Assistive Technologies

Circuit Design
Optics, Machine Vision, OCR
3D Printing
AI, Software
Haptic Feedback
Innovators at the NASA Johnson Space Center (JSC) have developed a soft, wearable, robotic upper limb exoskeleton garment designed to actively control the shoulder and elbow, both positioning the limb in specific orientations and commanding the limb through desired motions. The invention was developed to provide effective upper extremity motor rehabilitation for patients with neurological impairments (e.g., traumatic brain injury, stroke). Due to its portable, battery-compatible design, NASA's garment allows for task-specific and intensive motor practice, an important part of rehabilitation for such patients, to be performed outside clinical environments (including in the home). In addition to upper extremity motor rehabilitation, the technology may also find applications in human performance augmentation, including in future spacesuit designs.
Researchers at NASA Johnson Space Center have developed the Portable Knee Dynamometer, a device that enables quadricep and hamstring strength assessment, rehabilitation, and exercise capabilities for a user outside of a traditional clinical setting. Clinical orthopedic dynamometers for high-strength muscle groups tend to be large, heavy, and typically not readily transportable. NASAs novel device can be easily carried to a patient who may be homebound or otherwise unable to travel to a clinic due to surgery, injury, or pathology. The compact and lightweight device can be mounted on a wide variety of sitting surfaces including folding chairs, and it easily adjusts to a users femur and tibia lengths. The device can also be quickly repositioned to facilitate assessment of an opposite leg. Prior state of the art provided no practical means of dynamometry while in orbit for assessing astronauts muscular health and tendency for atrophy, and portable knee dynamometry was similarly limited on Earth to clinical environments. NASA spaceflight doctors and exercise physiologists are interested in collecting this data to determine the time-course change of muscle loss during space operations. Conversely, the Portable Knee Dynamometer can also provide data on recovering muscle during rehabilitation. This device addresses both these needs by enabling data-logging while providing exercise or rehabilitative movement, making it ideal for space and terrestrial applications.
Researchers at the NASA Johnson Space Center (JSC) in collaboration with General Motors (GM) have designed and developed Robo-Glove, a wearable human grasp assist device, to help reduce the grasping force needed by an individual to operate tools for an extended time or when performing tasks having repetitive motion. Robo-Glove has the potential to help workers, such as construction workers, hazardous material workers, or assembly line operators, whose job requires continuous grasping and ungrasping motion. The Robo-Glove also has potential applications in prosthetic devices, rehabilitation aids, and people with impaired or limited arm and hand muscle strength. This NASA Technology is available for your company to license and develop into a commercial product. NASA does not manufacture products for commercial sale.
Innovators at NASA Johnson Space Center (JSC) have created an enhanced second-generation, robotically assisted extravehicular activity (EVA) glove. The SSRG has been engineered to further decrease the exertion required to do complex, hand-intensive EVA tasks and reduce the risk of astronaut hand injury. Originating from its predecessors, the NASA/General Motors RoboGlove, and the later first-generation Space Suit RoboGlove, the SSRG realizes improved sensing, control, interface, and avionics capabilities. Among these improvements is the implementation of a power steering mode, which allows the user to position his/her fingers in an arbitrarily chosen position and receive assistance in holding that position. The SSRG retains the ability to operate like a conventional space suit glove while the actuators are unpowered. The design intent for the SSRG is to enhance a users ability to perform human scale work, with considerations for speed, power, durability, dexterity, and ease of operation.
NASA's Langley Research Center has created a modified electrospinning apparatus for spinning highly aligned polymer fibers. Fiber placement, orientation, and porosity are difficult to control using conventional electrospinning apparatus. Conventional electrospinning creates randomly oriented fibers that are well suited to nonwoven mats, but not to other applications. Now, NASA Langley has developed the capability to control the alignment and porosity of fibers for mats, which will broaden the range of engineering applications of electrospun materials to include new tissue engineering scaffolds, membrane filters, textiles, and embedded sensors and actuators. The new apparatus provides a simple and inexpensive means of producing fibers and mats of controlled fiber diameter, porosity, and thickness.
