Articles

Products of Tomorrow: November 2014

The technologies NASA develops don’t just blast off into space. They also improve our lives here on Earth. Life-saving search-and-rescue tools, implantable medical devices, advances in commercial aircraft safety, increased accuracy in weather forecasting, and the miniature cameras in our cellphones are just some of the examples of NASA-developed technology used in products today.

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Evaluating Electrically Insulating Epoxies

Epoxies are versatile polymer systems that are “go-to materials” for electrical, electronic, and microelectronic systems, especially in applications where outstanding electrical insulation properties are needed. Their wide usage is due to their excellent adhesion to a wide variety of substrates, superb chemical and heat resistance, and long-term durability. They are serviceable for bonding, sealing, coating, and encapsulating/potting applications.

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Cabin Pressure Monitors Notify Pilots to Save Lives

Designed for astronauts and pilots, this device could save skydivers and mountain climbers. Typical cruising altitudes for business and commercial aircraft are up to 50,000 feet or more. Occupants could not survive in this environment without pressure inside the aircraft being controlled to maintain oxygen concentrations consistent with those at lower altitudes. A cabin pressure warning system typically lets pilots and crews know when pressure becomes dangerously low, but these can malfunction or be accidentally switched off. The result can be insidious and deadly, as those on the plane become slowly incapacitated by hypoxia — oxygen deprivation — without being aware of it.

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2014 Create the Future Design: Grand Prize Winner

Robotic Building Construction By Contour Crafting Behrokh Khoshnevis University of Southern California Los Angeles, CA Contour Crafting (CC) is a computerized construction method that 3D prints large-scale structures directly from architectural CAD models. Walls are built up by forming their outer surfaces via extrusion of a paste-like material such as concrete, and the use of a robotic trowel to provide a smooth, contoured surface. CC is a very flexible technique, capable of constructing aesthetically pleasing “organic” curvilinear shapes as easily as “boxy” rectilinear shapes; as such, it has attracted strong interest from leading architects.

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2014 Create the Future Design: Aerospace & Defense Category Winner

The Polariton Interferometer — A Novel Inertial Navigation System Frederick Moxley Louisiana State University Baton Rouge, LA Chances are, you have been routed incorrectly by your Global Positioning System (GPS), but many of us would be lost without GPS navigation. GPS technology relies on a combination of signals from a complex satellite and ground station network. This is problematic in aerospace and defense, as GPS signal jamming is prevalent. Other technologies, such as Inertial Navigational Systems (INS), can operate independently from GPS satellites, but rely on GPS satellites to correct measurement errors. These errors are often due to limitations of an interferometer device within the system, known as a gyroscope.

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2014 Create the Future Design: Machinery/Automation/Robotics Category Winner

Automatic Eye Finder & Tracking System Rikki Razdan, Alan Kielar, Pat Stearns, and Melissa White ISCAN Inc. Woburn, MA The intrinsic speed and precision of the human ocular-motor system makes the eye an ideal pointing device for human-machine interface. Eye tracking has not yet been exploited as a robust human interface with computers due to many technical problems, such as viewing a human face under real-world conditions, robustly identifying the eyes over a diverse population range, and the complexity of the real-time image processing tasks involved. Conventional high-accuracy eye tracking systems require the presence of an operator, and/or require the user to use a chin rest or wear an identifying marker so the eye tracking system can find the user’s eyes.

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2014 Create the Future Design: Automotive & Transportation Category Winner

Continuously Variable Displacement (CVD) Engine Steve Arnold Engine Systems Innovations, Inc. Rancho Palos Verdes, CA Passenger car engines are sized to produce very high horsepower to suit the consumer’s demand for drivability and performance. Unfortunately, engines run most efficiently at high load conditions and very inefficiently at the low loads where they spend most of their time. This results in poor fuel economy and high CO2 emissions.

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