News

NASA-Funded GPS Monitoring Software Now in Commercial Use

At NASA, the Global Positioning System (GPS) is a vital resource for scientific research aimed at understanding and protecting Earth. NASA employs the band of GPS satellites for mapping Earth's ionosphere and developing earthquake-prediction tools. But traditional GPS still can't communicate beyond latitudes of 75 degrees, meaning that most of Greenland and Antarctica cannot receive GPS signals. NASA partnered with NAVSYS Corp. of Colorado Springs, CO, to enhance the technology for better surveying of urban areas prone to signal blockages. The result of this collaboration led to a new aerial mapping and targeting system called GI-Eye, a software platform that integrates GPS with inertial and digital camera data to collect high-resolution imagery for precise visual navigation and geolocation of target coordinates. The GI-Eye technology has been integrated into FLIR Systems' Star SAFIRE III airborne electro-optic thermal imaging system. Currently, there are about 800 of these units on more than 35 types of aircraft. The long-distance, 360-degree, day or night scoping abilities of the System have made it popular for aerial surveillance associated with search and rescue, reconnaissance, law enforcement, border patrol, news gathering, land-use planning, and environmental monitoring. Click here for the full story.

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Event Alerts

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Soft-Bodied Robots

Engineers at the Biomimetic Devices Laboratory (BDL) at Tufts University (Medford, MA) are developing biologically-based technologies that use soft materials to incorporate them into a new type of highly flexible robot. These machines could have applications in biomedical diagnosis and surgery, emergency rescue, exploration, and for monitoring or repairing space vehicles. Devices based on these technologies may improve the versatility and performance of conventional hard-bodied robots. Prototypes look and move much like caterpillars. The BDL robots have a skin made of a silicone rubber, and wriggle forward via springs. As a current is passed through a spring, it contracts, bending the robot. For more information, click here.

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Current Attractions

Defense Tech Briefs (DTB) provides engineers with a one-stop source for the latest advances and tech transfer opportunities from Defense Department R&D programs. Commercially promising inventions resulting from this work are reported in DTB magazine, published bi-monthly and mailed with NASA Tech Briefs. Here are some of the technologies featured in the April issue: Application of CFD to a Slender-Bodied, Finned Projectile In an application of computational fluid dynamics (CFD), flow fields about a slender-bodied finned projectile and the resulting aerodynamic forces and moments on the projectile were computed. The computations are exemplary of those needed for predicting aerodynamic performances in order to optimize designs of advanced projectiles, missiles, and rockets. (Page 14) Continuous-Wave Atom Laser This apparatus is intended to serve as a prototype of sources of coherent matter waves for future atom-interferometric field and motion sensors. The major part of the apparatus is a magnetic guide comprising two hollow, water-cooled 3.175-mm-diameter wires in a vacuum chamber. It is planned to incorporate a potential well into the guide near the output end for the purpose of forming a continuous-wave Bose-Einstein condensate in the well. (Page 26) Read these and previously published tech briefs here.

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Technologies of the Week

A fabric (non reflective) is available that can emit its own light. It is created with threads of every type and nature and can emit light in different colors. View this technology here. A fabric is available having increased cut resistance. It is made from a fiber-forming polymer and a hard filler having a Mohs Hardness Value greater than about 3. The filler is included in an amount of about 0.05% to about 20% by weight. View this technology here. 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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File Sharing

Computer scientists at Carnegie Mellon (Pittsburgh, PA) have developed a method of speeding up the transfer of large data files over the Internet by configuring peer-to-peer (P2P) file-sharing services to share not only identical files, but also similar files. By identifying relevant chunks of files similar to a desired file, the Similarity-Enhanced Transfer (SET) increases the number of potential sources for downloads. Boosting the number of sources usually translates into faster P2P transfers. Once the download of a data file is initiated, the source file is divided into smaller, unique chunks. Different chunks are downloaded simultaneously from numerous sources that have the identical file, and then the chunks are reassembled into a single file. While downloading is underway, SET continues to search for similar files. For more information, click here.

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Current Attractions

The ScanWorks(R) hand-held 3D laser scanner from Perceptron (Plymouth, MI) was named Photonics Tech Briefs Product of the Month for April. The instrument features a scanning rate of up to 458,000 points per second and can maintain a dense point resolution of approximately 14 microns. The device projects the sensor's field of view onto the target scanning area to visualize the best scanning strategy, and may be used on dark or highly reflective surfaces. The scanning software includes a MS Windows XP-style interface, intelligent sensor calibration, real-time point shading, and automatic exposure control. For more information, see page 12a of the April issue of PTB or click here.

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