UpFront

2006 Product of the Year Winners

The 12th annual NASA Tech Briefs Readers’ Choice Product of the Year Awards were presented April 23rd at a special reception and dinner in New York City. See the June issue for photos and highlights of the awards presentation. Here are the top three winners, chosen by you, the readers of NTB:

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NASA Spinoff Keeps Drivers “Ice Free”

In the late 1990s, NASA Ames Research Center in California invented an anti-icing fluid that kept ice from building up on airplane wings. The fluid, when applied to a dry surface, prevented the ice from even forming a surface bond; if applied before ice formed, it served as a deicer. The formula contains propylene glycol, which has a very low freezing point, and a thickener that helps it adhere to the surface. Ice gathers on top of the surface, and can be wiped off with little effort.

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NASA Technology Provides Secure Networks for First Responders

In 2003, engineers at NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, OH, sent a miniature Cisco router into low Earth orbit on a satellite, proving that Internet Protocols can be used to communicate with satellites. “We wanted to put the Internet in space because it will make it far easier to design, build, test, and later operate new satellite systems,” said Phil Paulsen, project manager in Glenn’s Space Communications Office.

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NASA Spinoff Brings Nanotechnology to Market

NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, MD, licensed its patented technique for manufacturing high-quality, single-walled carbon nanotubes (CNTs) to Idaho Space Materials (ISM) in Boise. Carbon nanotubes based on this process are being used by researchers and companies working on the next generation of composite polymers, metals, and ceramics that will impact almost every facet of life.

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NASA Uses Common CPUs for Radiation-Resistant Computers

EAFTC computers in a space-ready flight chassis. (NASA/Honeywell)Most space missions use radiation-hardened (rad-hard) computer chips to avoid glitches caused by space radiation. These chips contain extra transistors that take more energy to switch on and off, but they are also expensive, slow, and power-hungry. Using the same inexpensive Pentium and PowerPC chips found in consumer PCs would make spacecraft computers faster, but they wouldn’t be rad-hard.

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Waterless Washing Machine Wins Design Award

The Airwash system cleans clothes without water or detergents. (Electrolux)Gabriel Tan and Wendy Chua, industrial design students at the National University of Singapore, recently won the Electrolux Design Lab Award sponsored by the Electrolux Group. The annual award invites participants to design household appliances for the future.

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NASA Technology Lets You Cook Dinner From the Office

By combining remote-control technology with the capability to cook and refrigerate food, the Connect Io Intelligent Oven lets you have dinner ready when you get home.David Mansbery used to be president of a natural gas supply company, and NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Cleveland was one of his biggest customers. With a busy schedule, Mansbery rarely had time to cook meals for his family. His idea was to create an oven that would let him cook dinner from the road. He pitched the idea of a hot-and-cold, remotely controlled oven to NASA, which supplied him with its Embedded Web Technology software.

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