Virtual Reality Lab, Biodegradable Coffee Pods Make Headlines

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Research on making streets safer for children was the focus of a Toronto Star article on Aug. 28. The story focused on the work of Prof. Barbara Morrongiello and PhD candidate Michael Corbett, who have designed a virtual reality lab to teach children how to cross streets safely. In Morrongiello’s Virtual Reality Child Pedestrian Studies lab, each participant wears a virtual reality mask that allows him or her to learn how to cross streets with cars approaching, all in safe and secure environment.

The lab is equipped to alter the speed and frequency of the virtual vehicles, allowing the researchers to monitor how participants react in different conditions. Morrongiello and Corbett are hoping to eventually design a system that schools can use to train young children.

Morrongiello was also interviewed for another Toronto Star story on when children can walk to school by themselves. In it, she said the biggest factor for determining if a child can walk by him or herself should be a child’s skills and temperament, not just age. Judging the speed of vehicles can be difficult for a young child, she said. Morrongiello is a Canada Research Chair in Child and Youth Injury Prevention.

Research from the University of Guelph’s Bioproducts Discovery and Development Centre (BDDC) was featured in the Globe and Mail on Aug. 25. The story looked at single-serve coffee pods, which have become increasingly popular in coffee makers such as Keurig and Tassimo. The pods are not biodegradable, leading to many pods winding up in landfills. Researchers at the BDDC worked with a Toronto company, Coffee Club, to design coffee pods that can go directly into a green compost bin. Each single serve coffee and tea pod will be made of plant-based resin and be entirely compostable, without needing to be sorted.