Guard-Ex: the new 420 breathalyzer

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Airing Oct. 18, 2018, one day after the legalization of cannabis, Dragons’ Den will feature Guard-Ex, a tech startup led and created by UW student Dastiger Khan.

“Unlike traditional methods that use saliva and breath chemicals to detect drug usage, [our product] looks at physiological indicators that change based off of how tolerant or intolerant you are to a drug,” Khan said. “Typically, when you’re impaired, your motor sensors, physiological indicators, and cognitive sensors are impaired [as well].”

Guard-Ex is based off of the Drug Recognition Expert (DRE) matrix, which describes how different categories of drugs affect various physiological indicators like a change in one’s pupils.

Guard-Ex’s main product, the GX-420, “is a real-time and non-invasive universal impairment detection device,” as described on their website. It focuses on detecting consumption of cannabis, cocaine, and opiates and looks similar to a VR set. Khan mentioned that they’ve kept the “exterior of the VR set [and] changed in the interior.”

“We wanted to make it compact and simple. From your forehead to your nose, for example, you can check six to seven different physiological indicators,” Khan said.

Since Guard-Ex’s creation in the beginning of 2017, Khan has received a generous amount of funding from various business incubators. They’ve received $30k from AC Jumpstart, “an innovative seed funding and mentorship program” for businesses in Southern Ontario, as described on their website; and $3k from LaunchPad, a Wilfrid Laurier University incubator that’s located in the Communitech Data Hub in Waterloo. Additionally, they have also received physical space to work in from LaunchPad.

As CEO of Guard-Ex, Khan has a variety of short-term and long-term goals and plans for his company. He hopes that they’ll be able to have a complete prototype, or ideally a “durable and lasting MVP (minimum viable product) that works very well.”

“Oct. 18 is their intended deadline for patent filing, updating the new drawings and designs for the product, and for ensuring that the technical aspects are completed,” Khan said.

After Oct. 18, Khan’s hoping to get a Canadian certification approval, which tests if the device is safe or not before it can be sold in retail. “We’d also like to get approval from the Attorney General of Canada so that our product can be used on roads,” Khan commented. “Aside from law enforcements, we also want to focus on the private sector. [Specifically, we can] get into insurance, construction, and transportation companies [and] sell one or two devices to collect data.”

“Five or six years down the road,” Khan said, “we want to include machine learning into our product. [Right now], all the information is collected manually and the police analyzes it.” However, often there’s a lot of bias involved in analyzing such data.

As of now, Khan and his team are working with the local Waterloo police department, which is led by Chief Bryan Larkin. They hope to be able to expand to all of Canada someday and eventually target markets in the U.S.A. and in the Middle East.

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