June 10, 2011
Top APL Inventions Clear Arteries, Camouflage Communications
The Winners of APL’s 2010 Invention of the Year and Government Purpose Innovation Awards Are Named
One winning idea was brought to APL by Chao-Wei Hwang, a cardiology fellow at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, who sought the Laboratory’s skills in microfabrication; inspiration for the other began in John Klimek’s backyard as he listened to the sounds of bugs and birds.
APL’s 2010 Invention of the Year was awarded to “Implantable Pressure-Actuated Drug-Delivery Systems,” by Jason Benkoski, George Coles Jr., Hwang, Robert Matteson III, Jon Resar, Hala Tomey, and Morgana Trexler. The Government Purpose Innovation Award, new this year, went to Klimek for “Naturally Occurring Indigenous Sound Emulation (NOISE).”
These winners were selected from 155 inventions disclosed at APL during the past calendar year, filed by more than 280 inventors. The Invention of the Year winner was chosen by an outside review panel of 30 representatives from industry, the high-tech sector, and patent law. The Government Purpose Innovation Award, intended to recognize an invention that has the potential to make a major impact within APL’s sponsor community, was selected by an internal panel.
The winners were named at the 12th annual Invention of the Year Award reception, held May 10. Attendees included APL Director Ralph Semmel and representatives from state and local offices and agencies. APL Assistant Director for Science and Technology Jerry Krill and Office of Technology Transfer Supervisor Norma Lee Todd addressed the inventors and guests, and presented trophies and cash awards to the top inventors.
The Invention of the Year will provide better treatment for atherosclerosis, a common, chronic condition in which fatty materials collect and harden in arteries. Stents are often used to reopen clogged arteries but can create new issues such as re-blocking the artery; the invention adds a microchip to the stent that can both detect and immediately treat changes in blood pressure. Hwang approached APL’s Milton Eisenhower Research Center (MERC) for its expertise in microfabrication techniques, and he and the MERC team joined with APL’s Technical Services Department to create the prototype microchips.
Klimek’s award-winning idea, NOISE, was born in the summer of 2003. “I first thought of this project when I was sitting outside one day,” says Klimek, who also works in MERC, “and listening to the bugs and the birds communicating using their unique noises. That’s what gave me the idea to pursue using natural sounds for communication.”
In 2009, he began research into the project, which uses modified sounds identical to those made by the native species—birds, insects, small mammals—of a specific operational area. These sounds can be used to create an ad hoc communication network of nodes that covertly record and report data on activity within the sensor network.
“These two award-winning inventions really demonstrate the spectrum of curiosity and capability that APL’s staff is renowned for,” says Todd. “In addition to the winners, each of this year’s nominees possesses tremendous potential to have a commercial impact or make a critical contribution to our national security.”