This publishing of Tech Weekly RoundUp focuses on companies around of the Greater Pittsburgh Area who are taking large steps towards innovation technology including Virtual Reality Headsets, Ticket Sale Increases, Breastfeeding Accessories and Smart Manufacturing Systems.

INDYCAR Adds Neuro Kinetics’ I-PAS™ To Concussion Evaluation Protocol

Drivers competing in this year’s Indianapolis 500 and INDYCAR’s Mazda Road to Indy program have already completed baseline tests on the I-PAS, giving INDYCAR doctors a ready comparison for observing any deterioration in each driver’s neural functional biomarkers.

The highly portable I-PAS—cleared by the FDA in November 2017 —resembles a virtual reality headset in which clinical eye tracking is integrated with a digital display so practitioners can run a comprehensive battery of OVRT tests almost anywhere! The cleared test battery includes fourteen OVRT (Oculomotor, Vestibular and Reaction Time) tests that measure a patient’s neural-biomarkers related to dizziness and/or balance disorders. Many of these biomarkers are associated with variety of conditions including: concussions, migraines, ear infections, and or BPPV (benign paroxysmal positional vertigo).

Howison Schroeder, President and CEO of NKI, notes, “Neuro Kinetics is proud that INDYCAR has chosen to add NKI’s technology and science to their concussion protocol.

NKI is the industry-leader in clinical eye-tracking technology, possesses a portfolio of FDA-cleared medical devices and OVRT tests, and holds 22 related patents. Their ongoing commitment to science and engineering has led to a series of recent studies and publications (noted below) that demonstrate how NKI’s technology and OVRT-C (C stands for Cognitive) tests can correctly categorize acute concussions and monitor symptoms over time.

 

ShowClix Surpasses $1 Billion in Ticket Sales, Looks to the Future 

Industry-leading event ticketing and technology partner, ShowClix, a brand of Patron Technology, announced today that it has officially processed over $1 billion in total ticket sales. 

“Reaching $1 billion in total sales processed through our platform is an incredible milestone, and I speak on behalf of our entire organization when I say we’re only getting started,” said Brian Arnone, President and COO of ShowClix and CRO of Patron Technology. “As our team and platform continue to expand, you’re only going to be hearing more about ShowClix and Patron Technology.” 

The Pittsburgh-based company was first launched in 2007 as an event registration database. Over the following decade, ShowClix grew into a major player in the event technology industry, thanks to a client-focused team and a constantly evolving platform. ShowClix now handles ticket sales, marketing, and on-site operations for conventions, museums, attractions, and festivals around the world. The company also became part of Patron Technology in 2017, which served to expedite this already impressive growth. 

“Becoming a flagship brand of Patron Technology has cemented our role as industry leaders,” Arnone said. “Now that we’re part of this larger family, we can’t wait to see where the future will take us.” 

 

Bringing MomTech to Life: MEMS Professor Katherine Hornbostel Designs a Gadget to Help Moms Breastfeed 

Breast milk has many known health benefits, but breastfeeding is not always an option for moms, and many turn to pumping as an alternative. Katherine Hornbostel, assistant professor of mechanical engineering and materials science at the University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering, wanted to make this often cumbersome process easier. She decided to tackle the antiquated design of modern breast pumps and create a clever attachment that would make pumping more like nursing. 

“Whether it is difficulty latching, giving birth to multiples, returning to work, or a host of other common issues, many women struggle with nursing and start pumping to produce breast milk,” explained Hornbostel. “I wanted to create something to ease frustration with the pumping process.”

Pump2Baby is a breast pump accessory that connects to any Medela breast pump. The user begins hands-free pumping with a pumping bra, and once some milk has accumulated in the bottle, the baby can suck it out through tubing to a nipple.  A special valve in the bottom of each bottle prevents milk  from leaking until the baby starts sucking. 

“Many women, myself included, get burned out on pumping milk around the clock. I think the hardest part for me was that I could not take care of my twin infants when I was constantly attached to that pump,” said Hornbostel.

In addition to its time saving features, Pump2Baby also returns another benefit of breastfeeding- the mother’s bonding experience with her child.   

“There are human factors to the production of milk,” explains Hornbostel. “Some women struggle to produce milk because the process of pumping is too mechanical. Holding your child and connecting with them often helps encourage production.”  

 

Penn State New Kensington leads smart manufacturing project in partnership with MIT and Arconic  

Rapid advances in technology have not only affected the field of information technology or computer science, but have also affected almost every business and industry, including manufacturing. 

“We are in the process of finding what it is that business and industry need for Industry 4.0, and more importantly, what skill sets students need for success over the course of their entire careers in a world that will keep changing 

The New Kensington-led team’s project is titled, “Factory 4.0 Educational Toolkit.” “The project is to build some educational toolkits, whatever form they become, but the key component is that it has a piece of machinery as well,” explained Cuiffi.

The proposed simulator will include machinery and software aspects that imitate a functioning smart manufacturing system. Building upon a machine already being developed by MIT and consulting with Arconic for industry expertise, Cuiffi will introduce the toolkit in an educational setting with EMET and business students in an integrated spring 2019 class, but the project has potential to go beyond a classroom. 

While the simulator and curriculum will be important for future students and professionals, current workers in manufacturing settings will also benefit by gaining awareness of how the industry is changing and how they can build upon their skillsets. 

“The more that we’re able to bring it home to people in their own workplaces, the better,” added Snider.  

The CESMII grant allows the New Kensington campus and its EMET program to be a leader in smart manufacturing education, however, Snider plans to spread the Industry 4.0 discussion into other realms to benefit rustbelt communities like New Kensington. 

“I think this grant with CESMII is in some ways a game changer for us,” said Snider. “It allows us to really take the lead in some areas and become the campus and region for workforce development with Industry 4.0.  

Snider hopes to have New Kensington become a replicable model for reinventing small towns like New Kensington affected by industrial downturn