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NASA Makes It Easier to Find Assistive Technologies for Licensing

Woman running on the anti-gravity treadmill.
Alter-G Inc. licensed NASA technology in 2005 and commercialized it through an “anti-gravity” treadmill that is now used by a variety of patients, including professional and collegiate athletes, people learning to walk again after injury or surgery and people suffering from other stresses on the joints such as arthritis or obesity.
Alter-G Inc.

NASA develops a variety of technologies to explore space and beyond for the benefit of humanity. One measure of its success is the impact on the daily lives of millions of people with injuries and disabilities who are assisted with innovative treatments and products developed from NASA-derived technology.

Kissiah being inducted into Space Foundations Space Technology Hall of Fame.
Kennedy Space Center engineer Adam Kissiah is inducted into the Space Foundation’s Space Technology Hall of Fame in 2003 for his invention of the cochlear implant. Left to right are former astronaut Donald McMonagle, Kissiah, former astronaut and NASA administrator Vice Adm. Richard Truly, and Space Foundation president and CEO Elliot Pulham.
Space Foundation

After all, it was thanks to NASA’s resources that Adam Kissiah, an electronics instrumentation engineer at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, was able to create what would become the cochlear implant. This assistive technology is now considered a medical wonder and has restored hearing to hundreds of thousands of adults and children across the planet since its creation nearly 50 years ago.

And now, NASA is making it easier than ever to find and access patented inventions born from space exploration that could help design or manufacture assistive technologies. To help spur the next generation of assistive technologies, NASA has compiled patented technologies with potential applications to this industry in one place. Companies are invited to browse the list for innovations that can help improve an existing product or launch the creation of something new.

“NASA is no stranger to improving the world of health and medicine. Our technologies benefit all humanity, and making them easier to find for companies creating these tools to improve people’s quality of life just made sense,” said Dan Lockney, program executive for NASA’s Technology Transfer program. “We can’t wait to learn how these innovations born from NASA expertise will help people lead healthy, productive, and independent lives.”

According to the Assistive Technology Industry Association (ATIA), assistive technologies are products, equipment, and systems that enhance learning, working, and daily living for people with disabilities. This includes everything from hardware, such as prosthetics, hearing aids, and wheelchairs, to software like screen readers and communication programs.

JORDY wearable device technology.
The Joint Optical Reflective Display (JORDY) wearable device helps people with low vision see by letting them change contrast, brightness, and display modes and by magnifying objects up to 50 times. The technology grew out of a joint effort by NASA, the Johns Hopkins Wilmer Eye Institute, and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
Enhanced Vision

Another notable NASA assistive technology spinoff is JORDY, or Joint Optical Reflective Display. The device enables people with low vision to read and write. JORDY enhances an individual’s remaining sight by magnifying objects up to 50 times and allowing them to change contrast, brightness, and display modes, depending on what works best for their low-vision condition.

People working on vehicles.
Swedish company Bioservo Technologies’ Ironhand, based on a set of patents from NASA and General Motors’ (GM) Robo-Glove, is the world’s first industrial-strength robotic glove for factory workers and others who perform repetitive manual tasks.
Bioservo Technologies/Niklas Lagström

The curated list on features hardware and software available for licensing, including:

  • A robotic upper body exoskeleton that helps the user control the shoulder and elbow to rehabilitate people suffering from the effects of a stroke or traumatic brain injury
  • A glove to help reduce the grasping force needed to operate tools for an extended period of time, born from a collaboration to build a robotic astronaut
  • 3D printing techniques to help build delicate or complex parts
  • New and improved processes to fabricate circuitry

In January 2024, representatives from NASA’s Technology Transfer program will be present at the ATIA conference in Orlando, Florida. Attendees will be able to learn more about the assistive technologies available for licensing.

NASA’s Technology Transfer program, managed by the Space Technology Mission Directorate, ensures technologies developed for missions of exploration and discovery are broadly available to the public, maximizing the benefit to humanity. Learn more by visiting the Technology Transfer Portal at:



Last Updated
Oct 17, 2023
Loura Hall