QTemp: a weather station you can wear
Startup got started with Banting & Best's Impact Centre
Living in Canada means living with unpredictable weather. Neda Ghazi and Alireza Monam, co-founders of Comfable, have made it their goal to help people lead healthier and more comfortable lives with QTemp, a wearable weather station.
The compact smart device provides users with the temperature and UV index in their exact location in real time. Based on customizable settings, the device also tracks “safe sun time” and tells users how long they can stay outdoors before getting sunburnt or developing skin damage.
“We wanted to create a gadget that was easy to use but still had a positive impact on people’s lives,” said Ghazi, the chief operating officer. “Comfable has given us the opportunity to apply our PhD and postdoctoral research along with our passion for urban climate, sustainability and energy efficiency into a product that turns this aim into reality.”
QTemp works with a companion app that displays all the information collected by the battery-free gadget onto an Android or iOS device. The information provided is customizable, allowing users to select their individual skin type, altering the safe period of time you can spend in the sun.
According to Cancer Care Ontario, one in seven Ontarians will develop skin cancer, mostly because of overexposure to the sun. Ghazi and Monam (pictured at right) hope this product will increase awareness of sun overexposure and decrease rates of skin damage.
QTemp can provide data communities as well as individuals. The app provides a platform to generate a map based on data shared by users. The map includes precise temperatures inside and outside public spaces like stadiums, theaters or a local festivals. The bigger the community, the more detailed and more precise the map.
“Being an entrepreneur means trying your hand at a bit of everything,” Ghazi said when asked about the transition from academic research to consumer production. “It’s a fast-paced learning environment and always calls for a different type of skill from IT, product design to business development and marketing.”
The company has been leveraging the resources of the University of Toronto to help accelerate QTemp’s development. Both Ghazi and Monam participated in the Techno2015 hands-on summer workshop organized by the Impact Centre, one of U of T’s nine campus-linked accelerators. The company has also hired student interns through the Impact Centre’s IMC390 course, which is dedicated to internships in new ventures.
“QTemp is a wonderful innovation and a great example of a practical use of technology,” said Karen Sievewright, managing director of U of T's Banting & Best Centre for Innovation & Entrepreneurship (BBCIE). “U of T’s Impact Centre has stayed true to its name, fostering Comfable’s entrepreneurial spirit and helping them create a product with a potentially huge retail impact.”
Comfable recently launched a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign for QTemp. By pledging $19 towards the project on Kickstarter, supporters will receive their very own QTemp just in time for summer, 2016. Comfable is also releasing a software development kit (SDK) so other developers can integrate QTemp into their work.