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.
This column presents technologies that have applications in commercial areas, possibly creating the products of tomorrow. If you are interested in licensing the technologies described here, use the contact information provided. To learn about more available technologies, visit the NASA Technology Transfer Portal at http://technology.nasa.gov.
Guidance and Control for an Autonomous Soaring UAV
Detecting and soaring in thermals enables UAVs to optimize flight performance, increase speed, extend flight duration and range, and reduce energy consumption. Although piloted gliders and low-powered aircraft have systems to detect thermals, a guidance and control system from Armstrong Flight Research Center is the first ever to be used by UAVs. Potential applications include remote sensing, surveillance, atmospheric research, firefighting, law enforcement, and border patrol.
Contact: Armstrong Innovative Partnerships Office
Hypoxia Detection and Warning System
An innovative oxygen warning system detects and prevents oxygen deprivation, or hypoxia. If oxygen partial pressure dips below a safe, predefined level, the sensor’s alarm and vibration are capable of arousing an individual who may have become impaired by symptoms of hypoxia such as drowsiness, slowed reaction times, and blackouts. The partial pressure warning system can be incorporated into virtually any commercial oxygen mask for use by pilots, firefighters, scuba divers, and mountain climbers.
Contact: Johnson Space Center Technology Transfer and Commercialization Office
Enhanced Auditory Alert System
Auditory warning systems for human interfaces depend primarily upon signal loudness. By making an alert signal substantially louder than the measured background noise, one can insure that an alert signal will be detectable. However, if alert signal amplitude is too loud, the alert signal may produce a “startle effect” that hinders performance in some high stress situations. This Ames Research Center invention provides an alternative approach that uses spatial modulation to improve the detectability of an alert signal without substantially increasing the amplitude level of the alert signal. Uses include aviation, vehicles, ships, power plants, gaming, and loud industrial settings.