For release: 02/06/02
Release #: 02-026
Interactive multimedia units tell NASA technology transfer story at Alabama malls and airports
Doctors diagnose and treat disease more effectively; police find criminals faster and NASCAR drivers are cooler — all because of technology developed in the U.S. space program. The story of this technology transfer — taking technologies developed by NASA and turning them into commercial products — is now being told in a new way.
Interactive multi-media displays are being installed at high-profile locations around Alabama to share stories of technologies, born in the space program, that change life on Earth.
The stand-alone, stainless steel units feature touch screen menus and graphic presentations that take viewers on a technology transfer journey that began during the Apollo Moon mission days and continues to evolve today.
The Technology Transfer Department at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., is placing the first units at the Huntsville International Airport, Madison Square Mall in Huntsville, the Birmingham International Airport and the Marshall Center headquarters complex, Building 4200.
“This is one way we take our message to different audiences,” said Vernotto McMillan, deputy manager of the Technology Transfer Department at Marshall. “We’re trying to reach everyone from children to senior adults, from business travelers to vacationers. The ultimate goal is to give American taxpayers the knowledge of how their Space Program is benefiting their everyday lives.”
A touch screen dealing with the Apollo years recalls the development of digital imaging processing. It led to the widely used body imaging techniques of today: computer-aided tomography (CAT Scan) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
Astronauts exploring the Moon needed a durable, long lasting, portable drill to gather core samples sometimes as deep as 10 feet (3.8 meters.) The interactive display explains how the development of those tools led to the millions of cordless rechargeable products used today.
Touch the screen and up pops the story of how insulating products from human space flight are now being used to keep NASCAR drivers cooler during their long races. The composite flexible blanket insulation material significantly lowers temperatures inside vehicles, reducing driver fatigue while increasing racing safety.
Another touch of the screen brings up the story of video image stabilization and registration technology, or VISAR. This computer-based system invented by two Marshall Center scientists dramatically improves video by stabilizing images, making them sharper and legible. The FBI used it during the investigation of the 1996 Olympic bombings in Atlanta. It gave them invaluable details from surveillance films. Other law enforcement agencies have since used the technology to help track and find criminals in three-dozen cases across the U.S. This same technology will soon be incorporated into consumer electronics.
Touching another part of the display screen brings up the story of light emitting diodes. Originally used for plant experiments on the Space Shuttle, this specialized type of light source is now used to treat certain forms of cancer and is being adapted to help with hard-to-heal wounds, including ulcers and severe burns.
“These examples are just part of a much larger effort to bring the amazing advances of space technology to our world,” McMillan said. “The technologies we need to reach the stars are truly the engines that drive America’s future, and we expect many more breakthroughs in the days ahead.“
Exodus Technology Corporation of Huntsville, in conjunction with Getronics Government Solutions of Herndon, Va., KAE Corporation and Enhanced Realities — both of Huntsville — developed the multimedia display units through a Technology Transfer contract. Future plans may include additional units being installed throughout the United States.
To learn more about technology transfer managed by the Marshall Center please visit the Web site at:
Newsroom Home | News releases | Photos | Fact sheets
Video | Audio | Bios | Press kits | Media services | Contact us