PUDDLE HOPS: Virtual Ice Explorer | State IT innovation | Robots in hospitality

Exploring icy environs from your own home

COLUMBUS, OH—Researchers from OSU’s Byrd Polar and Climate Research Center have developed a way for you to explore glacial and ice-covered sites around the world from the comfort of your own home. The Virtual Ice Explorer (VIE) encourages informal learning about icy environments by immersing visitors in “choose your own adventure” tours that capture the landscape and research done in those places.

The 2021 State IT Innovation of the Year awards

FLYOVER COUNTRY—Several flyover states won in the 2021 State IT Innovation of the Year awards: The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services for its business intelligence data platform; The Illinois Department of Innovation and Technology for its COVID-19 contact tracing platform; the Missouri Department of Revenue for a chatbot that gives customers 24/7 self-service; and the Michigan Department of Technology, Management and Budget for its mobile end-point detection device.

Robots in the hospitality market

PITTSBURGH, PA—Aethon, a company that creates autonomous robots for hospital settings, is entering the hospitality market. It has launched a new robot, called the T4H, which can deliver items such as towels, soap, and good directly to guests in hotel rooms. In August, the company plans to launch a smartphone app to allow guests to choose the items they want without having to call the front desk.