Montréal is a creative city. You might even call it a city of innovation! From our thriving AI startup scene to our game-changing gaming industry to our booming life-sciences sector, Montréal offers a culture of renewal and originality. Here are 11 inventions we can proudly claim as our own.
The world’s most functional hoverboard has come from Montréal. Perhaps you’ve seen the viral video of Alexandru Duru soaring over a lake just outside of the city? Duru’s flying machine — officially called the Omni Hoverboard — landed him on the cover of Popular Science.
Its full name is Image MAXimum. And its appreciation: universal! This supersized format of movie theatre screen was created in 1967 in Montréal by Canadian experimental filmmakers Graeme Ferguson, Roman Kroitor, Robert Kerr and William C. Shaw. IMAX was able to record and project images in a much larger format and much higher resolution than conventional film systems at the time.
The search engine
Alan Emtage was a McGill system administrator in 1988 who was tasked with trolling the nascent internet for free software. So he wrote an open-source program to do the work for him. And so was born Archie, the first Internet search engine. Until the mid-90s (and the birth of Google) it attracted half the web traffic in Canada.
Reverse engineering malware
Assembly code analysis is one of the critical processes for detecting software plagiarism and software patent infringements. Montréal-based researchers created an integrated assembly clone search engine is called Kam1n0 — pronounced “Camino” — which acts as a scalable data mining system for a range of cyber security applications.
The largest public bike sharing program in the United States may be Citi Bike in New York City, but it uses transportation technology developed here in Montréal! Citi Bike is based on Montréal’s bicycle sharing system, Bixi. The system has also been installed in numerous other American locations, as well as in other international cities such as London and Melbourne.
The intraoperative laser probe
Brain cancer patients may live longer thanks to a cancer-detection method developed by researchers at Montréal’s McGill University. The collaborative team created a powerful intraoperative probe for detecting cancer cells. The hand-held probe enables surgeons to accurately detect virtually all invasive brain cancer cells in real time during surgery.
Custom-fit wireless earphones
Revols were the world’s first custom-fit wireless earphones. Guided by the Montréal company’s free mobile app, users simply put in the earphones and let the gel-filled tips take the natural shape of the ear. The product molds in 60 seconds to deliver unparalleled fit, comfort and sound.
The snow blower
OF COURSE the snow blower was invented here. We have Arthur Sicard to thanks for making our legendary winters a breeze! He invented the snowblower in 1925 after witnessing a grain thresher at work in a wheat field and wondering if a similar device could be used to clear snow. Attached to the front of a truck, the Sicard snow blower featured a scooper and a fan capable of blowing snow 27 m away. It changed the way the city removed snow.
Inflight entertainment wouldn’t be what it is today without Montréal-based software company DTI, which invented the software used by the majority of the world’s airlines to share content on their screens. DTI owns over 90% of the globe’s inflight games market and has exclusive licensing agreements with the most popular entertainment brands. You’re welcome!
It was McGill chemistry student William Chalmers who invented the resilient, flexible and transparent game-changer now known as Plexiglass. Chalmers devised a new method for producing methyl methacrylate using acetone and hydrogen cyanide. Today, Plexiglas is used in everything from hockey rinks to aquariums, contact lenses and motorcycle helmets.
The bus tracker
We have Jean-Yves Blais and Jean-Marc Rousseau to thank for impeccable punctuality. The duo founded GIRO in 1984, some of the first software to analyze public transport companies and effectively track bus schedules. One of their first clients was Montréal’s public transit system; today their Hastus and GeoRoute software products optimize public transport and mail delivery services in 28 countries.
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