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NASA Patents Going, Going...
Sep 2008
CHICAGO, Sept. 11, 2008 -- Sensing, global positioning and computer systems technologies developed at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center will be sold to the highest bidder on Oct. 30 in Chicago, marking the first time a federal laboratory has participated in a live intellectual property (IP) auction.

NASA's participation in the auction is the result of a new partnership with Ocean Tomo, a intellectual capital Merchant Banc® firm, which is organizing the event at the Chicago Cultural Center through its auctions arm. The aim of the partnership is to maximize the value of Goddard’s inventions to the country by facilitating transfer of over 40 technologies to the private sector for commercial application.

"The Innovative Partnerships Program Office at Goddard is charged with helping identify novel arrangements, like this one with Ocean Tomo, to bring technologies to the marketplace quickly," said Nona Cheeks, chief of NASA Goddard's IPP Office. "This is a perfect example of how we are working to find innovative partnering opportunities that expand the utilization of NASA technologies."

The government-owned patents are available in three lots, 56, 57 and 58, with opening bids of $50,000 or $75,000. Dean Becker, Ocean Tomo's vice chairman, said the company has already received a significant number of inquiries and considerable interest in the Goddard lots.

"While both NASA and Ocean Tomo stand to benefit from the agreement, the ultimate beneficiary," said Cheeks, "is the taxpayer."

Lot 56 includes 10 patents relating to a new signal processing technology called the Hilbert-Huang Transform (HHT). The technology is a highly efficient, adaptive and user-friendly set of algorithms capable of analyzing time-varying processes. Designed specifically for nonlinear and nonstationary signals, HHT can be used for measuring, calibrating and testing physical signals, as well as processing, simulating and modeling data in applications including controls and automation, seismic exploration, reservoir imaging, geographical development and industrial manufacturing.

The technologies disclosed in the six patents offered as Lot 57 are a leap forward for Global Positioning System (GPS) technology, according to Ocean Tomo's auction catalog. Until now, GPS receivers, while providing an accurate and inexpensive means of navigation, have been limited to low Earth orbit (LEO) missions. The technologies in the Goddard patents provide autonomous, real-time, fully spaceflight-qualified GPS receivers with capabilities for fast signal acquisition and weak signal tracking that can be used in high and geostationary orbits.

The technology also increases the accuracy of independent attitude estimation for use in aerial vehicles as well as ground-based aiming and pointing applications. Ocean Tomo expects the technology to be of interest to companies in the fields of surveying, navigation, machine guidance, wireless platforms, telecommunication infrastructure and homeland security.

The capacitive sensing technology offered in Lot 58 includes seven patents for capacity sensing elements that can be used as a single unit or as a closely packed array. The sensors are capable of sensing another object's position and measuring its rate of change, which could be used in industrial process control applications. The technology can also be used to detect motion in safety, security and process monitoring applications, such as in vehicle-mounted proximity sensors.

Lot 58 also contains related technologies, including 3-D imaging and improved digital response technologies that could be of interest in a number of industries, including automotive, heavy machinery, telemetering, as well as automated docking and controls, among others, Ocean Tomo said.

For more detailed descriptions of the NASA lots and a list of specific patent assets, visit:

To register to attend or bid, call (312) 377-4851; e-mail or visit:

The technology of generating and harnessing light and other forms of radiant energy whose quantum unit is the photon. The science includes light emission, transmission, deflection, amplification and detection by optical components and instruments, lasers and other light sources, fiber optics, electro-optical instrumentation, related hardware and electronics, and sophisticated systems. The range of applications of photonics extends from energy generation to detection to communications and...
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