Infrared Ear Thermometer
Diatek Corporation and NASA originally developed the Diatek Model 7000 aural thermometer, which was marketed as SureTemp by Welch Allyn, weighing only eight ounces and measuring temperature in less than two seconds. It uses infrared astronomy technology to measure the amount of infrared energy emitted by the eardrum, the same way the temperature of stars and planets is measured. This method avoids contact with mucous membranes, virtually eliminating the possibility of cross infection, and permits temperature measurement of newborn, critically-ill, or incapacitated patients.
With the need for foamless toothpaste that could be swallowed after use-practical for the zero-gravity environment of space-NASA dental consultant Dr. Ira Shannon with the Oral Disease Research Lab of Virginia Hospital developed a product that was shown in comparison tests with available commercial products to be equally effective and pleasantly-flavored. Children, as well as certain patients who are bedridden, wheelchair-confined, or with oral facial paralysis whose ability to expectorate is limited, all benefit from this innovative solution as well.
Estee Lauder employed a digital image processing analyzer and software system-inspired by technological advancements led by NASA for its goals in lunar research-for the evaluation of cosmetic products for skincare. This technique brought out subtleties otherwise undetectable and provides better determination of product effectiveness.
Memory Metal Alloys
Shape Memory Effect (SME)-the ability of certain metal alloys to change shape in response to changes in temperature-had already been explored by NASA for decades when it contracted with Memry Corporation to advance SME research for use in the planned Earth-orbiting space station. Adapting NASA-acquired SME expertise, Memry produced a wide range of usable forms and, in the course of the work, also created innovative lines of consumer and industrial safety products as well. These products prevented scalding from tap or shower water in kitchens and baths through the contraction of a heat-sensitive valve that reduced water flow to a trickle at dangerous temperatures (restoring normal flow as the temperature cooled), as well as shut off pneumatic pressure that operates control valves in industrial process lines containing hazardous gases or fluids.
Environmentally Safe Sewage Treatment
NASA’s Dr. B. C. Wolverton, former head of head of the Environmental Research Laboratory at NASA’s John C. Stennis Space Center (SSC), is widely acclaimed for his innovative work in natural water purification. Wolverton and his SSC group developed a new and advanced technique known as the artificial marsh filtering system that employed the use of aquatic plant systems for removing pollutants from wastewater. When NASA’s technology was used in a Louisiana wastewater treatment facility, it helped the city develop a better and more economical wastewater treatment facility. Now, the systems are in place at several large facilities across the country.
Polished Brass Finish
NASA is a leader in surface coating technology, which enhances the physical properties of a wide range of materials. Recognizing a need for more durable polished brass plumbing fixtures, NASA assisted Moen in creating a new polished brass finish called LifeShine, an affordable polished brass finish available in several metallic hues (incorporating Titanium for superior durability) that is as resilient as chrome, scratch-resistant to cleaning products, as abrasive as steel wool, and guaranteed to resist deterioration through normal wear and tear, salt, and humidity.
Bacteriostatic Water Softeners
The General Ionics Model IQ Bacteriostatic Water Softener, a municipal-use water treatment system, incorporated NASA silver ion technology originally developed to purify water aboard Space Shuttle Orbiters, which resulted in softened water and inhibited bacteria growth in the filtering unit. Additionally, various NASA-born technologies have been applied by commercial groups in the development of a variety of other commercial and industrial water purification and filtering products used today.
NRC-2 Superinsulation, manufactured by Metallized Products, Inc. (MPI), was designed for superconducting magnets used in MRI systems and particle accelerators. Its thin, polyester film characterized by a unique crinkled surface that provides surface stand-off between layers and minimizes heat transfer in multilayer applications. NRC-2/Two is a two-sided metallized film. The material, originally developed as a skin for balloon-like satellites, was later used by NASA as a thermal barrier. MPI worked with NASA on the development of the original material and now supplies it for both space and consumer applications.