When academics and industry co-operate on research, everyone wins. Scholars get funding, data and insight into real-world issues, while businesses can benefit from new ideas and access to intellectual property.
Bell University Labs (www.bul.utoronto.ca) is a collaborative research program that connects Bell Canada employees with researchers at Quebec and Ontario universities. The goal is innovation, but not just in technology.
In U of T’s psychology department, Professor Ian Spence is studying how different personalities respond to computers. The resulting technology profile inventory could help deliver more personalized services online, he says, by identifying different personality types and creating Web pages adapted to individual user preferences.
The division of biomedical communications is researching the power of images (illustrations, photos and video) to communicate information over the Web. The study examines two Web sites related to breast cancer, one aimed at surgeons and the other at consumers. Results will help identify the most effective types of imagery for communicating to specific audiences.
In the Faculty of Social Work, Professor Elsa Marziali has developed a training manual and Web site to help seniors access the Internet. Feedback from users at the Baycrest Centre for Geriatric Care in Toronto was used to modify her Web design and training strategy, yielding new guidelines for senior-friendly interfaces.