There are a lot of tech gadgets that have their origins rooted in space technology. These tech gadgets were first developed for use in space. The space exploration program has led to the invention of a lot of tech gadgets and some of them have become available and very useful to the public. Since the 1960s, these tech gadgets have started becoming things that people use in their day-to-day life. Some of the tech gadgets that have their origin rooted in space technology include;
1. MOBILE PHONE CAMERAS
The origin of the cameras in mobile phones can be partially traced back to the work of the NASA/JPL scientist Eric Fossum. This scientist’s work was focused on the miniaturization of cameras for space missions. This is done in order to provide astronauts a way to capture high-quality digital images of space to use as evidence without using heavy pieces of equipment. The scientist then developed complementary metal oxide semiconductor (CMOS) image sensors that have now become very popular in mobile phone cameras today. Before this, there have been a lot of attempts to make imaging devices using CMOS, but none turned out successful like this one.
The NASA scientists make use of Charge Coupled Device (CCD) technology to aid the quality improvement of the image. Different space agencies often put this imaging technology on their spacecraft to capture high-quality images of space missions. This technology has now become very widely used in the digital imaging industry and smartphone cameras. In present times, even the cheapest of smartphones now use a great imaging technology. Some people now prefer to take pictures on the phone more than they make calls. And according to studies, about one in three cell phone cameras often use the imaging technology initially developed for the space program.
2. ARTIFICIAL LIMBS
The space program is also responsible for major advancements in the field of robotics as a result of its mission to improve its remotely controlled spacecraft. This mission has been modified to successfully create more efficient artificial limbs. Space agencies have been investing a lot in the field of prosthetics and artificial limbs, and this has led to their development of robotic probes which are used to collect samples on space missions.
The investment of space agencies in artificial limbs has led to the development of many great things like cushioning and shock absorbing. The advancements brought by space technology have resulted in improvement in the field of prosthetics and artificial limbs for humans and animals. Space agencies working with other corporations have also been able to develop other advancements like artificial muscle system, sensors actuators that have been integrated into artificial limbs.
The memory foam developed for space missions has also been used to make artificial limbs look more natural, reduce friction and decrease heat and moisture buildup.
3. MEMORY FOAM
The memory foam is a type of foam that molds to the shape of a warm body. It is often made with polyurethane based foam. This foam was originally invented by NASA in 1966 to improve the safety of spacecraft cushions. However, in recent times, this invention has been turned into mattresses and it is also used in medical settings when it is required that the patient lie still for a long period of time to reduce the possibility of pressure sores. It is also widely used in shoes and football helmets.
4. WATER PURIFIER
In the 1970s, NASA engineers were looking for a way to provide astronauts with a ready supply of drinking water and they started working with commercial companies. This resulted in the invention of water filtration systems that make use of cartridge and iodine to turn wastewater from urine, respiration, and sweat to drinking water for astronauts in space. This technology is widely used in the International Space Station (ISS). However, in present times, it is now being used in underdeveloped parts of the world that their water is contaminated to filter it and turn it into drinking water.
5. SCRATCH RESISTANT LENSES
Scratch-resistant lenses were invented by NASA scientists in the AMES Research Center in cooperation with the Foster Grant Corporation. Before this, lenses were often made of ground and polished glass. In 1972 when the FDA passed a regulation that requires all sunglasses and prescription lenses to be made shatter resistant. This is why manufacturers decided to use the plastic lenses developed by NASA instead of the glass lenses. However, as good as plastic lenses are, they were prone to scratches.
This is why NASA scientists developed scratch-resistant lenses for astronaut helmets and other plastic aerospace equipment. NASA then awarded a license to Foster Grant to further make and manufacture scratch resistant plastics. The NASA scientists and Foster Grant combined their researches and manufacture the technology for public use. In present times, prescription lenses, safety lenses and sunglasses are now made from scratch resistant plastics.
6. INVISIBLE BRACES
The invisible braces were invented by NASA Advanced Ceramics Research Program incorporation with Ceradyne. Although it has a kind application, it was initially developed for use in military technology. Ceradyne was trying to find a material that can be used in infrared radomes to track heat-seeking missiles. These radomes are simply structures that guard radar equipment that needs to be as transparent as possible for radar energy to pass through it. These braces are now used in present times to correct people smiles.
