Recently, NASA and SpaceX made history by launching the first commercially made spacecraft from American soil. 

It is no secret that NASA and other space exploration organisations have been pivotal in developing some commonly used items today, such as baby formula, cameras on mobile phones and athletic shoes. Using PatBase, the searchable patent database created by Minesoft and RWS, we can take a deep dive into NASA’s patent portfolio to unearth other surprising patents that are assigned to them. 

With coverage across 106 jurisdictions, 74 of which offer full text collections, PatBase is one of the leading tools for patent searching. The patent information included in this article was found by doing an Assignee search of global patents and browsing through the results using a custom result view on PatBase.  

Three-dimensional hologram display system (US6195184B)

Developed by inventors at California Institute of Technology, this hologram display system projects 4 separate holograms into an aerogel mix, making a static 3D image appear that can be viewed from all angles in x,y,z plains. According to the technical details in the patent document, this invention is designed to “enhance the ability of commanders and their support staff to understand and exchange command and control information; particularly with respect to Battlefield Visualization.” Battlefield visualisation in space? If that sounds familiar, that may be because the popular franchise Star Wars is well associated with holographic displays in space.  

Liquid cooled brassiere and method of diagnosing malignant tumors therewith (US3995621A)

This device improves the detection of malignant tissue that could develop into breast cancer. This brassier-like garment is fitted with a pair of liquid cooling panels which completely cover the upper torso. A fluid pump is connected by a tube to the garment. The temperature detector embedded in the garment identifies areas of tissue that do not react to the coolant like the surrounding skin, an indicator of a tumour which would typically have more warm blood flowing to it. 

Retinally stabilized differential resolution television display (US4513317A)

This invention is described as “a remote television apparatus which utilizes the variable resolution properties of the human eye to reduce the bandwidth requirements of the system”. An eye-tracking camera transmits data to the television control, adapting the display to mimic the focused or peripheral view of the human eye by showing the area of the screen focused on in high-resolution and the rest in lower resolution. This was developed by Novo Nordisk. 

Prosthesis coupling (US4158895A)

This NASA patent discloses an invention for connecting a prosthetic limb to an amputated to limb. The way the connector is designed allows the prosthesis connector float so that the skin is not disturbed or stressed by changes in the position of the body or prosthesis.    

Passive foetal heart monitoring system (US2002068874A)

This patent describes a non-invasive method of monitoring foetal heart rate. Regardless of the position of the foetus, whether against the maternal abdominal surface or not, this method can still detect acoustic signals from the smaller heart. According to the patent description, this was a limitation of previous inventions designed for the same purpose  


All of the patents mentioned in this article (and some extra NASA patents!) are available to view here, in this sharable PatBase folder:
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Integrated tools in PatBase can also be used to add more depth to landscape research, such as PatBase Analytics. 

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