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Nielsen, University of Florida create a virtual grocery store

Margie Manning

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The University of Florida student team that worked with Nielsen.

A partnership between Nielsen and the University of Florida led to development of a grocery store in a simulated 3D environment.

The project allows a Nielsen client using virtual reality headsets such as Oculus Rift and HTC Vibe to set up virtual grocery store layouts and to gauge a customer’s engagement and path through the virtual store and its products.

It could lead to significant cost-savings and revenue potential for Nielsen, a market research and data analytics firm with a major office in Oldsmar, and it is the winner for the “Industry/Academic Partnership of the Year,” one of several honors in Tampa Bay Tech’s 2018 awards program.

Tampa Bay Tech, Florida’s largest technology council, will name all the winners at a Nov. 9 ceremony.

In the Nielsen-UF partnership, a student team made up of five undergraduates — a mix of electrical, computer and industrial engineers — got a chance to solve a real-world problem over the course of two semesters in the 2017-2018 academic year. A faculty coach worked with the students and Nielsen provided two mentors — one who attended their meetings and presentations, and one who gave input and feedback on their design and implementation.

The University of Florida student team demonstrating the virtual grocery store created in partnership with Nielsen.

The results were phenomenal, according to a statement from Nielsen.

“They delivered a customizable system with configurable user interface, meaningful data analysis dashboards, and a realistic virtual user experience,” the statement said. “This type of product offered significant cost-savings and revenue potential to Nielsen, since studies run in a virtual environment are faster, more scalable, and provide highly granular data.”

Nielsen said it plans to  continue this partnership with a new business problem for the current academic year.

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