December 1, 2015 / 1:11 PM / 4 years ago

Canadian start-up backed by BlackBerry founder unveils wireless tracking technology

Mike Lazaridis, president and co-chief executive officer of Research in Motion, speaks at the RIM Blackberry developers conference in San Francisco, California September 27, 2010. REUTERS/Robert Galbraith

TORONTO (Reuters) - A Canadian start-up backed by one of BlackBerry’s founders unveiled a technology on Tuesday for tracking wireless signals that it says can be used for detecting intruders, managing crowds or finding victims of natural disasters.

Cognitive Systems Corp said its Amera technology senses motion in physical space by detecting small changes in the wireless signals that invisibly connect smartphones and other devices to broader networks.

“What we’re building is essentially a camera for RF (radio frequency) signals and trying to understand what those signals mean,” said Cognitive co-founder Taj Manku.

The closely held company is largely backed by Mike Lazaridis’ Quantum Valley Investments fund, which aims to help bring breakthrough technologies to market.

Lazaridis is best known for co-founding the company that became BlackBerry Ltd (BB.TO) and developing its namesake smartphone. He has since left the company to focus on his own projects.

Cognitive said it has teamed up with one unnamed partner to develop a home security and monitoring product for mid-2016 launch. The 50-employee company is also weighing targeting a second market segment by the end of next year.

Engineers at the start-up designed their own chip for the product, which features four wireless receivers and flexible processors that can switch quickly between different functions.

The company, based in BlackBerry’s hometown of Waterloo, Ontario, said it has secured three core patents in the United States and Europe, with around 20 more pending.

Reporting by Alastair Sharp; Editing by Cynthia Osterman

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