It's 'zon

Amazon gets fresh in Houston with new one-hour grocery delivery service

AmazonFresh has rolled into Houston. Photo courtesy of Amazon

Amazon Prime members know they can get virtually whatever they want, nearly whenever they want it. They might get it even quicker now that AmazonFresh has entered the Houston market. The online behemoth expanded into three new markets this week, and the Bayou City was one them. Minneapolis and Phoenix were the other two.

What that means is Prime members who choose to fork over an addition $14.99 on top of their annual membership can get a host of items delivered to their doors within one-and two-hour windows.

The list of things available includes foodstuffs like meats and produce, as well as the seemingly endless array of day-to-day essentials the company offers, whether it's Post-It notes, books, electronics, home goods, or toys.

Amazon said that customers who have Alexa in their homes have it even easier. They can say something like, "Alexa, order milk from Fresh," and she'll add a choice for milk to their cart based on past purchases or a top result popular with other customers.

Because Alexa is always learning, Amazon assures customers that as they use AmazonFresh, Alexa will remember their favorites, making grocery shopping fast and simple.

New customers can start a 30-day free trial of AmazonFresh and receive $10 off their first order of $35 or more by using promotional code Grocery10 at checkout. Prime members who want to use the service can simply add it to their existing membership for the $14.99 monthly fee.

"We're thrilled to introduce AmazonFresh to Prime members in Houston," said Stephenie Landry, vice president of AmazonFresh and Prime Now, in a press release this week announcing the expansion. "Prime members tell us they want their stuff even faster. We're happy to deliver on that ask."

Looks like Amazon just upped the ante for Houston's already myriad delivery options.

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This article originally ran on CultureMap.

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Building Houston

 
 

This UH engineer is hoping to make his mark on cancer detection. Photo via UH.edu

Early stage cancer is hard to detect, mostly because traditional diagnostic imaging cannot detect tumors smaller than a certain size. One Houston innovator is looking to change that.

Wei-Chuan Shih, professor of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Houston's Cullen College of Engineering, recently published his findings in IEEE Sensors journal. According to a news release from UH, the cells around cancer tumors are small — ~30-150nm in diameter — and complex, and the precise detection of these exosome-carried biomarkers with molecular specificity has been elusive, until now.

"This work demonstrates, for the first time, that the strong synergy of arrayed radiative coupling and substrate undercut can enable high-performance biosensing in the visible light spectrum where high-quality, low-cost silicon detectors are readily available for point-of-care application," says Shih in the release. "The result is a remarkable sensitivity improvement, with a refractive index sensitivity increase from 207 nm/RIU to 578 nm/RIU."

Wei-Chuan Shih is a professor of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Houston's Cullen College of Engineering. Photo via UH.edu

What Shih has done is essentially restored the electric field around nanodisks, providing accessibility to an otherwise buried enhanced electric field. Nanodisks are antibody-functionalized artificial nanostructures which help capture exosomes with molecular specificity.

"We report radiatively coupled arrayed gold nanodisks on invisible substrate (AGNIS) as a label-free (no need for fluorescent labels), cost-effective, and high-performance platform for molecularly specific exosome biosensing. The AGNIS substrate has been fabricated by wafer-scale nanosphere lithography without the need for costly lithography," says Shih in the release.

This process speeds up screening of the surface proteins of exosomes for diagnostics and biomarker discovery. Current exosome profiling — which relies primarily on DNA sequencing technology, fluorescent techniques such as flow cytometry, or enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) — is labor-intensive and costly. Shih's goal is to amplify the signal by developing the label-free technique, lowering the cost and making diagnosis easier and equitable.

"By decorating the gold nanodisks surface with different antibodies (e.g., CD9, CD63, and CD81), label-free exosome profiling has shown increased expression of all three surface proteins in cancer-derived exosomes," said Shih. "The sensitivity for detecting exosomes is within 112-600 (exosomes/μL), which would be sufficient in many clinical applications."

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