Keith's note: I received a hard copy of NASA Spinoff 2016 today. I have not actually held a hard copy of this publication in a long time. Having worked on portions of NASA Spinoff reports in the 80s and early 90s I have to say that this document is much more detailed and varied than what I worked on back in the day. That said, as hard as this office tries to include things, they often mission some glaringly obvious spinoffs. In one instance they missed a spinoff that has actually saved lives all by itself. The spinoff NASA missed is FINDER (Finding Individuals for Disaster and Emergency Response), an innovative device developed by JPL that uses radar to detect the heartbeats of people buried under rubble after a natural disaster such as an earthquake. Alas there is no mention of FINDER in the 2016 or 2015 NASA Spinoff reports. There was no 2014 report. If it is mentioned somewhere in these reports, then I apologize, but I could not find it.
On 24 April 2015 a 7.9 magnitude earthquake struck Nepal - a nation woefully unprepared to respond to such an event. NASA FINDER technology was on site with a very short period of time and was used to locate victims under collapsed buildings. The basic technology behind FINDER is a microwave radar system that can detect a human heartbeat as well as their breathing under 30 feet of rubble or through 20 feet of solid concrete. The device is so precise that it can differentiate between a human and animals. This amazing device has quite a story. NASA and DHS sponsored a media demonstration in May 2015 while rescue operations were still underway in Nepal. I wrote about this in "Using Space Radar To Hear Human Heartbeats in Nepal". NASA also put a prominent feature online as well. Yet NASA's Spinoff people seem to not be paying complete attention to what the agency is actually doing.
Again, while NASA's tech transfer and spinoff efforts have made great improvements, they still manage to pass over some truly amazing pieces of technology that NASA has developed - hardware with a proven ability to save lives.
- Another NASA Spinoff That NASA Ignores, earlier post
- NASA's Latest Stealth Spinoff, earlier post
- Another NASA Spinoff That NASA Isn't Telling You About, earlier post