NASA Tech Auction Set

NASA Goddard Space Flight Center cut a deal with intellectual property auction firm Ocean Tomo to sell the licensing rights to a broad array of next-generation sensor and GPS technology. Included in the auction lots are the rights to the Hilbert-Huang Transform, a set of algorithms capable of analyzing time-varying processes and the 2006 winner of the Federal Laboratory Consortium for Technology Transfer excellence award.

Looking for some cool NASA Goddard Space Flight Center next gen technology? How about a new signal processing technology called the Hilbert-Huang Transform? Who couldn't use an autonomous, real-time, fully spaceflight-qualified GPS receiver?

All that and more will be auctioned for licensing Oct. 30 as part of a new partnership between NASA and the intellectual property house Ocean Tomo, marking the first time a federal laboratory has offered government-owned patents in a live auction.

"The Innovative Partnerships Program at Goddard is charged with helping identify novel arrangements, like this one with Ocean Tomo, to bring technologies to the marketplace quickly," Nona Cheeks, chief of NASA Goddard's IP office, said in a statement. "This is a perfect example of how we are working to find innovative partnering opportunities that expands the utilization of NASA technologies."

Cheeks said the arrangement offers several benefits to NASA including the ability to leverage Ocean Tomo's expertise in monetizing IP assets through the firm's live auction and other transaction platforms. Ocean Tomo, as you might imagine, is delighted with the opportunity.

"We are truly honored to partner with NASA - a wellspring of technological ingenuity and creativity," gushed Dean Becker, vice chairman of the auction house. "Given the agency's world-class reputation and historic technological achievements, it is not surprising that we have already received a significant number of inquiries and considerable interest in the lots.

The auction will feature three lots of NASA tech. In one lot are 11 patents relating to the Hilbert-Huang Transform, a new signal processing technology based on a set of algorithms capable of analyzing time-varying processes. Winner of the Federal Laboratory Consortium for Technology Transfer award excellence in 2006, the Hilbert-Huang Transform is likely to draw bidders interested in controls and automation, seismic exploration, reservoir imaging, geographical development and industrial manufacturing.

"These advanced techniques have broad applications for measuring, calibrating and testing physical signals, as well as processing, simulating and modeling data," the Ocean Tomo auction catalog states. "The breadth of these assets allows the inventions to be used in fields requiring acoustical analysis, simulating geophysical events or modeling dynamic systems."

A second auction lot focuses on six patents involving GPS receivers used in high and geostationary orbits. Currently, commercial GPS systems are limited to low earth orbits. The NASA technology increases the accuracy of independent altitude estimation for use in aerial vehicles as well as ground-based aiming and pointing applications.

According to Ocean Tomo, "Each [patent in the lot] makes a significant advancement in the field of global positioning and offers an opportunity to leverage the technology to reduce manufacturing expenses while increasing signal processing efficiencies."

Ocean Tomo expects the patents to draw interest from a number of industries including surveying, navigation, machine guidance, wireless platforms and telecommunications infrastructure.

The final NASA auction lot involves eight patents related to capacity sensing elements that can be used as a single unit or as a closely packed array to detect mass and motion. NASA expects the patents will be used in a variety of fields, including vehicle-mounted proximity sensors, automated manufacturing controls or three-dimensional imaging.