Pulse


Pulse

By GCN Staff


DARPA office to grow defense technologies with biology

Biology is taking its place among future defense technologies with a new DARPA office called the Biological Technology Office. It will apply the tools of engineering and related disciplines to biological systems to design next-generation technologies.

BTO will explore the intersection of biology with the other physical sciences to develop technology for U.S. national security, according to a DARPA statement. Its programs will operate across a wide range of spatial and temporal scales. These include from individual cells to humans and other organisms and the communities in which they operate, and “from the time it takes for a nerve to fire to the time it may take a new virus to spread around the world one sneeze at a time,” the agency said.

The office will continue the work of the agency’s Defense Sciences Office and Microsystem Technology Office in fields such as neuroscience, sensor design, microsystems and computer science.

“The Biological Technologies Office will advance and expand on a number of earlier DARPA programs that made preliminary inroads into the bio-technological frontier,” said Geoff Ling, the first director of BTO. “We’ve been developing the technological building blocks, we’ve been analyzing our results, and now we’re saying publicly to the research and development community, ‘We are ready to start turning the resulting knowledge into practical tools and capabilities.”

The BTO will concentrate on three research goals:

Restore and maintain warfighter abilities. BTO seeks new discoveries that help maintain peak warfighter abilities and heal injured service members through autonomous diagnostics and new therapies as well as advanced prosthetics and neural interfaces.

Harness biological systems. BTO seeks to uncover and apply rules governing biological systems to engineering new systems and products with novel materials and functionality.

Apply biological complexity at scale. BTO will also investigate the complexity and living-system dynamics of biological systems with the goal of developing applications to improve health, understand disease migration and secure food sources. 

Posted on Apr 03, 2014 at 11:12 AM0 comments


Simulation and Game Institute opens at GMU

With the rise of experimentation in “serious gaming,” George Mason University and Prince William County opened the new Simulation and Game Institute  on the school’s Prince William campus last week.

A public-private partnership in game design and simulation, SGI is the only institution of its kind on the East Coast, and one of only four global affiliated facilities focused on entrepreneurship into serious gaming. The facility offers high-quality game design, research and development, simulation and game training and certification in addition to visualization and simulation software and rapid-prototyping development.

“The world is changing quickly. In the innovation economy, “high value industries of the mind” are creating the well-paid jobs of the future,” George Mason CEO Dr. Annie Hunt Burriss said. “Together, George Mason University and Prince William County, with our community partners, are creating a great new industry and jobs that Americans want.”

The George Mason University foundation secured the institute’s establishment in October 2013 with $32,000 from the Prince William County Economic Development Opportunity Fund. Companies chosen to reside at the institute will receive business assistance services from the Prince William County Department of Economic Development.

Posted on Apr 02, 2014 at 11:33 AM0 comments


Penn State to auction its intellectual property online

Penn State will hold an auction for intellectual property, where winners will receive licensing rights to patents derived from faculty research in the College of Engineering, according to a university statement.

The auction will be the first of its kind in the United States to be directly overseen by a university, and will take place from March 31 to April 11. University officials believe this auction will be the first of many.

“Penn State and other research universities typically have IP that has been marketed by their tech transfer offices but for a variety of reasons has not been picked up by a commercial entity and therefore sits on the proverbial shelf,” said Penn State Associate Vice President for Research and Technology Transfer Ron Huss. “This auction is an effort to get our IP off of the shelf and in the hands of companies that can use the technology, at very favorable terms and price points. The buyers get the rights to use the IP, and the University gets a financial return. It's a win-win situation.”

The Intellectual Property Auction Website -- I-PAW -- is now accessible at http://patents.psu.edu/ so that interested parties can view available IP, create an account and pre-register for the auction.

But selling patents is not the sole purpose of the auction. Penn State Interim Vice President for Research Neil Sharkey said the idea was chosen in part to raise awareness of the University’s licenses whose commercial applications could prove extremely valuable.

There will be about 70 engineering patents available for auction in fields such as acoustics, fuel cells and sensors. Many of the required minimum bids will be around $5,000. Beyond the patents currently on auction, users can browse Penn State invention patents that are available for licensing through the Office of Technology Management.

Posted on Apr 01, 2014 at 10:07 AM0 comments


IRS adds new features to mobile tax filing app, sees ROI

With tax day just around the corner, the IRS has added new features to its IRS2Go mobile application, which provides users with tax tips and tools to navigate key IRS services.

Taxpayers can now check the status of their federal income tax refund using their Apple or Android mobile device. They can access the information by entering their Social Security number, filing status and the amount of their anticipated refund from their 2013 tax return.

Users who filed a return electronically can check their refund status within 24 hours after the return is received. The update also allows users to request their tax return or account transcript, which they will receive in the mail.

In addition to IRS2Go, the IRS is moving rapidly to adopt electronic and social media services to assist taxpayers and lower the cost overhead of traditional customer services. Currently, the IRS has channels up and going for taxpayer tips and information on YouTube, Twitter and Facebook.

The federal government has been successful in getting a return on these investments in IRS electronic services, according to a recent report by Accenture. Of 147.6 million tax returns that were filed in September 2012, 113.8 million (77 percent) were done online, it said.

The IRS2Go smartphone app in particular was a key reason for the agency’s success with e-services, according to Accenture, which put the value of potentially fraudulent refunds avoided by using the app at $4.2 billion.

The IRS first launched IRS2Go in January 2011. Within two months, 110,000 iPhone users and 135,000 Android users had downloaded the app. Total cost of the in-house development: $50,000, spent mostly for security features.

Posted on Mar 27, 2014 at 11:20 AM0 comments


Sensors, wireless tech protect police dogs from heat stroke

Police and military dogs face many of the same dangers as their human partners. Many of these dogs, also known as K9s, fall victim to heat related conditions such as heat stroke, which could result in death.

To combat K9 casualties, Massachusetts, Arizona and Texas law enforcement units have invested in a wireless monitoring system to convey the dog’s internal body temperature to its human partner. Data Sciences International and Blueforce Development Corp. have partnered to develop the new system.

The system continuously measures the K9’s body temperature using a small surgically implanted sensor. The sensor then relays the temperature to a receiver attached to the dog’s protective gear, where it can be monitored by the human partners. The receiver relays the information to the K9 officer's smartphone and will instantly alert him if the K9's body temperature exceeds safe health limits.

"Our active involvement in public safety revealed that officers have serious K9 safety needs," said Blueforce CEO Mike Helfrich. "We expect this solution to help save K9 lives by communicating real-time temperature."

The telemetry is communicated to anyone subscribed to the animal through the Blueforce Tactical mobile application for Android or iOS, according to Blueforce blog post. Those who are subscribed receive a notification when the dog’s body temperature exceeds or falls below prescribed values.

Posted on Mar 26, 2014 at 11:17 AM0 comments