Assistive Technologies

Circuit Design
Optics, Machine Vision, OCR
3D Printing
AI, Software
Haptic Feedback
Circuit Design
The invention is a design for a peripheral component interconnect (PCI) local bus controller and target in a PC/104-Plus form-factor. The design uses a flashbased field programmable gate array (FPGA) to provide immediate functionality from power-on to avoid delay after power is applied. It can be reprogrammed from connectors directly on the board, and is able to both receive and drive the clock for system and local peripherals, allowing it to function as either a PCI bus host controller or PCI target device interface. Fully compliant with the PC/104- Plus specification, the design has associated schematics and Gerber files in a vendor-ready state. The design was developed to support ongoing research in fault-tolerant computing systems.
NASA's Langley Research Center researchers have developed a wireless, connection-free, open circuit technology that can be used for developing electrical devices such as sensors that need no physical contact with the properties being measured. At the core of the technology is the SansEC [Sans Electrical Connections] circuit, which is damage resilient and environmentally friendly to manufacture and use. The technology uses a NASA award-winning magnetic field response measurement acquisition device to provide power to the device and, in the case of a sensor application, to acquire physical property measurements from them. This fundamental new approach using open circuits enables applications such as sensors for axial load force, linear displacement, rotation, strain, pressure, torque, and motion sensing, as well as unique designs such as for a wireless keypad or wireless rotational dial, or for energy storage.
Innovators at NASA Johnson Space Center have developed a cost-effective method to create fabric-based circuits and antennas by combining conventional embroidery with automated milling. The technology allows for higher surface conductivity, improved impedance control, expanded design and application potential, and greater choice of materials for optimized performance. Previous efforts to automate fabric circuit and antenna fabrication have faltered on either the complexity of the manufacturing hardware and associated costs, or design and application limitations of the resulting e-textiles. This fabrication method offers benefits in cost and labor savings and provides opportunities for the development of design patterns with higher geometric complexity and performance improvements.
A new fabrication methodology that addresses the need for a thin, and double-sided circuitry board capable of low crosstalk between sensors and low loss in transmission lines.
NASA inventors have developed a low-power wireless platform for the evaluation of sensors printed on flexible polyimide substrates. The platform simplifies development of novel environmental sensors and their end-use applications by merging Bluetooth low energy (BLE) hardware, sensors, and sensor fusion software. It consists of a printed circuit board with programmable system on a chip (PSoC) microcontroller; commercially available inertial, environmental, and gas sensors; and area for deposition of novel printed sensing elements. Outputs can be configured to send sensor data over BLE connection for recording and analysis in third party software. The platforms integrated nature reduces system size, cost, and power consumption; it includes all essential hardware to support development of IoT devices. It has been used for development of respiration and environmental monitoring sensors for astronauts aboard the International Space Station.
NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center offers a suite of novel technologies for digital control of electronic machinery. Originally developed for the autonomous assembly of modular space structures, the base innovations in the suite can improve gap sensors and absolute position sensors. They sense position and proximity and can also wirelessly communicate information to drive switching and stepper motor operations. The technologies can benefit a broad range of industrial robotics applications, and they can be combined to perform a variety of functions. Additional components in the suite can be incorporated into the base technologies to perform other sensor functions and serve as short-range antennas and close-proximity transmitters and receivers. The NASA innovations are self-calibrating and have embedded integrity-monitoring functions for assured position and proximity readings.
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center has developed a radiation hardened 10BASE-T Ethernet solution that combines a custom circuit and a front-end field programmable gate array (FPGA) design to implement an Ethernet Physical Interface (PHY) in compliance with IEEE 802.3. The custom circuit uses available radiation-hardened parts, and handles the electrical interface between standard differential Ethernet signals and the digital signal levels in the FPGA.
Small satellites are being increasingly used in space research. Often, peripheral parts of the satellite, such as solar panels and antennae, are deployed after the satellite is positioned in orbit. The peripheral parts are restrained close to the satellite body until deployed. One method of deploying utilizes nickel chrome (nichrome) wire. For satellite deployment devices utilizing a nichrome wire, there is often a need for a high-efficient constant-current source to activate the deployment device. Nichrome-based deployment devices require a relatively high amount of current to activate. Additionally, nichrome wires must be activated by a specified constant current for optimum performance. If too much current is used, the wire could disintegrate, resulting in deployment failure. If too little current is used, there may not be enough heat to activate the device, also resulting in deployment failure. The Self-Regulating Current Circuit can deliver a regulated current to a deployment device.
NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center has developed a solid-state ultracapacitor using a novel nanocomposite dielectric material. The dielectric material offers high capacitance and breakdown voltage in a robust design, thereby minimizing risks associated with liquid electrolytes used in conventional ultracapacitor designs. Processing methods developed by NASA provide unique dielectric properties at the microstructural level. Nanoscale raw materials are tailored using advance nanocoating techniques, and then blended into coating formulations. These formulations are used to coat/print capacitor layer structures per design requirements. The innovation is intended to replace range-safety batteries that NASA uses to power systems that destroy off-course rockets. A solid-state design provides the needed robustness and safety for this demanding application. Other applications where ultracapacitors are used may benefit as well.
Traditional altitude switch designs for harsh environments are mechanical in nature and operate by means of an inflatable bladder or bellows that mechanically depresses a push-button switch. The altitude trip point is set by mechanically adjusting the distance of the switch to the bellows. The mechanical action of the switch results in a loss of accuracy on the order of several thousand feet, forcing engineers to design interfacing systems with an extremely high error tolerance. Furthermore, these types of systems are typically large and unreliable, difficult to manufacture, and prone to failure under certain operating conditions. The Microcontroller Altimeter (uCA), developed by engineers at NASAs Goddard Space Flight Center, overcomes these limitations by combining the robust and cost-effective nature of modern Printed Circuit Board (PCB) and Solid-state technology to deliver a system that is one third the size of current systems while still maintaining the same switch channel density, and also providing auxiliary user outputs.
NASAs Langley Research Center has developed a new solid state integrated circuit based on field effect transistor (FET). Called ergFET, the sensor characterizes the electronic properties of materials, allowing for detection of items like baggage, wiring, liquids, and can even be used for medical imaging such as remote EKG.
NASA's Langley Research Center has developed a novel shape memory polymer (SMP) made from composite materials for use in morphing structures. In response to an external stimulus such as a temperature change or an electric field, the thermosetting material changes shape, but then returns to its original form once conditions return to normal. Through a precise combination of monomers, conductive fillers, and elastic layers, the NASA polymer matrix can be triggered by two effects--Joule heating and dielectric loss--to increase the response. The new material remedies the limitations of other SMPs currently on the market--namely the slow stimulant response times, the strength inconsistencies, and the use of toxic epoxies that may complicate manufacturing. NASA has developed prototypes and now seeks a partner to license the technology for commercial applications.
Researchers at NASAs Marshall Space Flight Center have developed a new dielectric material based on barium titanate nanopowder processed via spark plasma sintering (SPS). The rapid and full densification achieved by SPS, together with a unique ceramic nanopowder processing approach, enables new ceramic materials with extremely high relative permittivity or dielectric constant. As NASA requires more power from battery and capacitor systems for longer and more-complex space missions, today's energy storage devices are increasingly challenged to meet these demands. New energy storage devices that can replace standard electrochemical batteries or ultracapacitors and that can offer major gains in performance, weight, reliability, and safety are critical. This new technology offers a potential solution and can also offer significant advantages for many other non-space applications that use batteries or supercapacitors as well.
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