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The Warsaw Voice » Other » September 16, 2009
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Innovation on Display
September 16, 2009   
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A flying robot controlled by head movements that makes Full-HD movies, an infrared terminal that identifies people from the pattern of their veins, an intelligent pen to combat dyslexia, systems for controlling computers with the eyes and lips, a device for keeping the water in your swimming pool clean, bulletproof vests, ultra-sensitive cameras for astronomy-all these innovative products and technologies were on display at the Science for the Economy Show in Poznań in June. The show was part of the Innovations, Technologies, Machines Poland 2009 trade fair.

The fair attracted more than 1,000 exhibitors and 20,000 visitors. The Science for the Economy Show featured the achievements and research potential of Polish applied sciences. The show, held regularly as part of the ITM fair, aims to bring science closer to industry and facilitate business contacts, fostering the transfer of research results to business.

Innovative technologies that modernize production processes and reduce costs are the best investment at a time of crisis, experts say. This year, 20 exhibitors, mainly research and development centers, schools of higher education and institutions that support innovation, showcased more than 60 technological innovations.

The West Pomeranian University of Technology from Szczecin showed its innovative OCEAN control system for CNC machine tools. The robotics and mechatronics faculty of the AGH University of Science and Technology in Cracow, together with the Unihut company, showcased designs such as unmanned aircraft that can lift off and land by themselves and fly along a pre-defined route based on their onboard GPS navigation system. The aircraft are equipped with a video platform that was unveiled at the same time. The camera can be controlled manually or automatically through the head movements of a person wearing virtual glasses.

Mobile robots designed by the AGH University of Science and Technology can autonomously transport components in a production hall, mapping their own routes and communicating with one another during operation. They can be used for the unmanned transport of parts or for drawing a map and gathering information about an area that is in some way hazardous to humans. "Their future also includes working in outer space," says the university's Dr. Tomasz Buratowski.

The robotics and mechatronics faculty's stand at the fair also featured a parallel robot that consists of two parts. The macrorobot positions the camera and the microrobot. The microrobot's movement range is just a few millimeters, but the manipulators' motion precision is high. They can be used to perform operations on cells, such as piercing the cell wall and inserting material into the cell, for example. The AGH University of Science and Technology won a gold medal for its cell-operation robot.

Show us your veins
The Institute of Mathematical Machines exhibited its IMMVein terminal for infrared identification of people by the pattern of the veins on their hands, which is unique for each individual. Unlike fingerprints, vein patterns are difficult to forge because they do not leave their trace anywhere. The pattern does not change as the person grows. The left hand is different from the right, and even identical twins have different vein patterns even though they can have identical fingerprints. A few percent of the population cannot be registered with popular fingerprint-based systems because they have damaged fingers, psoriasis, or their skin is in poor condition.

Computer controlled by the lips
Scientists from the Gdańsk University of Technology's Department of Electronics, Telecommunications and Informatics showcased an "intelligent pen" for dyslectics and a computer controlled by eye and lip movements.

The "eye-tracker" uses torches emitting infrared light and an internet camera. The system tracks the reflections of the light in the pupils. Based on geometric calculations, the device identifies where the person is looking. The algorithms work for both bright and dark pupil tracking.

The applications for this invention are not limited to helping disabled people. It can also be used in marketing research, at schools and by psychological counseling services where it is important to be able to tell if children do not do well due to some problem or defect, or because they are not concentrated during a test and are looking somewhere else. The system will be five times cheaper than those available on the market today, the designers say.

The Gdańsk University of Technology's Faculty of Electronics, Telecommunications and Informatics has developed telemedicine, a branch of technology that employs the internet to diagnose hearing, visual and speech impairments. The faculty has also designed an artificial larynx for patients who have had their larynx removed. A digital signal processor used in the artificial larynx radically improves the quality of sound produced by the device.

One of the faculty's most remarkable inventions is the Ustomysz (Lip Mouse) Computer Multimedia Interface, a system designed for those who, due to paralysis and other disorders, are unable to use the computer in the traditional way. The interface enables such users to control a computer with head movements and facial expressions. It is the only such device in the world.

The Lip Mouse device uses a typical internet camera to analyze images of the user's head. When a person opens their mouth, sticks out their tongue or purses their lips, this can be configured with any function of a computer mouse in accordance with the user's preferences. The scientists from the Gdańsk University of Technology have supplemented this invention with an application-a communicator allowing a paralyzed person to request food, drink or help. A speech synthesizer is part of the system.

Tachographs with a difference
The Industrial Research Institute for Automation and Measurements (PIAP) showed tachographs, or systems that record the parameters of aircraft and trains. The PIAP's tachographs have won a special mention in the Teraz Polska (Poland Now) competition. An electronic tachograph records all data related to a vehicle's journey: distance, speed, time and all the activities undertaken by the driver. The data are stored in an electronic memory chip that can be read on a PC after the journey. The designers have developed special PC software for displaying, presenting and archiving data. Buyers of the tachograph receive the software as part of the package.

The Polish tachograph is competitive in terms of price compared with similar projects developed in other countries. It can be up to 30 percent cheaper than its Western counterparts while meeting all the requirements set down by European law.

Other wonders
The University of Warsaw, together with the Creotech company, unveiled a system for the sanitary control of swimming pools. The system monitors physicochemical parameters important in pool maintenance.

The Institute of Electronic Materials Technology (ITME) from Warsaw displayed its cutting-edge laser technology that has been applied in business. Modern technology allows scientists to build heavy-duty lasers that are more energy-efficient than traditional lasers. Their miniaturization is also more advanced, enabling them to be used in robots, for example as operating heads. "A laser beam can weld together various materials, bond plastics, cut and form different shapes and even engrave portraits," says the ITME's Tadeusz Żero.

Experts from the Institute of Nuclear Chemistry and Technology in Warsaw exhibited a system designed to treat waste gases from power plants with an accelerated electron beam and produce fertilizers at the same time. The technology has been used on an industrial scale for the past seven years at the Pomorzany power and heat generation plant in Szczecin. This industrial research project was built under a contract between the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna and the Japanese and Polish governments.

In another project, the institute's station in Warsaw sterilizes foodstuffs and medicines using safe radiation. Food subjected to this process retains its nutritional value, and the technology is safe, non-toxic and bactericidal, experts say.

The Institute of Mechanized Construction and Rock Mining showcased an ultra-fast innovative two-die riveting head. The Moratex Institute of Security Technology exhibited its advanced bulletproof vest for police officers, and the Metal Forming Institute exhibited a machine for making road signs.

Innovative products were also on display at the stand of the Institute for Sustainable Technologies/National Research Institute, the Komag Institute of Mining Technology, the Tele and Radio Research Institute, the Technical University of ŁódĽ, the Poznań University of Technology, and the Construction Equipment Research Institute.

The list of winners of Poznań International Fair Gold Medals for the transfer of research results to business also included the Institute of Precision Mechanics for its technology of precision gas nitriding; the Metal Forming Institute for its technology for forming rings for elastic shock absorbers; the Institute of Non-Ferrous Metals for its method to produce high-quality lead-acid batteries and new ecological copper alloys; the Industrial Institute of Agricultural Engineering and the Institute of Chemical Technology and Engineering of the Poznań University of Technology for their technology for obtaining engine fuel from vegetable oils.
Piotr Bartosz
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