Interview with André Dubé, Chief Executive Officer of CogniLore, a business member of LTRC’s technology incubator
In February 2014, the Language Technologies Research Centre (LTRC) announced its new strategic direction to merge language technologies with business intelligence. CogniLore, a business that has been housed in LTRC’s technology incubator for over two years, was already moving in this direction, like a few other small and medium-sized enterprises, with the support of Développement économique – CLD Gatineau (Economic Development – Gatineau Local Development Centre). Below is a profile of this innovative Gatineau enterprise and its cutting-edge technology.
In 2000, André Dubé started a business that develops and distributes professional ebook software: CogniLore. At that time, Mr. Dubé’s team had already been working in this field since 1992. “We work with large-volume professional content, actual reference works. These are often documents that contain many thousands of pages and are not read in their entirety, but rather consulted to find information quickly so that critical decisions can be made in the course of professional services.”
Before developing its new professional ebook technology, CogniLore created websites for processing and presenting the same type of content. The company had developed powerful search engines and data access control systems, and had integrated them into sites where reference content had been uploaded.
One day, one of our Toronto clients asked us to digitize one of his titles for him. It was quite a challenge to reduce the content of 3 000 pages and convert it into an ebook. Our team assessed existing technologies, only to discover that none were really effective for large-volume reference works. Their search engines were very slow and made consulting the information difficult. We therefore set out to apply our Web technologies to the development of a form of professional ebook. During the development phase, we confirmed that no such technology existed on the world market for this type of content. There was therefore a real need for our software, so we continued our technological development and launched our very latest version of the professional ebook in January 2014. During the process, we also discovered major differences in the delivery of electronic reference works. We therefore began working with our business partners in that area as well, through a collaborative process of innovation that resulted in improved options for meeting the needs of professional users.
The electronic reference books produced by CogniLore are used by professionals in such fields as law, medicine and building codes, in both French and English, and therefore meet the needs of Canadian professionals.
CogniLore has been housed at the LRTC for over two years and finds the Gatineau location very attractive. In addition, the firm is able to benefit from contact with researchers and other businesses that are part of LRTC’s technology incubator. Although its current main market is Canada, the business is starting to expand to other parts of the world. Discussions are under way, for example, with English publishers.
Our software processes natural languages. We have created a content indexing system for quick searches. We also use “tags” for contextual searches, a method that makes all the difference for professionals. Canadian pharmacists are now using our technology as the result of a project we carried out for the Canadian Pharmacists Association. The names of medications, whether generic or brand name, are all linked and are generated instantaneously in the search results, depending on the options selected. One can also navigate from one result to another. In addition, it’s a multi-platform system, so it can be used with a variety of tablets and computers. Lastly, a key feature that our clients really like is the fact that the system is interactive and is updated on a continual basis. In fact, you can make annotations, add bookmarks and update the content of new editions of the reference works without losing your annotations or your user history, because they are synchronized from one platform to another.
In short, this technology allows professionals to be efficient, to have quick access to the most up-to-date information in their field of practice and to refer to the information easily and quickly. By using current data that is well indexed and easy to access, professionals are better able to make the most informed decisions in their field of practice.
This mobile and flexible technology, developed as part of the LRTC’s technology incubator, is an example of the dynamic nature of innovation in the Gatineau-Ottawa region.