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Tech Talk: Virtual Retail and Blood Cell Innovation | media technology

With a major research university in our backyard, a strong military presence, and innovative businesses throughout the metro area, there’s often a plethora of exciting science, medical, and technology news happening in southern Arizona. Here’s a breakdown of the most interesting recent developments.

Virtual reality in retail

The John and Doris Norton School of Family and Consumer Sciences at the University of Arizona received $5 million from Terry and Tina Lundgren to support business and retail students. Part of this contribution will be used to design a laboratory for retail learning technology. The lab will be equipped with the latest virtual reality technologies, such as eye tracking and heat detection software. It will also be equipped with cameras and display equipment to simulate retail scenarios for students. “People often overlook the importance of retail, until retail is disrupted,” said Laura Scaramella, director of UA John and Doris Norton School of Family and Consumer Sciences, in a communicated. “Think about what happened during the COVID-19 pandemic; what other industry has transformed so quickly, in no time, to meet consumer needs? The pandemic has hit the retail industry like a ton of bricks, leading most businesses to consider online retail spaces. The industry needed to pivot quickly, and the most innovative business leaders emerged victorious during the pandemic. Scaramella said in an AU statement that lab spaces shouldn’t be just for STEM students; retail students should use technology to innovate in their field. The lab will also be used by retail and marketing researchers to study consumer behaviors at the intersection of technology and perception. This lab will be crucial for AU to increase scientific innovation for the School of Consumer Science. One aspect of the retail experience that is expected to increase since the pandemic is the contactless POS system. This type of technology allows customers to walk out of a store and be billed automatically instead of hitting automatic checkouts or going through a normal checkout process. “For me, the question is, will consumers embrace something like this? How do you educate consumers on how the contactless POS works and help consumers overcome their hesitation to walk out of a store without having physically paid for something or checked out? Lance Erickson, consumer psychologist and associate professor of practice at the Norton School of Family and Consumer Sciences, said in a statement.

Kim creates copycat cells

Minkyu Kim, an assistant professor of biomedical engineering and materials science and engineering at UofA, recently received a $600,000 award from the National Science Foundation to mimic red blood cells in a lab. Kim wants to mimic red blood cells to improve doctors’ abilities to create more targeted treatments and drugs tailored to specific patients. Working with red blood cells for drug delivery was inspired by Kim’s love for the structure of red blood cells. Red blood cells are perfectly suited to human blood vessels, making them a good option for passing the body’s natural filtration system. Conventional drugs must pass through this filtration system, but red blood cell delivery methods could deliver drugs more efficiently.

Space flight upgrade

Paragon Space Development Corporation’s Humidity Control Sub-Assembly (HCS) has been tested and used successfully on the Boeing CST-100 Starliner Orbital Flight Test-2. The Starliner docked with the International Space Station before returning to Earth on May 25. It’s been 60 years since standardized humidity control technology was updated. “Our team is thrilled that the HCS system has successfully completed its first flight to the ISS and will support human transportation back and forth for years to come,” said Paragon President and CEO Grant Anderson. , in a press release. The HCS system provides the life support needed by astronauts and Paragon’s system will be demonstrated on future spaceflight missions.


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