When it comes to technology-based businesses, that perfect symbiosis between innovation, business, and design and execution can be challenging to reach.

This was a common theme among the sessions and participants at the recent ICE 2008, a Toronto conference for interactive design professionals Keynote speaker Lizbeth Goodman, director of London’s SMARTlab Media Group, spoke about a variety of projects that she had developed, stealth-style, with her teams that used cutting-edge technology to enrich the lives of the differently abled and the disadvantaged.

For the most part, she said, they were conducted without fanfare and through the institution’s own funding. Her methodology was typical, she said, of scientific collaborators — and especially those working on humanitarian-based technology — who have to deal with lack of interest in such research and find wily ways to fund them on the sly.

SMART projects

Examples of her now- and possibly-profitable projects include Interfaces, which allow the mobility-impaired to use eye-movement to indicate what notes and styles should be communicated by a musician with a guitar. “Right now, we’re an institution and we can only borrow this type of technology, so obviously the average person can’t buy it. What we need to do is work on getting them down to a lower price point,” said Goodman.

The SafetyNET project, according to its Web site, “utilizes the power of widespread mobile communications in whatever form they take from culture to culture (including mobile phones, wireless networks, cybercaf