This column presents technologies that have applications in commercial areas, possibly creating the products of tomorrow. To learn more about each technology, see the contact information provided for that innovation.
Energy Monitor Finds Electrical Failures Before They Happen
A system developed at MIT monitors the behavior of all electric devices within a building, ship, or factory, determining which ones are in use at any given time and whether any show signs of imminent failure. The sensor is attached to the outside of an electrical wire at a single point without cutting or splicing wires. From that point, it can sense the flow of current in the adjacent wire and detect the distinctive “signatures” of each motor, pump, or piece of equipment in the circuit by analyzing unique fluctuations in the voltage and current when a device switches on or off. The sensor readings can be monitored on a graphic display dashboard. The system can also be used to monitor energy usage, identify possible efficiency improvements, and determine when and where devices are in use or sitting idle.
Contact: Karl-Lydie Jean-Baptiste, MIT News
Nanocomposite Heart Valve for High-Risk Patients
Researchers at the University of British Columbia created a nanocomposite biomaterial heart valve to reduce or eliminate complications related to heart transplants. The valve is an example of a transcatheter heart valve that can be inserted into a patient through small incisions rather than opening a patient’s chest. Existing transcatheter heart valves are made of animal tissues — most often the pericardium membrane from a cow’s heart — and have significant implantation risks. The new valve solves that problem by using naturally derived nanocomposites including gels, vinyl, and cellulose. The combination of the new material with the noninvasive nature of transcatheter heart valves makes the new design very promising for use with high-risk patients.
Contact: Patty Wellborn, Assistant Communications Coordinator
Detecting Unauthorized Device Access
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center developed a method to collect suspicious data and analyze it without extensive costs. The system operates on top of existing information technology infrastructure with minimal additional support requirements. It utilizes a combination of components into a cohesive system for use in detecting unusual or unauthorized activity that appears to be new. The system continually ingests multiple time-series streams of data related to individual authorized users — data from workstations, personal mobile devices, and facilities. These streams are analyzed to establish self-consistency based upon a defined rule set identifying discrepancies in the passive tracking of behavior patterns, suggesting unauthorized activity.