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Posted on November 6th, 2013

Out of This World – Crowdsourcing Science

From cordless power tools to pacemakers, NASA’s innovations in science and technology have not only allowed us to find new stars and explore our Universe, but also assist in advancing commercial and biomedical innovations. Much of the technology developed by NASA makes its way into the commercial sphere and is used in every aspect of our lives. I discussed this in a previous article on NASA’s Spinoff publication; it comes out every year and details how NASA innovation has directly lead to commercial success. Here is Captain Kirk telling you all about it:

William Shatner on why space is great! (Credit: NASA)

NASA is now taking it one step further, teaming with Marblar (a startup that specializes in product development for long lost science and neglected technological innovation) to share patents on the Marblar website for crowdsourced product ideas.

From high-efficiency radio-frequency  heating elements to tank partitions with increased strength and lighter weight and everything in between, NASA’s patents are ready for the public’s bright ideas on how they can be used for commercial products. I must admit that many of these patents are over my head, with the absence of a degree in engineering or biology I mostly stare blank faced at the screen and wish they had more pictures. However, they don’t all require a PhD from Cambridge to interpret. One patent is for a universal mounting system to secure objects to surfaces that aren’t flat. Another is an optical symbol reader with improved reading capabilities in less than optimal conditions, such as on curved surfaces and/or from a distance.

NASA plans on posting a total of 40 patents on Marblar’s site, and over the next year anybody can submit ides for these patents in the commercial sphere. By contributing ideas and comments you earn marbles, by the time the product is developed, your marbles will equate to a percentage of ownership. Marblar is built on the concept that inventing new ideas and turning them into reality is a difficult process. While one person has a good idea, they may not have the ability or capital to make it a reality. While another person may not have any good ideas, they have the technical ability or market knowledge to contribute. At the end of line are companies like Samsung that are in need of a few good ideas and are willing to dole out the expense of developing a successful idea. With ample public participation, we can only hope that this new venture will be a successful one, spreading the wonderful technology we all helped create.

Katie Nelson
Geospatial Ninja
(303) 718-7163

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