NASA Langley engineers have created a software tool that operates on a smartphone and incorporates functions of physiological self-regulation or biofeedback with other gaming, training or simulation activities such as orienteering, parcourse training. The central distinguishing characteristic is the integrating of mobile brainwave and physiological monitoring technology with mobile geolocation technology in a smartphone/tablet computer application for biofeedback training and/or entertainment purposes. It makes biofeedback training fun and stimulating to do thereby enabling mastery of the techniques.
Innovators at the NASA Johnson Space Center (JSC) have developed a novel foot-pedal operated system and device to control movement of an object in three-dimensional (3D) space. The Foot Pedal Controller system enables operators to control movement of spacecraft, aircraft, and watercraft using only foot pedals. This design leaves the hands free for simultaneous operation of other equipment. The Foot Pedal Controller integrates six articulating mechanisms and motion sensors and provides continuous positional feedback to the operator. Motion control across six degrees-of-freedom is enabled by three-control motions for each foot. Specifically, the foot pedal controller moves the object forward/backward, up/down, left/right (translation in three perpendicular axes) combined with rotation about three perpendicular axes, often termed pitch, yaw, and roll. This NASA Technology is available for your company to license and develop into a commercial product. NASA does not manufacture products for commercial sale.
To train astronauts to live and work in the weightless environment on the International Space Station, NASA employs a number of techniques and facilities that simulate microgravity. Engineers at the NASA Johnson Space Center (JSC) have developed a new system called the Active Response Gravity Offload System (ARGOS) that provides a simulated reduced gravity environment within a confined interior volume for astronauts to move about and/or equipment to be moved about as if they were in a different gravity field. Each astronaut/item is connected to an overhead crane system that senses their actions (walking or jumping, for example) and then lifts, moves, and descends them as if they had performed the action in a specified reduced gravity. This NASA Technology is available for your company to license and develop into a commercial product. NASA does not manufacture products for commercial sale.
Innovators at NASA Johnson Space Center have developed a method that uses Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) interrogators for use with wearable active RFID sensor tags that can operate on ultra-low power. The technique uses a store-and-forward approach to manage the collection of data from RFID active tags even when they are not in range of an individual interrogator, as they move from the coverage area of one interrogator to the next. This allows the use of RFID active tags to transport sensor data in a highly complex environment where instantaneous access to an RFID interrogator cannot be guaranteed. Using this technique, an RFID active tag battery operational lifetime can be extended.
NASA's Johnson Space Center has developed a Passive Smart Container to monitor and track items that are too small to tag individually. Although Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology is being used widely for pallet and box level tracking in the commercial sector, significant technology gaps remain for tracking dense quantities at the item level. This system uses RFID circuits to identify the fill level in a container and could be easily converted for use in industries such as individual health care management, pharmaceutical manufacturing and distribution inventory tracking, and retail and supply chain inventory management. Use of this technology enables the manufacturer, distributor supplier or user to easily manage and control an inventory of small items that are difficult to tag such as bulk grain foods, liquids, pills, mechanical parts (nuts, bolts, and washers) and small electronic components. This NASA Technology is available for your company to license and develop into a commercial product. NASA does not manufacture products for commercial sale.
The Pressure Sensor Mechanism is designed to measure or monitor tactile pressure. It is based on passive Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) sensor tags and is applicable to a variety of systems. As RFID sensors transmit information wirelessly, they eliminate many challenges associated with traditional wired systems such as bridging joints, reliability, volume, and mass. Innovators at NASA Johnson Space Center are using this technology in robotic systems for pressure sensor monitoring. The RFID Pressure Sensor Mechanism has the potential to be easily integrated in mechanical systems to wirelessly and autonomously communicate pressure changes back to a monitoring system without an external power supply. This NASA Technology is available for your company to license and develop into a commercial product. NASA does not manufacture products for commercial sale.
