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Space Institute Funds Adjustable-Rx Eyeglasses, Light-Therapy Sleep Mask

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The National Space Biomedical Research Institute has awarded matching grants to two small businesses developing light-based products for astronauts that also hold promise for consumer applications.

LumosTech Inc., a Stanford University startup, will develop a programmable mask that uses light therapy during sleep to adjust a person to a new time zone. The mask emits pulses of light while the user sleeps, adjusting the sleep cycle.

"Both astronauts and ground crew are often required to perform mission-critical tasks at times that are at odds with their normal sleep/wake cycle," said Vanessa Burns, a Stanford doctoral candidate and CEO of LumosTech. "This mask will enable them to shift their normal cycle to ensure that they are alert when needed."

The technology could also benefit international business travelers who must rapidly transition into different time zones by lessening the effects of jet lag.

Sarasota, Fla.-based eVision Smart Optics Inc. will develop electronic smart glasses that can change prescriptions as needed. Most astronauts experience vision changes during spaceflight, prompting NASA to identify the need to adjust eyeglass prescriptions in real time.

"Liquid crystal lenses can be reprogrammed electronically to adapt to an astronaut's changing vision," said Tony Van Heugten, chief technology officer of eVision Smart Optics. "Additionally, the lens can be programmed with far-, near- and midrange sections, or with all sections of the lens at a single focal length."

The National Space Biomedical Research Institute is a nonprofit organization partnered with NASA to study the health risks related to long-duration spaceflight, and to develop technologies and countermeasures needed for human space exploration missions. It is funding the development projects through its Space Medical and Related Technologies Commercialization Assistance Program.

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Jan 2016
adaptive optics
Optical components or assemblies whose performance is monitored and controlled so as to compensate for aberrations, static or dynamic perturbations such as thermal, mechanical and acoustical disturbances, or to adapt to changing conditions, needs or missions. The most familiar example is the "rubber mirror,'' whose surface shape, and thus reflective qualities, can be controlled by electromechanical means. See also active optics; phase conjugation.
BiophotonicsBusinesslensesopticsNASALumosTecheVision Smart OpticsTony Van HeugtenVanessa Burnsliquid crystal lensastronautStanford UniversityHoustonSarasotaFloridaTexasStanfordCaliforniaConsumeradaptive opticsRapidScan

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