A Bright Idea
Utah Universities Give More than Education to the State
By Candace M. Little
August 10, 2009
Utah is known for some pretty neat inventions, and the universities here are doing their part to continue putting Utah on the map of inventions. The University of Utah (U of U), Brigham Young University (BYU) and Utah State University (USU) all have departments set aside for taking technologies and inventions created at the university and bringing them to the outside world for consumers to use and companies to own. Though the economy has slowed, Utah universities have stayed busy, creating inventions the strength of diamonds, car keys that save lives and even a bit of real-life fairy tale magic.
With green initiatives pushing paperless as the new norm, and the convenience of electronically stored information, data storage is huge. Even The Library of Congress is pushing for data storage that will last centuries. Well, M-ARC™ Disc by Millenniata may be the solution. A normal DVD will only last a few years, as threats like low energy burning, heat and humidity disrupt the storage process. M-ARC™ Disc is almost as strong as diamonds, providing a permanent form of storage. Millenniata, a Springville company, is using this BYU technology to etch itself into a $25 billion a year industry.
Twenty-one percent of fatal teenage car crashes are the result of cell phone usage. Recent laws have been passed to prevent texting while driving, but will teens be able to resist? Key2SafeDriving™ solution is a car key and cell phone software team that makes it impossible for teens (or any distracted driver) to text or talk on their cell phones while driving (also making it possible for parents to relax). With this U of U invention, your teen daughter’s incoming calls will be rerouted to voicemail and when her boyfriend sends a text, he automatically gets one back saying she’ll reply once she has safely reached her destination.
Nobody likes road construction—and if it could be done for less time and less money, no one would object—especially InteliSum, a company that sells the InteliCamera that, in one of its first uses, helped cut down construction time by five months and saved $4 million. How does a camera do this? It captures 3-D images of objects, using lidar (a technology similar to radar that uses light instead of radio waves). Lidar produces points and the camera connects them, creating a virtual model. The InteliCamera, invented by USU engineers, was used on a bridge replacement project where its 3-D images of the old bridge were used to build a new bridge completely offsite, to the exact specifications needed.
In a nutshell, it’s the new and improved Gore Tex. Hydrapel™ is a hydrophobic (water repelling) coating Xeromax Sciences, a Utah research and development company, will soon be using to protect clothing worn by sportsmen, firemen and the United States Military. Instead of applying the coating like a glue or wax covering, Hydrapel™ is a nanocoating that covalently bonds to cloth fibers. This allows longer-lasting water resistance and lets the cloth breathe, providing the user more comfort. Look for Hydrapel™ on some major outdoor clothing brands in the near future. This BYU technology can also be applied to hearing aids, electronics like MP3 players and medical devices for water protection.
Everyone is into high-definition and 3-D these days—even the Petri dish growers. U of U inventors of Glycosan have done for lab cell cultures what HD TV did for the Superbowl (did we really want to see every detail?). The answer from Glycosan Biosystems lab anyway, is yes. Traditional cell cultures grow flat, but with Glycosan the growth becomes 3-D and cells grow as they would naturally. Scientists can then better see how cells interact and develop. In particular, 3-D cultures help in localization and survivability of transplanted cells, a ground-breaking tool for stem cell research. Or in Superbowl terms—touchdown!