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.

Variable Visibility Glasses for Instrument Flight Training

NASA's Langley Research Center has developed and tested special glasses to be worn by a pilot during instrument flight training. Using novel sensors to determine head position, the glasses restrict the view out of the aircraft windscreen, but allow the pilot to clearly see the entire instrument panel, providing a much more realistic low-visibility instrument flying experience. The technology combines electroactively controlled liquid crystal lenses with a means for determining the pilot's head position. When the pilot's head is positioned to look outside the front or side windscreens, the lenses restrict light transmission. When the pilot's head is lowered to view the instrument panel or other cockpit displays, the lenses allow light transmission so that the view of the instruments is unimpeded. The lenses are mounted in conventional eyeglass frames.

Contact: Langley Research Center
Phone: 757-864-1178
E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

For more info click here 

Bacteria-Powered Battery on a Single Sheet of Paper

Binghamton University, State University of New York, has created a bacteria-powered battery on a single sheet of paper that can power disposable electronics. The manufacturing technique reduces fabrication time and cost, and the design could revolutionize the use of bio-batteries as a power source in remote, dangerous, and resource-limited areas. On one half of a piece of chromatography paper, a ribbon of silver nitrate is placed underneath a thin layer of wax to create a cathode. A reservoir made of a conductive polymer on the other half of the paper acts as the anode. Once properly folded and a few drops of bacteria-filled liquid are added, the microbes’ cellular respiration powers the battery. The battery generates enough power to run biosensors that monitor glucose levels in diabetes patients, detect pathogens in a body, or perform other lifesaving functions.

Contact: Binghamton University, State University of New York
Phone: 607-777-2000
E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

For more info click here 

Paper-Based Skin Patch Monitors Dehydration

Researchers at Purdue University have developed a low-cost skin patch that changes color to indicate different levels of hydration, representing a potential new medical technology. Such an innovation might be used by marathon runners, military personnel, and others. The palm-size patch consists of filter paper that is laser-machined to create a radial array of strips that is laminated with a water-impermeable film to form microchannels. The channels are loaded with a water-activated dye at one end. As sweat secretion increases, the strips are activated sequentially, changing from blue to red, and providing easily identifiable levels of moisture loss. The patch was tested at a sweating rate of 90 microliters per hour over a square centimeter of skin, which corresponds to normal human sweat rates.

Contact: Babak Ziaie, Purdue University
Phone: 765-494-0725
E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

For more info click here 


NASA Tech Briefs Magazine

This article first appeared in the March, 2017 issue of NASA Tech Briefs Magazine.

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