NASA Spinoffs: 6 Innovations In Health & Medicine - InformationWeek

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Healthcare // Patient Tools
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10/22/2014
09:06 AM
Elena Malykhina
Elena Malykhina
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NASA Spinoffs: 6 Innovations In Health & Medicine

From solar-powered refrigerators that store vaccines to handheld diagnostic devices -- these technologies were originally developed for NASA missions and were later commercialized to make life better on Earth.
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Sensors that monitor metabolic healthTo measure astronauts' metabolic rates in space, NASA, Case Western University, and the Cleveland Clinic developed the Portable Unit for Metabolic Analysis (PUMA). Cleveland-based Orbital Research licensed and altered PUMA to help the Navy measure pilot oxygen deficiency, and is designing a device for hospitals to monitor patient oxygen intake. Orbital Research also entered into a contract with the Air Force to develop carbon dioxide sensors, addressing issues with the life-support systems onboard F-22 fighter aircraft. The current PUMA technology weighs less and has longer battery life than current systems.
(Image credit: NASA)

Sensors that monitor metabolic health
To measure astronauts' metabolic rates in space, NASA, Case Western University, and the Cleveland Clinic developed the Portable Unit for Metabolic Analysis (PUMA). Cleveland-based Orbital Research licensed and altered PUMA to help the Navy measure pilot oxygen deficiency, and is designing a device for hospitals to monitor patient oxygen intake. Orbital Research also entered into a contract with the Air Force to develop carbon dioxide sensors, addressing issues with the life-support systems onboard F-22 fighter aircraft. The current PUMA technology weighs less and has longer battery life than current systems.

(Image credit: NASA)

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anon2165792725
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anon2165792725,
User Rank: Apprentice
11/13/2014 | 4:21:44 PM
Re: Unlimited budgets = waste
I see you've fallen for the siren song of the Urban Legend. Taxpayers did NOT fund the development of the so-called "space pen" -- which the Russians also happen to use (think about it for a moment; graphite in pencils are a health hazard in a microgravity environment when the lead breaks and is inhaled -- and a fire hazard because of its conductivity if it becomes involved with anything electrical that can arc and short out your equipment and leave you having a very bad day).

To learn the real story (careful, you might actually learn something), visit "The billion-dollar space pen" at The Space Review (dot) com
mak63
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mak63,
User Rank: Ninja
10/25/2014 | 2:11:57 AM
Software that measures behavioral alertness
If you google Psychomotor Vigilance Task, there's a neat test from the Sleep Disorders Center Florida. I don't believe is the same test as the article mentions in the slideshow 4, but it's worth to take it.
Hint: don't take it late at night, because your score will be low and it'll tell you to get medical evaluation
asksqn
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asksqn,
User Rank: Ninja
10/23/2014 | 5:58:31 PM
Unlimited budgets = waste
And let's not forget the most fundamental spinoff from NASA's collossal budget into commercial usage - the ever popular writing implement that cost taxpayers millions of dollars to develop -a pen that writes upside down in space-  LOL NASA could have saved millions and just used a pencil like the Russians did.  
PedroGonzales
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PedroGonzales,
User Rank: Ninja
10/23/2014 | 11:04:09 AM
Re: Frustration
@ susan. Unfortunately these days, budgets for research and science are being cut.  Even NASA has to shift their focus because of lack of funding.  It is very difficult for naysayers to understand the benefits of investing in research and space exploration.
Susan Fourtané
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Susan Fourtané,
User Rank: Author
10/23/2014 | 2:37:04 AM
Quick medical readings device
With this device you can't avoid thinking of Star Trek. :)

"In addition to being useful in space, the technology can be used in rural areas that don't have easy access to labs."

Also, I would say this device can be useful in long exploration trips, in ships, airplanes, disaster areas, was zones, and any place where a quick medical reading could be useful. 

-Susan
Susan Fourtané
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Susan Fourtané,
User Rank: Author
10/23/2014 | 2:20:35 AM
Re: Frustration
Whoopty, 

I know what you mean and I agree. I also get frustrated for this reason. Then, you always have to see who are the ones opposing to space exploration. 

To start with, the problems on Earth are caused by humans. They don't just fall from the sky. You can't stop development for "the problems on Earth." Those will always exist as they have existed for thousands of years, just the same old problems. A quick look at the world history of humanity confirms this. 

The contributions of NASA to improving health conditions on Earth are just one single good reason why space exploration is worth it. Great part of the technology used on Earth comes from NASA research as well. 

But you see, some people will always complain about everything and will never see the positive side of anything. That's another thing that will never change. On the contrary, it's getting worse. 

-Susan
PedroGonzales
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PedroGonzales,
User Rank: Ninja
10/22/2014 | 6:25:02 PM
Re: Frustration
@Whoopty. You are right. I have no idea how technologies applied for space travel have some real applications here on earth.  I'm sure there are other technologies which are in the NASA pipeline which we have no idea but will soon appear here on earth. 
Whoopty
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Whoopty,
User Rank: Ninja
10/22/2014 | 10:45:08 AM
Frustration
This is why it's so frustrating when people suggest we shouldn't push space exploration when there are so many problems here on Earth. By pushing the boundaries of human endurance, experience and our own view of the universe, we learn and develop so much that can ultimately really help life on Earth. 
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