New medical technologies can benefit astronauts in space and consumers on Earth
Two small companies developing state-of-the-art medical technologies have been selected to receive grants from the National Space Biomedical Research Institute (NSBRI). LumosTech, Inc. is a Stanford University-based startup company developing a programmable mask that uses light therapy during sleep to adjust a person to a new time-zone. eVision Smart Optics, Inc. of Sarasota, Florida is developing electronic smart glasses that can change eye prescriptions, as needed.
Most astronauts experience vision changes that result in decreased visual acuity during spaceflight. NASA needs the ability to adjust the prescription as needed in real-time. “Liquid crystal lenses can be re-programmed electronically to adapt to an astronaut’s changing vision. Additionally, the lens can be programmed with far, near & mid-range sections, or with all sections of the lens at a single focal length,” said Tony Van Heugten, Chief Technology Officer of eVision Smart Optics.
LumosTech is developing a smart sleep mask that emits pulses of light while the user sleeps, adjusting the user’s 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. This mask will enable them to shift their normal cycle to ensure that they are alert when needed,” said Vanessa Burns, CEO of LumosTech. This technology could also benefit international business travelers that must rapidly transition into different time zones. By using this sleep mask, travelers may be able to lessen the effects of jet lag and preserve their ability to perform.
“LumosTech and eVision Smart Optics are advancing new approaches to solve real problems experienced by astronauts as well as people on Earth. Our job is to accelerate promising technologies by providing seed funding and direction,” said Dorit Donoviel, Ph.D., NSBRI Deputy Chief Scientist and Industry Forum Lead.
Funding is provided through the Space Medical and Related Technologies Commercialization Assistance Program (SMARTCAP), administered by NSBRI’s Industry Forum. “SMARTCAP offers grants that help small companies broaden the reach of their products, open new market opportunities, and simultaneously address the significant challenges faced by humans living and working in space.”
Additional information regarding the current SMARTCAP opportunity, BioSHIELD 4 MARS, which focuses on products that can protect healthy tissues from radiation is located at www.smartcap.org . Grant recipients must secure a 100-percent match in funding. This leveraging of federal funding actively fosters public-private collaborations and partnerships.
NSBRI, a 501(c)(3) organization partnered with NASA, is studying the health risks related to long-duration spaceflight and developing the technologies and countermeasures needed for human space exploration missions. The Institute’s science, technology and career development projects take place at approximately 60 institutions, distributed across the United States. NSBRI was established by Cooperative Agreement NCC 9-58 awarded by NASA Johnson Space Center (JSC) to Baylor College of Medicine (BCM). For more information, please visit www.nsbri.org. NSBRI’s Industry Forum engages the private sector to develop medical products for both space and Earth through commercialization activities and seed funding. Find out more at www.NSBRIforum.org and follow the NSBRI Industry Forum on Twitter and Facebook.
Graham B.I. Scott, Ph.D.
Vice President, Chief Scientist & Institute Associate Director
National Space Biomedical Research Institute (NSBRI)