Features

Medical Category Winner

Pediatric Vision Screener – Mark V Kristina Irsch Wilmer Ophthalmological Institute, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine Baltimore, MD Amblyopia, commonly known as “lazy eye,” is the leading cause of vision loss in childhood, caused by misalignment of the eyes (strabismus) or defocus. If treated early in life, especially during infancy, there is an excellent response to therapy. A reliable and effective screening technique that can easily be administered by lay personnel is needed. The Pediatric Vision Screener (PVS) can simultaneously detect proper alignment as well as proper focus of infants’ eyes. The latter is determined by measuring the size of the double- pass blur image produced from a point source of light. Eye alignment is assessed by means of binocular retinal birefringence scanning (RBS), in which polarized near-infrared light is directed in an annular scan on the retina, whose nerve fibers are birefringent, and the polarization-related changes in light retro-reflected from the ocular fundus are analyzed. Due to the radial arrangement of those fibers, a characteristic frequency appears when the scan is exactly centered on the fovea, indicating central fixation. Thus, by analyzing the generated frequencies in the obtained RBS signal binocularly, the precision of eye alignment can be measured. To bypass the deleterious effects of corneal birefringence in RBS, the screener incorporates a spinning half-wave plate (HWP) in combination with a fixed double-pass retarder. Both wave plates modulate the RBS signal such that a theoretical improvement of about 3.86 times in RBS signal strength is achieved for a representative data set of human eyes, using computer modeling. Combined with a technique for focus detection in a single handheld device, this computer-modeloptimized PVS design promises to provide effective and appropriate screening instrumentation to automatically identify infants at risk for amblyopia. For more information, contact the inventor at kirsch1@jhmi.edu. Honorable Mentions A Camera for Nuclear Radiation Inside a Magnetic Resonance System Dick Meier Gamma Medica – Ideas Oslo, Norway A new camera for spectroscopic imaging of nuclear radiation (gamma radiation) operates in very strong magnetic fields of more than 10 Tesla. The camera can be used inside a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) system for the simultaneous acquisition of nuclear radiation and magnetic resonance images. The camera consists of identical radiation imaging modules and a multi-pinhole collimator. The system can be inserted into MRI systems and allows one to accurately co-register nuclear and radio images in space and time. The camera is based on the semiconductor material cadmium zinc telluride (CZT), which is almost insensitive to magnetic fields. Tomographic images can be acquired without moving the camera or the patient. Pedicle Screw Compressor Distractor Charles Griswold Trinity Orthopedics San Diego, CA This surgical instrument compresses or distracts the distance between two pedicle screws in order to get proper placement along the connecting rod, and thereby achieve ideal vertebra spacing. A small male collet at the end of the instrument snaps into a mating female feature on a connecting rod. A Nitinol wire is actuated through the internal diameter of the collet, preventing it from disengaging. This firmly affixes the instrument to the rod axially, while preventing rotation through use of keying features. With one end of the connecting rod held in place at the far-side pedicle screw, the near-side pedicle screw is adjusted forward or backward along the rod using a hook on the end of the instrument. The hook has a rounded end to push (compress) on a pedicle screw delivery tube. Alternatively, the hook can pull (distract) on the same tube.

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Machinery & Equipment Category Winner

Small-Area Thin-Film Heat Flux Sensor Mahmoud Assaad The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. Akron, OH This sensor is being used in tires of all types and sizes, and has also been applied to engineering products such as hoses, belts, and conveyor belts. The product can be used in components for process control, modeling validation, determination of cooling requirements, and general calorimetry in rocketry, aerospace, and automotive environments. The sensor allows transient, bidirectional heat flux measurements on curved and flexing surfaces over areas that are smaller than those allowed by other sensors. This makes it perfect for measuring the convective heat transfer coefficient on various parts of a rolling tire. Since temperature is one of the primary damage indicators of a tire under service conditions, accurate prediction of the temperature in a tire is vital. The sensor provides the engineers, designers, and material scientists with a means of verifying that the temperature will not reach a level where rubber reversion can occur. This state can only be predicted with accurate heat transfer analysis of the tire. With this information, tire designers and material scientists will be better able to design a tire structure that will not have critical zones of high temperature anywhere within the tire cross-section. This new sensor design consists of a Wheatstone resistor bridge fabricated onto a 1/4-mm (0.010") thick polyester film, with half the bridge on each side of the film. The temperaturesensitive element is sputter-deposited platinum, patterned and applied using a photolithography technique, with line width and line spacing approximately 60 microns. With no heat flux applied to the sensor, all of the resistor bridge elements are at the same ambient temperature, and have the same initial resistance. With the application of heat flux, the resistance of the two elements of the bridge on the hot side of the polyester film changes due to platinum’s temperature coefficient of resistance. The resistor elements of the bridge on the cold side of the polyester film also change resistance, but by a lesser amount. The change of the resistances unbalances the bridge, and a precise measure of the heat flux can be determined from the output based on the fractional change of the resistances and the excitation voltage. With the application of “negative” heat flux (that is, a reversed heat flow), the output of the bridge will change sign. Thus, the sensor determines the direction of heat flux as well as its magnitude. For more information, contact the inventor at mahmoud.assaad@goodyear.com. Honorable Mentions Automated 3-Axis Instant Printed Circuit Board Prototyping Machine Ryan Anderson Sandia National Laboratories Albuquerque, NM Today, printed circuit board (PCB) production involves cutting the board, printing the masking pattern, etching, rinsing, applying flux, drilling holes, and soldering components onto the board. This new method for creating a PCB involves cutting the board, drawing traces, drilling holes, and soldering the components. This machine has three axes of motion, each controlled by a small stepper motor. The three axes move a plate located on the front of the machine. Attached to this plate is a magnetic tool changer that allows the user to change between a silver-loaded pen and a drill. When the user is ready to create a PCB, a blank piece of C10 board is secured in the slot on the steel base of the machine, the silver loaded pen is attached to the tool changer, and the CNC is used to run the automated tool path. LumenFlow 360-Degree View Imaging System Harold Brunt LumenFlow Corp. Middleville, MI This imaging system is a photonic device capable of illuminating the interior surface of any near-cylindrical object and then focusing the reflected light on the detector of a CCD camera (or any device configured to accept an image from a camera lens). The configurable system has the ability to resolve features as small as 20 microns along the interior of a cylindrical object within a range of diameters. Vertical walls, under-cut diameters, deep bores, or gaps beneath inserted components can be viewed and inspected. The system is inserted within the cylindrical surface, the image is captured, and areas of interest are identified and then analyzed. The device can be used in machine vision applications where automating bore inspection is not currently taking place.