7. ADJUSTABLE SMOKE DETECTORS
One of the most important factors to consider for the safety of astronauts is smoke detection. This is essential to detect early symptoms of fire. This is the main reason why NASA decided to invent a smoke detector that can be adjusted to various levels of sensitivity to prevent false alarms in the 1970s. This invention resulted in the development of the smoke detectors used in present times.
8. SATELLITE TV
Before the time when astronauts were sent to space, unmanned satellites were sent on test flights to transmit data to Earth. This technology gadget has now become a vital part of people’s daily lives, enabling long-distance communication through 200 odd satellites that are orbiting the Earth every day presently.
9. SPACE BLANKETS
These are lightweight silver blankets that were invented in 1964 by Space agencies that are looking for a way to allow the astronauts to retain heat in space. Just like reflecting infrared radiation, they enable people to retain heat and are now used in modern first aid kits to treat hypothermia and shock.
10. CORDLESS VACUUM CLEANERS
During the preparation for the Apollo moon missions, NASA required a portable, self-contained drill to collect core samples from the surface of the moon. The Black and Decker Company then developed a computer program to enhance the design of the drill’s motor to make sure its power consumption is reduced. Since 1979, this computer was then used to design its cordless vacuum cleaner, known as the Dustbuster, which has been purchased about 100 million units.
11. MODEL ROCKETS
Although, you can say that the origin of model rockets is not rooted in space technology, it kind of is. Model rockets are simply small rockets that are designed to reach low altitude and return to the ground using different methods of recovery. These model rockets are capable of reaching low altitudes in the sky like 330 to 1640ft (100 to 500m) when they have a weight of about 30g. So, since model rockets are often developed with similar design to actual rockets, it is not farfetched to say that the launch of actual rockets actually inspired the invention of model rockets.
12. WIRELESS HEADPHONES
The origin of wireless headphones can also be traced to space technology. Space agencies were looking for a way to efficiently communicate with their astronauts in space, so they developed wireless headphones. One of the most widely known examples of this is when millions of people on Earth heard the astronaut Neil Armstrong’s famous word when he was taking his first step on the moon in July 1969. The method used by Neil Armstrong to communicate this message is with the aid of headsets. In recent times, wireless headphones are used by the public for different communication and entertainment purposes like receiving a call and listening to music. It is also used by space agencies to communicate with astronauts in space.
GPS was invented after the launch of the first satellite, Sputnik 1 when scientists were looking for a way to track the satellite in space. Some scientists then found a way to use the Doppler Effect to track the satellite with shifts in radio signals. In recent times, various governments are now using GPS to track space based activities, missiles and other things. GPS technology are now embedded in other technologies like car, phones, ships and aircraft
14. WIRELESS SPEAKER DAMPERS
In the early 1960s at the start of the space program, one major problems faced by NASA scientists was determining a way to move rocket fuel into engines in space without using gravity to guide the flow. The scientists then developed the ferrofluid which was a fluid used as an additive and infused with magnetite particles that enable them to manipulate it with a magnetic field. This fluid is now used by corporations to control parts in things like racecar suspensions and hard drives.
Also, Sony Corporation then decided to integrate the ferrofluid technology in a series of slim speakers in an in-house research. This integration has now enabled the company to produce speakers that generate louder and cleaner sounds as compared to other speakers of similar size. The key components used are the micron-deep pool of ferrofluid that is used as a damper. This damper was used to make sure that the spring does not tremble and the diaphragm does not extend too much.
15. EMBEDDED WEB TECHNOLOGY LED TO THE DEVELOPMENT OF IOT
The Embedded web technology was initially developed by NASA to enable astronauts to perform and keep an eye on experiments on the International Space Station remotely over the internet. This technology was later released to the public which led to the development of the Internet of Things technology (IOT). In recent times, a lot of corporations are using the principle of embedded web technology to deliver over the internet control and management of devices. This technology has led to advancement in the design of devices like smart oven, smart light bulbs, smart locks, smart thermostat and so on.