped evolve LTE advance technology that will help increased network capacity by a 1000x. He was also the initiator of the industry-wide CDMA Open Handset Market initiative, which resulted in cost reductions of CDMA handsets from $100 to $40 in developing regions.

    Nikhil joined Qualcomm in 1998 as senior staff engineer and has held roles of increasing responsibility since that time.  In 2006 he was the chief Technology Advisor for Qualcomm India. During this time he helped create the fisherman’s phone in India that helped improve safety for fisherman along the east cost of India and saved lives. Prior to joining Qualcomm, Jain served as a senior member of the technical staff and manager of wireless system engineering for Northern Telecom, where he played a key role in deploying the first CDMA networks in North America.

    Nikhil holds a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Indian Institute of Technology, Madras, a master’s degree in computer information systems and finance from University of Rochester, and a master’s in industrial and systems engineering, and a Ph.D. in Operations Research from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. He is also a graduate of the Stanford Executive Program. Nikhil was awarded 53 patents and has 17 currently pending.

    Fighting cancer using swarms of nanorobots
    Prof. Sylvain Martel
    NanoRobotics Laboratory at Polytechnique Montréal, Campus of the University of Montréal, Canada
    The implementation of medical artificial nanorobots are still far beyond present technological feasibility. But nature has already provided natural nanorobots that have the capability of these envisioned nanorobots of the future. As such, our approach was then to learn how to exploit their capabilities to accomplish specific tasks. More specifically, it will be shown how tens of millions of MC-1 bacteria can be harnessed simultaneously to mimic swarms of such futuristic artificial nanorobots with an equivalent capability level when operating in a computer-controlled artificial environment enabling the exploitation of their magneto-aerotactic migration behavior. Our experimental results conducted in animal models suggest that exploiting the actuation-navigation-sensory capability of these natural nanorobots can lead to more effective targeting and to the first method of non-systemic transports of drug molecules to deeply located tumor regions such as the hypoxic zones to achieve maximum therapeutic outcomes. Besides showing how such a technology can also be used as a powerful diagnostic tool, the talk will continue with some novel complementary methods of navigation and transport of therapeutic agents in the vascular network using clinical MRI scanners being adapted to act as drug delivery platforms, and how the integration of nanoscale components in such robotic navigable agents allowing the exploitation of physical phenomena occurring at the nanoscale can be used to embed functionalities and capabilities such as locally opening the blood-brain barrier. The talk will conclude with some thoughts about future prospects including but not limited to the exploitation of swarm behaviors to increase targeting efficacy further, and genetically modified agents suited for particular tasks and physiological environments.

    Sylvain MartelProf. Sylvain Martel, Fellow of the Canadian Academy of Engineering as well as IEEE Fellow, is Chair of the IEEE Technical Committee on Micro- Nanorobotics and Automation, and Director of the NanoRobotics Laboratory at Polytechnique Montréal, Campus of the University of Montréal, Canada. He received many awards mostly in interdisciplinary research and he is a recipient of a Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in Medical Nanorobotics. He developed several biomedical technologies including platforms for remote surgeries and cardiac mapping systems when at McGill University, and new types of brain implants for decoding neuronal activities in the motor cortex when at MIT. Among other achievements, Dr. Martel’s research group is also credited for the first demonstration of the controlled navigation of an untethered object in the blood vessel of a living animal. Presently, Prof. Martel is leading an interdisciplinary team involved in the development of navigable therapeutic agents and interventional platforms for cancer therapy. This research is based on a new paradigm in drug delivery pioneered by Prof. Martel and being known as direct targeting where therapeutics are navigated in the vascular network towards solid tumors using the most direct physiological routes. Such approach leading to a significant increase of the therapeutic index has been featured in several media around the world such as The Globe and Mail, MIT Technology Review, New Scientist, The Economist, BBC, Newsweek, etc.

    Evolvability in future information networks: taking inspiration from the brain and other biological networks
    Kenji Leibnitz, Dr. rer. nat., Senior Researcher
    Center for Information and Neural Networks (CiNet); National Institute of Information and Communications Technology (NICT)
    Future information networks are expected to become increasingly complex in their operation and management as they will have to cope with a large number of upcoming services and technologies. In order to design networks that are flexible enough to evolve with the changing demands they will be facing, new frameworks such as software defined networking (SDN) and network function virtualization (NFV) have been recently introduced. It is well known that networks in biological systems are also facing fluctuating environments and have evolved to become highly adaptive and robust to failures. In this talk we will take inspiration from examples of biological networks, and in particular focus on the network of the human brain being one of the most complex distributed network structures found in nature. Besides discussing topological characteristics dealing with how the brain is connected, we will also discuss about general network issues such as the complexity of a topology, core-periphery structure, or degeneracy, and how such aspects contribute to the evolvability of a system. Our main goal is to demonstrate that applying concepts found in the structure and operation of biological networks can assist us in designing better communication infrastructures that can be easily reconfigured in an efficient way in terms of performance and energy efficiency.

    Kenji LeibnitzKenji Leibnitz received his doctoral degree in information science from the University of Würzburg, Germany, in 2003, where he was also working as a member of the research staff at the Department of Distributed Systems under Prof. Phuoc Tran-Gia. In May 2004, he joined Osaka University, Japan, as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow. In July 2006, he joined the Graduate School of Information Science and Technology, Osaka University, as a Specially Appointed Associate Professor. Since April 2010, he has been a Senior Researcher with the National Institute of Information and Communications Technology (NICT), Japan, as well as a Guest Associate Professor with Osaka University. Since April 2013, he has been with the Center of Information and Neural Networks (CiNet) of NICT and Osaka University. His research interests include the modeling and performance analysis of communication networks, especially the application of biologically and brain inspired mechanisms to self-organization in future networks.




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