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Consumer Products Category Winner

Universal Proprietary Water Purifying/ Conditioning Multimedia Jim Jablonsky J&M Associates Hatfield, PA This inexpensive and easily operated filter system removes heavy metals, arsenic, mercury, bad tastes, and offensive odors. It consists of a composite mixture of metal oxide, carbon, and zeolite multimedia that has been processed into a nano material suitable for incorporation into inexpensive filter paper. The filter paper has a pore size between 1 and 5 microns. The filter element is inserted in the drinking cap of a bottle of water. The water can be poured through the center of a filter, and the impurities are chemically bound to the nano multimedia material, which produces a pleasant water taste of consistent nature. The materials also remove bacteria and reduce viral contamination. Flavor tapes can be added after the filter, enhancing the bottled water experience. This will help attract kids to a healthy alternative to soda. The multimedia materials have a great affinity for heavy metals, arsenic, mercury, and odor and taste removal and pass current “TCLP” tests to produce a stabilized matrix suitable for local disposal without the fear of recontamination from this concentrated filter source. These tests have also shown great resistance to fouling and need no prior pH adjustment, which makes this process suitable for bottled water as well as for point-of-use tap water purification. The product has great potential in the third-world market, since it can purify many different water streams from almost all sources. The filter elements can be manufactured on a very large scale. A disposable system for purifying home tap water would open new untapped markets for the first bottled water manufacturer to embrace this product. For more information, contact the inventor at jmassoc@erols.com. Honorable Mentions Adaptive Kayaking Fixtures for the Highly Disabled Mark Theobald High Seas Productions Camarillo, CA This series of adaptive kayak paddling aids is designed for people with incomplete quadriplegia, who are often able to use certain muscles in their arms, wrists, and hands. The device holds the paddle up for the kayaker and keeps the paddle blades oriented in the vertical position. The paddle is duct-taped to the fixture, and paddlers need only be able to push or pull to successfully use them. Those lacking gripping ability are assisted with gloves. The device can be attached to an unmodified rental kayak in one minute. An adjustable, forward-mounted boom can be tipped forward during boarding or exiting. Moveable Braille Timepiece David Chavez Costa Mesa, CA Current Braille timepieces only help the user orient the watch hands in relation to the watch face, but can lead to an inaccurate time assessment. Digital devices use sound to communicate the time, thus inhibiting the user from checking their watch unnoticed. Haptica is a moveable Braille timepiece that provides a quick and accurate time reading by displaying a real-time readout in Braille using a military-time format. The wearer scans along the Braille channel with their finger to check the time.

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2008 Create the Future Design Contest Grand Winner

This year’s seventh annual NASA Tech Briefs “Create the Future Design Contest,” presented by Dassault Systèmes SolidWorks Corp., recognized innovation in product design in six categories: Consumer Products, Machinery & Equipment, Medical, Safety & Security, Sustainable Technologies, and Transportation. On the following pages, you’ll meet the Grand Winner, as well as the winners and honorable mentions in all six categories. Congratulations to this year’s winners, and thanks to all of the engineers who submitted their creative design ideas. To view the contest entries online, visit www.createthefuturecontest.com.

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Life-Saving CPR Device Wins Create The Future Design Contest

LifeBelt® CPR, a new device that makes it easy for anyone to perform high-quality CPR compressions in the event of cardiac arrest, has won the $20,000 grand prize in the 2008 Create the Future Design Contest sponsored by Tech Briefs Media Group and Dassault Systèmes SolidWorks Corp. Lifebelt was among a record 1,091 entries in the seventh annual contest.

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Using Virtualization to Secure Mobile Device Designs

Mobile devices are increasingly coming under attack from malicious applications. As more complex operating systems (OS), such as Symbian, Windows Mobile, and Linux are used in handsets, providing security updates and identifying new vulnerabilities has become more complicated. Addition ally, frequent patching and rewriting of code to keep one step ahead of hackers undermines the utility and longevity of legacy software. What developers really need is an environment that is inherently safe from attack and provides the appropriate level of security for all code running in the target device. Secure, segregated areas for critical code must be combined with secure communications in order to provide protection for mobile devices.

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StackableUSB™ Adapting PC Technology to the Embedded Market

Embedded systems and desktop PC’s have had a love hate relationship over the years. The PC has been the source of significant technological advances that have enabled embedded systems to evolve to their current levels of sophistication, using the faster processors and highly-integrated functionality of the CPU cores available today. Additionally, the PC world has also spun off I/O buses, both serial and parallel, that have enabled embedded systems designers to expand and configure their system I/O. On the other hand, the embedded industry has often been wary to adopt PC technology due to the short life cycle some PC technologies experience.

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