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.
Security System Based on the Human Heartbeat
Sandia National Laboratories developed a wearable biometric security system based on the human heartbeat that can stream in real time an identifying signature based on the electrical activity of a person's heart. It recognizes the wearer's individual electrocardiogram signature and transmits a signal, allowing the user access to a specific location. The wearable device could be made in the form of a wristband or chest strap to serve as an alternative to fingerprints and eye scans. The device could be useful for hospitals, airports, and other industries requiring accurate access control for domestic and international threat reduction.
Contact: Michael J. Baker, Sandia National Laboratories
Interactive Sonic Boom Display
NASA's Armstrong Flight Research Center developed the Real-Time Sonic Boom Display for aircraft that enables pilots to control boom placement. The system can be integrated into a cockpit or flight control room to help pilots place loud booms in specific locations away from populated areas or prevent them from occurring. Pilots are also provided with guidance on how to execute a chosen maneuver. The technology can be used on current-generation supersonic aircraft as well as future-generation low-boom aircraft, anticipated to be quiet enough to be flown over land.
Contact: Armstrong Technology Transfer Office
“Artificial Leaf” Produces Clean Gas
Syngas is currently made from a mixture of hydrogen and carbon monoxide and is used to produce a range of commodities such as fuels, pharmaceuticals, plastics, and fertilizers. Researchers at the University of Cambridge (UK) developed an “artificial leaf” that uses only sunlight, carbon dioxide, and water to directly produce syngas in a sustainable manner. Rather than running on fossil fuels, the artificial leaf is powered by sunlight, although it still works efficiently on cloudy and overcast days. And unlike the current industrial processes for producing syngas, the leaf does not release any additional carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.