The iTech competition challenges entrepreneurs to consider how their biomedical, software and other technology ideas could be adapted and used for future space exploration missions in its third cycle.
The top ten will present their ideas at the iTech forum in Hartford, Connecticut, at the end of October. Chief technologists from various NASA centres, other US agencies and industry will assess the presentations.
“Our goal is to help entrepreneurs expand their technology pitches beyond the original scope to include off-Earth applications,” said Kira Blackwell the NASA iTech program executive for the Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD). “Some of our past competitors have gone a step further after iTech, applying for and receiving a NASA Small Business Innovation Research grant.”
One of these is Exostretch, a spinout from the University of Houston that is developing flexible and stretchable lithium ion batteries, while New Dominion Enterprises from San Antonio, Texas, is working on safer and longer lasting lithium ion batteries that resist heat-related power loss.
The US arm of the Danish Aerospace Company, also based in Houston, is developing a water purification technology that removes biological and chemical activity using a passive membrane, while Devali in Cedar Park, Texas, has technology for biometric analysis socks with user interfaces to track, monitor and study various body measurements.
Analytical Space in Cambridge, Massachusetts is developing a data relay network solution to dramatically expand the use of Earth observation technology and provide satellites with more opportunities to downlink data, while Artimus Robotics in Boulder, Colorado is working on robots and machines made with artificial muscles that use a unique materials system to create simple, lightweight and cost-effective electromechanical actuators.
Lazarus 3D is used 3D printed materials for space medicine training and research models. while Matroid has developed computer vision software product focused on detecting faces and objects in video and image libraries and Spectrabotics has developed an artificial intelligence toolset for spectral image processing.
The tenth competitor, One Milo in Miami, has developed compact devices that enable rapid diagnostic testing – using samples of blood, urine or saliva – and wirelessly send results to a smartphone app.
The top three will receive continued mentorship to help ensure success in bringing their innovations to market.