By Jean-Philippe Tremblay
The Saguenay-based company Optania, founded in 2009, offers artificial intelligence solutions specializing in education and mental health according to a principle unique in the country.
“The company has grown a lot in recent years, we are now at 22 employees. We are also the only company of its kind in Canada and we are very proud of it,” says the president and founder of Optania, Louis-Raphael Tremblay.
The company is indeed booming, while the applications it has developed are currently implemented in the province’s 72 school departments and could affect nearly one million students in Quebec. It is also expanding in the college environment with eight and very soon nine CEGEPs using its ALI application and its multiple features.
The Optania team wants to ease the workload of teachers by reducing their work overload and support students by offering them easy-to-use tools with continuous support. It is important to mention that the support offered is in addition to the teacher’s services, so the goal is not to replace them.
AI in the region
For Louis-Raphael Tremblay, setting up his business in the regions was important.
“We came so much from left field, being an artificial intelligence company in Saguenay. It’s as if it had no connection, we’re not really the region where the development of advanced technologies is the most developed, it’s precisely one of our great prides to have created this here”, affirms the president of Optania.
“For me, living here, it was never a question of whether it was a challenge to do it in a remote area. It was the quality of life that prevailed and the rest came later. »
AI at the service of education
The company relies on the marketing of 3 products, namely an aid for elementary and secondary school teachers, support for students in higher education and a record-keeping solution for mental health professionals.
“Our artificial intelligence is designed to understand what has been said, then human intelligence takes over. It is pre-modeling of mini-conversations that was created at our place with two psychologists, a social worker, a remedial teacher and a psychoeducator who prepare the conversation diagrams. “, explains Louis-Raphael Tremblay.
The advantage of artificial intelligence in such a context is manifested by the openness to conversation among some students who would not have opened up normally. Chatting with a robot that can reassure, advise or redirect to competent resources can play a crucial role in supporting a young person. It can also make it possible to democratize the search for help among the latter.
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