Mass spectrometers are high-tech devices used to separate and analyze chemical substances at the molecular level, useful for a number of industries but especially defense and homeland security. The Griffin E-Team from Purdue developed an improved mass spectrometer that is smaller, cheaper, and better than older systems. By using cylinders as the chemical analyzer, the device was made easy to miniaturize, thereby taking up less lab space, costing less, and making the device more sensitive and more accurate.
The team has gone on to successfully commercialize the technology, founding Griffin Analytical, Inc. and winning a number of grants and awards. The company has forty-five employees and is growing rapidly.
Premature birth is the major determinant of long-term health problems in children, and occurs in 11% of approximately six million pregnancies in the U.S. each year. Subtle changes in cervical tissue throughout pregnancy can be detected as a decrease in bioimpedance. This team has developed a probe to measure bioimpedance, thereby detecting impending preterm labor at the tissue level with significantly more accuracy than current technologies
With support from the NCIIA, the Georgia Institute of Technology, in collaboration with Emory University, established an innovative multidisciplinary training program, entitled Integrated Approach to Technological Innovation (IATI). The IATI Program equips science and engineering PhD students with the skills and multidisciplinary perspective necessary to succeed as entrepreneurs. IATI also produces science and engineering (S & E) dissertations with both technical merit and market relevance, and provides Master of Science Management and Doctor of Jurisprudence students with practical experience in a technical research environment.
As part of the IATI Program, students in management, law, and economics team with S&E students to explore the market potential of the new technologies developed by the S&E students. Team projects focus on research in four primary S&E areas critical to US innovation: biomedical engineering, manufacturing, microelectronics, and nanotechnology. Advised by faculty and industry mentors, these teams develop the technical, legal, and business issues involved with moving fundamental research to the marketplace. Fifteen students participate in IATI each year, joining E-Team projects for the duration of the two-year program.
Increasingly, special education and rehabilitation programs are providing clients with computers and, at the same time, trends show that people with disabilities are getting increased access to programs that have traditionally excluded them. The government supports equal access to computers for people with disabilities, while schools, caregivers, and employers seek new ways to increase opportunities and productivity for their clients or workers with disabilities.
In response to these trends, this E-Team developed CameraMouse(TM), the only assistive technology hands-free mouse control device of its kind. With CameraMouse(TM), people with severe disabilities can completely control computers. It is image-driven and non-invasive, and does not require head harnesses, adhesive dots, wires, or illumination with infrared lights as other products do. Intuitive even to small children, users learn to operate CameraMouse(TM) within minutes, and they can soon play educational computer games, write with an onscreen keyboard, and surf the Internet. A research paper on the efficacy of CameraMouse(TM) showed that nine out of twelve people with limited voluntary muscle control due to cerebral palsy or traumatic brain injury learned to use the technology. These nine used CameraMouse(TM) to spell words, operate commercial software, and access the Web.
The Fluent Systems E-Team received funding to develop a wireless NH3 monitor to help farmers apply ammonia nitrate fertilizer to fields more efficiently. US farmers annually apply fifteen million tons of anhydrous ammonia to their crops using a field tractor and an implement to pull a large tank, creating a long, train-like configuration of machinery. Partly because of this configuration, tractor drivers can’t see the tank fluid level, so they must periodically stop application to read the tank’s levels.
Fluent’s NH3 monitor solves the problem with a two-module system composed of a tank module that sits atop the field tank and a display module within the tractor cab. The tank module continuously monitors fluid levels and communicates them to the cab using wireless technology. The cab module allows the farmer to track how much product is in the tank without getting out of the tractor to check the tank gauge.
The product sold well in its first year of commercial availability, but Fluent’s big news came in late 2004, when Raven Industries LLC acquired the company for $1 million. Raven, a diversified manufacturer of plastics, electronics and special apparel products, bought Fluent to help grow its Flow Controls Division.
Approximately 2,500 infants suffered Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) in 1998. Although decreasing, the numbers of SIDS cases is still quite large. Caregivers typically discover the occurrence of SIDS when they check on a sleeping infant. Closely monitoring an infant's breathing gives warning when a problem arises. Breath monitoring is also necessary in other medical cases, such as post-operative patients who have received anesthesia and sleep apnea patients.
The Breath-Alert device, developed by an E-Team of two MBA students and two graduate students in biomedical engineering, is a general purpose breath monitoring system appropriate for post-operative patients, sleep apnea patients, and infants at risk of SIDS. The device measures carbon dioxide levels to determine whether or not the patient is breathing. Carbon dioxide absorbs light in the 4.2 to 4.4 bandwidth, so the device uses infrared (IR) light to detect carbon dioxide in the ambient air around the patient. Breath-Alert positions an IR source tuned to the appropriate wavelength and power to shine its beam through the exhaled volume of gas. A parabolic reflector placed opposite the source concentrates the IR light at its focal point, and an IR sensor at the focal point detects the transmitted light. A simple algorithm processes the IR transmission data and signals an alarm when breathing ceases.
In 2000, an E-Team from Swarthmore College developed a home heating system that utilized many advanced microcontrollers. Although useful, traditional microcontrollers use a cumbersome amount of wiring for communication, making the system expensive to install and difficult to repair without specific expertise.
To address this problem, the team developed a wireless communication system, called simply "The System." The System integrates Bluetooth chips into microcontrollers' printed circuit boards to allow for short-range operation (10 to 100 meters) while using very little power. For example, The System could exchange commands between a boiler and zone valves, zone valves and thermostats, and thermostats and boiler, all without hard wiring.
The E-Team included members from the original Home Heating System E-Team as well as several new recruits.
In continental Europe and the UK, the parking industry has developed innovative solutions to accommodate the increase of cars in limited spaces, but parking technology in the US hasn't reflected these industry changes. Recognizing the need for improved parking technology in the US, this E-Team has developed appropriate technology in response. With Preora, ImargenAR's proprietary technology, wireless sensors in each parking spot alert drivers to empty spots within the lot.
For lot owners and managers, the sensor technology provides constant, accurate information on parking lot occupancy and allows them to keep the lot at full capacity and serve customers better. The sensor system is compatible with automated payment systems, like E-Zpass, and bar code scanners at each spot ensure that customers park in their allotted spaces. Preora could also aid in increased security if linked with license plate scanners and facial recognition systems, monitoring those entering or leaving the lot.
With the sensor system, customers can reserve a space over the Internet or telephone.
Noise pollution is a major problem in many communities. Big industry, military operations, and airports are all capable of producing damaging levels of sound. Wilderness areas need to monitor noise to protect wildlife. Because this type of pollution has a high impact on the safety and quality of life, this E-Team from Dartmouth College developed, by request from Lebanon Municipal Airport, an efficient, low-cost, and portable noise-monitoring system.
The system is a robust, weatherproof, and portable package backed up with solar power for use anywhere. It employs digital and analog technology, and is equipped with long and short-term data storage, user-friendly hardware and software controls, and data analysis software. The system automatically monitors low-complexity noise and records its findings.