Inventions build on Draper’s leadership in biomedicine and remote sensing
CAMBRIDGE, MA—Patents recognize innovation and as a result can lead to all kinds of inventions. At Draper, a handful of recent examples shows just how far a good idea will go in a range of applications—like restoring a sense of touch to an amputee with a prosthetic hand. Or building a tiny biocompatible scaffold to regenerate a severed nerve. Or devising an early warning system that can sense the smallest change to a pipe, beam and ocean vessel hull, and potentially prevent an oil spill, building collapse or ship’s sinking.
These breakthroughs, all developed by Draper engineers and scientists, earned top honors at the Boston Patent Law Association’s annual review of the best patents in New England in 2017. Of the 52 final nominees, 12 were selected as honorees and four as Top Honorees. Approximately 50 people attended the event on Oct. 23, 2017, in Boston.
Draper’s Dr. Almir Davis was named among the four Top Honorees for a remote sensing technology that can sense corrosion and erosion in oil and gas pipelines more accurately and with less effort than before. Since pipeline corridors travel through mountains, forests, wetlands and urban areas, Davis’s sensor and wireless sensor network, branded by Draper as WiSense, has the potential of preventing oil spill disasters while saving time, money and resources when deployed.
In accepting the award, Davis credited the company’s work environment and his colleagues. “Draper is as an innovative workplace, with highly capable and creative colleagues, where we can solve the hard problems. It’s an honor to compete for the highest science and technology honors, such as the Invented Here! award.” Joining Davis as fellow inventors on the patent were Draper engineers Philip Babcock, Richard Berthold, Donald Gustafson and William Trinkle.
In addition to Davis’s honor, the BPLA awarded Draper with two awards in neurotechnology. Anilkumar Achyuta, James Hsiao and Bryan McLaughlin earned an award for a patent describing a novel approach to interfacing with a nerve that can help restore a sense of touch. Their second award, also in neurotechnology, describes a way to regenerate a severed nerve. Achyuta was awarded honoree status for both innovations.
The Boston Patent Law Association, established in 1924, is one of this country’s oldest associations of intellectual property lawyers and professionals. The BPLA’s Invented Here! award highlights inventions made by New England inventors or New England companies.
Draper develops precision instrumentation systems that exceed the state-of-the-art in key parameters (input range, accuracy, stability, bandwidth, ruggedness, etc.) that are designed specifically to operate in our sponsor’s most challenging environments (high shock, high temperature, radiation, etc.). As a recognized leader in the development and application of precision instrumentation solutions for platforms ranging from missiles to people to micro-Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), Draper finds or develops state-of-the-art components (gyros, accelerometers, magnetometers, precision clocks, optical systems, etc.) that meet the demanding size, weight, power and cost needs of our sponsors and applies extensive system design capabilities consisting of modeling, mechanical and electrical design, packaging and development-level testing to realize instrumentation solutions that meet these critical and demanding needs.
Draper has designed and developed microelectronic components and systems going back to the mid-1980s. Our integrated, ultra-high density (iUHD) modules of heterogeneous components feature system functionality in the smallest form factor possible through integration of commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) technology with Draper-developed custom packaging and interconnect technology. Draper continues to pioneer custom Microelectromechanical Systems (MEMS), Application-Specific Integrated Circuits (ASICs) and custom radio frequency components for both commercial (microfluidic platforms organ assist, drug development, etc.) and government (miniaturized data collection, new sensors, Micro-sats, etc.) applications. Draper features a complete in-house iUHD and MEMS fabrication capability and has existing relationships with many other MEMS and microelectronics fabrication facilities.
Draper combines specific domain expertise and knowledge of how to apply the latest analytics techniques to extract meaningful information from raw data to better understand complex, dynamic processes. Our system design approach encompasses effective organization and processing of large data sets, automated analysis using algorithms and exploitation of results. To facilitate user interaction with these processed data sets, Draper applies advanced techniques to automate understanding and correlation of patterns in the data. Draper’s expertise encompasses machine learning (including deep learning), information fusion from diverse and heterogeneous data sources, optimized coupling of data acquisition and analysis and novel methods for analysis of imagery and video data.
Draper’s Biomedical Solutions capability centers on the application of microsystems, miniaturized electronics, computational modeling, algorithm development and image and data analytics applied to a range of challenges in healthcare and related fields. Draper fills that critical engineering niche that is required to take research or critical requirements and prototype or manufacture realizable solutions. Some specific examples are MEMS, microfluidics and nanostructuring applied to the development of wearable and implantable medical devices, organ-assist devices and drug-delivery systems. Novel neural interfaces for prosthetics and for treatment of neurological conditions are being realized through a combination of integrated miniaturized electronics and microfabrication technologies.
Draper continues to develop its expertise in designing, characterizing and processing materials at the macro-, micro- and nanoscales. Understanding the physical properties and behaviors of materials at these various scales is vital to exploit them successfully in designing components or systems. This enables the development and integration of biomaterials, 3D printing and additive manufacturing, wafer fabrication, chemical and electrochemical materials and structural materials for application to system-level solutions required of government and commercial sponsors.