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Smart Suits

In the near future, you may get up in the morning, put on a "smart" T-shirt, and automatically have your health monitored. When it's dirty, the shirt gets washed or dry-cleaned. Researchers from the University of South Australia have developed smart garments with tiny embedded electronics that can monitor your heart or respiratory function wirelessly. The garments, when placed on electronic hangers, enable monitored data to be downloaded in a heartbeat to a computer in your wardrobe, and then they are recharged and ready for wearing. Professor Bruce Thomas, researcher and director of UniSAís Wearable Computer Laboratory, explains that for continuous monitoring, "you can take off one garment and put on another smart garment so, instead of having just one heart monitor, you can have a wardrobe of them." The wardrobe has a touchscreen on the outside and conductive metal bands spanning the hanging rail inside, with wires connecting it to a computer in the base of the wardrobe. When electronic hangers, each with their own ID and metal connection, are placed on the rail, it detects the hangers and smart garments incorporating the conductive material and integrated electronics. Through this connection, the computer identifies that hanger 123 has coat 45 on it, which has stored heart monitoring data that needs to be downloaded, and the hanger needs to be recharged. Garments with communication technology only and a wireless connection enable users to access heart monitoring through a Bluetooth or Zigbee network, eliminating the need for expensive heart monitoring equipment to be placed in each garment. Future garments could be used for monitoring at home, for outpatient care, and for people with dementia, who can be monitored with minimal intervention. Find out more here.

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Current Attractions

Each month, NTB highlights tech briefs related to a particular area of technology in a special section called Technology Focus. Here are some of the technologies featured in the July issue focus on Sensors. "Smart" Sensor Module Stennis Space Center has developed an assembly that contains a sensor, signal conditioning circuitry, a sensor readout analog-to-digital converter, data storage circuitry, and a microprocessor that runs software. The module monitors the integrity and health of engineering systems. They have potential uses in spacecraft, aircraft, bridges, buildings, power plants, and land vehicles. (Page 22) Portable Apparatus for Electrochemical Sensing of Ethylene Researchers at Kennedy Space Center have developed a small, lightweight apparatus based on electrochemical sensing for monitoring low concentrations of ethylene in air. The thick-film-type sensor can be used in the agriculture industry for monitoring and controlling ethylene concentrations in order to optimize the growth, storage, and ripening of plant products. (Page 24) Read previously published tech briefs on Sensors and other technologies here.

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Techs of the Week

A solid-state oxygen microsensor measures the potential difference (EMF) generated by two electrodes deposited on a solid oxygen-ion-conducting electrolyte and located in a known and preferably constant temperature gradient in the same ambient atmosphere. The microsensor is used for combustion systems to maintain and improve combustion efficiency levels and exhaust gas cleanliness. A rugged oxygen microsensor is freestanding and isolated from the silicon substrate in combination with a counter electrode and a heater in a bowtie configuration. The sensor combines an integral heater made from platinum that is deposited on a silicon wafer as a thin film. The sensor and heater are supported on the silicon wafer by a thin layer of silicon nitride. The Technologies of the Week describe inventions offered for license through the yet2.com marketplace. Search over $2.5 billion of licensable technologies at www.yet2.com.

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Create & Win

The 2007 Create the Future Design Contest, presented by SolidWorks Corp. and NASA Tech Briefs, is now open. Youíre invited to submit your innovative design ideas in the following categories: - Machinery, Equipment, and Component Technology - Consumer Products - Medical - Safety and Security - Transportation - Sustainable Technologies The sixth annual Create the Future design contest recognizes outstanding innovations in product design, awarding a Grand Prize of $20,000, and six First Prizes (one from each category) of Hewlett-Packard engineering workstations. Entrants may elect to have their entry posted on the contest Web site, and the 10 most-visited entries will each be awarded $250. All qualified entrants will receive a Create the Future Design Contest T-shirt. The contest is co-sponsored by COMSOL Inc., Hewlett-Packard Co., and the Hong Kong Polytechnic University. So, exercise your imagination, demonstrate your design and engineering skills, and enter the contest today. All entries must be received by October 15, 2007. Click here for guidelines, tips on winning, and the official entry form.

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Product of the Month

The N4917A optical receiver stress test set from Agilent Technologies (Santa Clara, CA) has been named PTB's Product of the Month for July. It provides repeatable conformance and characterization test results, and allows users to accurately characterize and verify standard conformance of receiver optical subassemblies and transceiver modules operating up to 12.5 Gb/s. The test set consists of the N4917A calibration and automation software; the 81490A reference transmitter for 1,310-nm and 1,550-nm single-mode wavelengths; the 81495A reference receiver; accessory kits for 10 Gb Ethernet Fibre Channel testing; the J-BERT N4903A high-performance serial BERT; and the 86100C Infiniium DCA-J. For more information, see page 13a of the July issue of PTB, or visit here.

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Current Attractions

Technology for manufacturing diffraction gratings for spectrometry has not changed significantly in the past 40 years. But, according to Dr. Christoph M. Greiner of LightSmyth Technologies, that has changed thanks to deep-ultraviolet (DUV) reduction photolithography. In a feature article in the July issue of Photonics Tech Briefs, Dr. Greiner explains that for gratings, the DUV production optical stepper allows the design of more than 1,011 pixels on an individual basis. The ability to monolithically integrate multiple gratings on a single substrate using the DUV process makes it possible to integrate new functions into diffraction gratings. Read the feature article on page IIa of the July issue of PTB. Go here for more info on LightSmyth's monolithic grating arrays.

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Technology Business Needs and Briefs

High Stress Compatible Fiberglass Fabric for Sewn Applications The Johns Manville Company invites proposals for improved performance concepts in high-stress applications of non-woven fiberglass. Advanced Pattern Recognition Technologies These sensors, algorithms, neural network systems, optics and camera technologies are available for use in a wide variety of applications. Wherever the human eye can be used to recognize and categorize images, there are applications for this pattern recognition technology. The Technology Business Needs and Briefs portray technology acquisition profiles, and licensing or selling opportunities intermediated by NextTechs. NextTechs Technologies, LLC is a Global Technology Investment Bank engaged in technology offers and needs intermediation in over 41 industries and 141 research disciplines. Search NextTechs' Technology Portfolio here.

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