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Worcester Polytechnic Institute to develop smartphone application for patients with advanced diabetes, foot ulcers

BY Allison Cerra

WORCESTER, Mass. — An interdisciplinary research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute is slated to develop a smartphone application that will help patients with advanced diabetes and foot ulcers.

WPI announced it received a $1.2 million award from the National Science Foundation to create the app, which will be wirelessly integrated with a personal glucose meter and scale and would track and archive blood-sugar levels and weight, as well as use the phone’s camera to capture and analyze images of foot ulcers, which are potentially dangerous complications that affect people with advanced, uncontrolled diabetes, WPI said.

The four-year project will be organized through WPI’s Healthcare Delivery Institute in collaboration with diabetes and wound care specialists at the University of Massachusetts Medical School.

"This is an ambitious project that we hope will create a useful tool for people who are dealing with advanced diabetes," said Diane Strong, one of the project’s leaders, who is a professor in WPI’s School of Business. "We appreciate the National Science Foundation’s support for our approach to combine technology development and clinical expertise into a unified team to address this challenge."


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Rite Aid to unveil 3-D holographic displays

BY Alaric DeArment

CHATSWORTH, Calif. — Rite Aid is planning to roll out 3-D holographic display kiosks in its stores next year, according to the kiosks’ manufacturer.

In a letter to shareholders, Provision Interactive Technologies president and CEO Curt Thornton wrote that it would place its 3-D Reward Centers in Rite Aid stores, starting with 200 stores and, according to the agreement between the two companies, eventually installing the kiosks in up to 4,800 stores. Rite Aid currently has 4,679 stores.

The kiosks include a display unit that shows 3-D images "’floating in space’ without the need for special glasses," which the company said appear so real that people standing within view feel compelled to reach out and touch them. Images are visible within a 60-degree range and can be projected more than four feet. The company’s "Air Touch" technology also allows for interactivity.

Previously, Provision had sold its displays on a per-unit basis, but its agreement with Rite Aid, as well as a similar agreement with the Circle K convenience store chain, allows it to collect advertising revenue.

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Survey: Mobile technology leads to better in-store experience

BY Marianne Wilson

SCHAUMBURG, Ill. — Three-out-of-four surveyed retail associates and managers feel they provide a better in-store customer experience when equipped with the latest mobile technologies, according to Motorola Solutions’ "Annual Holiday Shopping Survey."

Shoppers echoed a similar sentiment, with 67% reporting greater satisfaction with stores where associates utilized the latest technologies to assist in the shopping experience. And 43% of shoppers reported that the mobile point of sale improved their shopping experience.

Retailers still are losing significant revenue due to inefficient payment approaches, out-of-stock occurrences and lack of selection, according to the survey. Thirty-three percent of shopping trips ended with shoppers leaving before satisfying their intent to purchase, costing an average of $125 per trip. Of those lost opportunities, more than 73% did not complete their purchases with the original retailer.

“Retailers continue to deploy technology to improve the shopping experience, but they need to pay closer attention to the growing expectations of the omni-channel shopper,” said Michelle Crissey, customer solutions lead at Motorola Solutions. “Rather than just give them technology and call it a positive experience, customers prefer that retailers use the technology in a meaningful way to actually give them a better experience, both in-store and for fulfillment of online and mobile orders.”

Key survey findings include:

  • One-third (33%) of store visits ended with an average of $125 unspent due to missed opportunities to purchase driven by inefficient payment approaches, deal-habituated behavior, out-of-stocks and limited store associate assistance;

  • The vast majority of shoppers reported that self-help technologies improved their shopping experience: 83% cited using a price checker while self-checkout payment lanes (65%) and information kiosks (59%) also frequently were mentioned;

  • More than 4-in-10 (43%) shoppers would likely use a store application on their smartphones that creates a map from a shopping list to guide them through the store on the most efficient route to complete their shopping; and

  • Sixty-eight percent of lost sales could have been recaptured if a retail associate was able to order the item and have it delivered to the shopper’s home. Almost 55% of shoppers would have made their purchases if an associate could find another location that had the item in stock and told them how to get there.

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