Researchers at NASA's Johnson Space Center (JSC), in collaboration with General Motors and Oceaneering, have designed a state-of-the-art, highly dexterous, humanoid robot: Robonaut 2 (R2). R2 is made up of multiple component technologies and systems: vision systems, image recognition systems, sensor integrations, tendon hands, control algorithms, and much more. R2's nearly 50 patented and patent-pending technologies have the potential to be game-changers in multiple industries, including logistics and distribution, medical and industrial robotics, as well as hazardous, toxic, or remote environments. This NASA Technology is available for your company to license and develop into a commercial product. NASA does not manufacture products for commercial sale.
NASA Langley Research Center has developed a novel laser vibrometer sensor for monitoring cardiac activities remotely and non-invasively, specifically heart functions of valve/chamber opening and closing cycles (cardiac cycles). The device provides precise magnitude and timing information, noninvasively and away from the heart region without interference by patient garments.
This invention facilitates collection, storage, concentration, and drying of liquid or mixed liquid/solid material. Material may be medical waste, aqueous hazardous waste for which disposal cost is high, such as radioactive salt solutions, or brine or sludge from water treatment operations. It can be used to dry biological specimens or concentrate water samples for analysis. It can also function as a portable toilet.
NASA's Langley Research Center has developed a technology at the forefront of a new generation of computer and video game environments that train valuable mental skills, beyond eye-hand coordination, for the personal improvement, not just the diversion, of the user. Monitoring and enhancement of operator state is an objective of the current LaRC Intelligent Integrated Flight Deck Technology (IIFDT) program. Prior research by the inventor, Alan Pope, modulate (based on player physiological signals) the manual inputs that a player makes to the buttons or joysticks of a video game hand controller. However, a new type of controller allows a player to make inputs to a video game by moving the entire controller itself, allowing the present inventions entirely new approach to integrating psychophysiological signals into game play.
NASA's Langley Research Center has developed ZONE, an innovative method for improving athletes responses to stress, anxiety, and loss of concentration during competition. In the training environment, when the user successfully attains an optimal target state of psychophysiological functioning, the technology informs and/or rewards that user through real-time physical changes in the athletic equipment. For example, in the training setting, a golfer can work toward optimal concentration in the act of putting, leading to improved performance in real situations.
NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center has developed a solid-state ultracapacitor with a unique combination of high capacitance and battery-like discharge characteristics. The high capacitance in a solid-state form can enable a new type of ultracapacitor, and, in combination with the ability to deliver sustained power like a battery, can perhaps enable an entirely new class of energy storage devices. Test devices have demonstrated high capacitance, and uniquely, a discharge behavior that is more typical of a battery. Data show that these test devices discharge rapidly down to a certain voltage, and then discharge slowly like a battery. Hence, the term hybrid ultracapacitor is used to describe the technology. The subject technology was developed as a result of efforts to replace range-safety batteries used to power the systems that destroy off-course space launch vehicles. Other commercial applications where ultracapacitors or batteries are used may benefit as well.
NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center has developed a high-performance dielectric material in the development of ultracapacitors to replace batteries. This new material, formulated as a composite ink or paste, is based on novel high-permittivity dielectric powders. This dielectric material has performance characteristics of rapid charging; ultra-low leakage; and an extremely high dielectric constant. Furthermore, select compositions can offer battery-like discharge behavior. These attributes make the invention a highly desirable dielectric material for the development and manufacture of novel energy storage devices, including ultracapacitors, batteries, and other devices requiring a high dielectric constant and/or high breakdown voltages. The ceramic material also has the advantage of being completely safe as compared to traditional electrochemical batteries. Targeting potential use for satellite propulsion systems, the invention is undergoing continued development at NASA.
NASA's Langley Research Center researchers have a strong technology foundation in the use of electron-beam (e-beam) deposition for free-form fabrication of complex shaped metal parts. While e-beam wire deposition is of interest for rapid prototyping of metal parts, cost-effective near-net shape manufacturing, and potential use in space, it is also of intense interest for industrial welding and fabrication in a range of applications, from small components to large aerospace structures. Through significant advancements in techniques to improve control of the process, NASA greatly expands upon the capabilities of the e-beam fabrication and welding process.
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