October 24, 2013
NASA Seeks Earthly Uses For Out-Of-This-World Technologies
[ Watch the Video: Out-Of-This-World Space Tech Coming Back Down To Earth ]
Enid Burns for redOrbit.com - Your Universe OnlineOne of the important outcomes of space exploration, beyond the study of what's out there among the stars, is the development of technologies and materials for use here on Earth. NASA is initiating a program that encourages the development of space technologies for more down-to-Earth uses. To create this pilot program NASA has joined with product development startup Marblar.
Marblar is acting as a clearinghouse for the program which relies on crowd sourcing to generate ideas for products that use technologies and materials developed for the space program. Marblar is a crowdsourcing product development company that allows anyone to pitch product ideas based on patented science and technologies, and collect royalties from the developed products.
"For over fifty years, NASA has transferred its cutting-edge aerospace technologies to the private sector, helping create new commercial products, improve existing products, and boost the competitiveness of the US economy," the aerospace agency said in a statement.
Initially NASA will release 14 technologies to Marblar. Over the next four weeks, 26 additional patents will be posted on the website for the public to propose ideas for. "Anyone can submit ideas and contribute to other submitted ideas over the next year. Commercial partners will study the ideas for potential new products and services, with contributors to successful ideas sharing in their ownership," NASA said.
NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center Technology Transfer office will oversee the pilot program. "We are excited about partnering with Marblar to reach new audiences. By using crowdsourcing as a way to generate new assessments of NASA technologies, we hope to work with the global community to identify transformative commercial products," said Terry Taylor, manager of the MSFC Technology Transfer office, in a NASA statement.
In the past the enterprise community has gained access to technologies developed for NASA. One example is image stabilization technology that was developed to study solar flares and that is now used to provide better images for recognition software in video for applications such as license plate recognition, facial recognition, and clarifying security footage for anti-terrorism efforts.
"Crowdsourcing has allowed NASA to tap into more than the usual suspects to get ideas and solutions that addresses an assortment of NASA needs," said Jenn Gustetic, NASA's Prizes and Challenges program executive. "Reaching out to innovators in a variety of fields through online crowdsourcing may provide a 21st century way for NASA to expand the reach of its technology portfolio for commercialization and use right here on Earth."
Memory foam is another technology originally developed for NASA that has found its way into the home. In the past similar programs have been called "spinoff" technologies. The lengthy list of products influenced by NASA technologies includes artificial limbs, baby formula, cell-phone cameras, cordless tools, ear thermometers, MRI and CAT scans, golf clubs, shoe insoles and ski boats, among other products, Business Insider reports.
While Marblar will handle pitches on new products, the NASA Technology Transfer Portal (http://technology.nasa.gov/) serves as a reference for patents, technologies and materials that are developed by the space exploration organization.