September 2009

A new information age for the eco-savvy consumer

In this blog, The New York Times explores eco-angst, the feeling consumers have when they learn a distasteful fact about the environmental, health or social impact of a product. Several sources of such information are cited, including the Good Guide, an NCIIA-funded Sustainable Vision project that has data on 75,000 consumer products.

Bubble Imaging Technology (BIT)

California Institute of Technology, 1999 - $18,250

Bubble Imaging Technology (BIT) is a new, patent-pending technology used to create alphanumeric digits and/or graphics in a fluid medium. Based on the technology created by inventor Frederick Romberg, this E-Team designed prototypes and developed marketing opportunities for BIT. Two prototypes, a large commercial display board and a small desktop clock, were built.

The team included five members with skills in electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, computer science, marketing, and finance. The team developed a business plan, prepared a market analysis, and completed the patenting process.

MedScan3D: The Development of an Affordable Three-Dimensional Ultrasonic Scanner for Medical Applications

Clarkson University, 1999 - $19,720

This team is developing an ultrasonic scanning system that scans and creates an image of the exterior of human body parts in three dimensions. The initial uses for the device will be medical applications such as the development of orthodic devices. Using new ultrasonic transducer technology, the team is funded to assemble, develop, and test a scanning helmet or barrel that will provide a CAD compatible output of the exterior surface of the scanned person or object.

The team plans to patent and license the technology. The technology should be of comparable quality to laser-based scanners, easy-to-use, portable, and less expensive than existing products.

The faculty advisor has assembled a group of advisors from the medical industry, electrical and computer engineering, mechanical and aeronautical engineering, as well as an expert in business and entrepreneurship. The students working on the project are recruited from a design course that he instructs.

Shape Memory Activated High Pressure Optical Cell

Drexel, University, 1998 - $17,500

This E-Team developed an improved high pressure research device for biotechnology research markers. The project focused on the development of an improved, simpler, more cost-effective and user friendly device capable of competing with current equipment.

Paraplegic Swing

University of Colorado Boulder, 1998 - $10,500

This team is designing a universally accessible, hand-powered swing that does not require a child to use his or her legs to pump. The swing was originally designed for a child who had limited functionality of his legs. He loved the design and was able to learn to use it quickly. The team plans to modify the swing to make it inexpensive, safer, and installable on any standard swing set.

The team will first market the swing to people with limited use of their legs, and then expand the market to playgrounds as a piece of standard equipment. The team plans to develop advanced prototypes, pursue IP, and develop a business and marketing plan.

The E-Team consists of two sophomore mechanical engineering students and one sophomore aerospace engineering student.

LNR Design Team (Frogger)

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, 1998 - $15,345

This team is developing a three-dimensional vertical maze game using air power. The game is conceptually based on a popular Parker Brothers video arcade game called Frogger. The game is joystick operated, and propels a ping-pong ball upward through a maze of gates and tubes using air. The game play is controlled via embedded control through a microcontroller. The microcontroller interprets the movements of the joystick and positions the servo motors that move the path gates in the game, controls the score counter and game timer, monitors photogates that track the positioning of the ball, and provides visual and audio feedback to the player.

This game is targeted for use at arcades and carnivals, selling at a lower cost than typical arcade games. An initial patent search showed no similar designs, and the team is developing a patent application. The team members are civil engineering, electrical engineering, and industrial management engineering majors.

University of Massachusetts, 1998 - $19,600

This E-Team created an internet business providing tutorial information in a customized format, utilizing a streaming data approach.

An E-Team to Design a Very Low Power Network

University of Pittsburgh, 1998 - $11,500

This E-Team developed a prototype for a system that establishes a network of wireless devices within a small area using very low power and RF radio transmission. The transmission distances may range from a few inches to a few meters.

Communication over short distances with very low power creates a wide array of new applications of RF technology. The applications for this technology are diverse, ranging from wireless patient monitoring devices to food safety monitoring for the meat industry. The technology originated in a funded E-Team course EE1185, Microprocessor Systems.

The E-Team plans to develop a prototype and perform a market study on the device. Members of the E-Team are computer and electrical engineering students.

Information Systems for Docket Tracking in Educational Institutions III

Saint John's University, 1998 - $3,599

This grant was a second and final renewal of a project to develop a secondary school admission and placement system as well as a graduate school admissions and application review tracking system. The E-Team constructed both systems using previous funding (see grants Information Systems for Docket Tracking in Educational Institutions and Information Systems for Docket Tracking in Educational Institutions II) but the products required additional work to be market-ready. The database products were beta tested successfully at both secondary private schools and a limited number of graduate school admissions offices.

This grant supported improving the import/export software to enable the systems to work more effectively, develop online tutorials to guide users of each system, and implement a security system. The E-Team includes three math majors and a management major. All are computer science minors.

Wire Electrical Discharge Machining of Cylindrical Components

North Carolina State University at Raleigh, 1998 - $20,000

This grant supported the development, prototyping, patenting and exploration of commercialization options for an innovative rotating fixture for use in EDM. The fixture would allow the machining of previously undoable shapes.