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Secure Phone and Elevator Speech
June 17, 2010   
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A secure telephone utilizing Personal Trusted Terminal (PTT) technology was the winning invention in the Polish part of the Pol-Nord Bridge project, a joint initiative by the Warsaw University of Technology and the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim.

The Personal Trusted Terminal is a device for authenticating a user on a remote server, and the invention is the work of Dr. Zbigniew Piotrowski from the Military University of Technology (WAT) in Warsaw. One of the university’s students, Jakub Rachoń, made the PTT presentation and also won the Elevator Speech Competition award for best presenter.

Polish-Norwegian initiative
The Pol-Nord Bridge project is mainly directed at young engineers who are interested in the commercial application of their own and others’ inventions. The project also targets law and economics students with an interest in intellectual property management.

The Elevator Speech Competition for presenters was held in March in Warsaw during the 3rd International Intellectual Property Management Forum, entitled The Key to a Successful Economy.

The Pol-Nord Bridge project involves two weeks of internships and workshops prior to the Elevator Speech Competition. Project participants, students and young engineers, learn the complex strategies for finding a commercial use for new ideas. These include product valuation, assessment of commercial viability, preparation of a business plan, and finding ways to sell the new product at a profit.

The Elevator Speech Competition, held in March this year, was the first stage of the Polish-Norwegian initiative. The competition entrants, postgraduate students of intellectual property management, were given 70 descriptions of intellectual property patents developed by various Polish research and development institutions. Each presentation lasted a minute, followed by a question and answer session and the jury’s assessment of a given patent’s commercial potential. The jury selected 16 patents from four sectors: health and medical services, consumer products, renewable energy, and industrial technology.

Commercially viable ideas
According to Krzysztof Łebkowski, chairman of the Association for Polish Consultants, the commercial viability of at least six of the selected patents is promising. The technology developed by WAT utilizing the Personal Trusted Terminal has a global application, Łebkowski says. Besides being of benefit to the military, it can be used in public telephony and internet telephony such as Skype.

Marek Dietl, investment director at the National Capital Fund and a lecturer at the Economics Faculty of the Warsaw School of Economics (SGH), says the PTT project is highly innovative. “It involves inscribing something like a watermark on a speech message so that it cannot be forged,” Dietl said.

The first of the proposed applications for the PTT project is for the military. For example, an order is given to fire a rocket, Dietl says. With the “watermark” in place, which identifies the source without any doubt, there would be no need to call back to ensure that the order came from the correct source. The whole military decision-making process would be better and faster. It is easy to think of other applications besides for the military, for example in online banking, Dietl says.

Other good, commercially viable ideas, according to Łebkowski, include a waterproof paint called styrozol made from Styrofoam waste and an innovative bicycle transmission.

Among the promising new technologies the jury also chose muscle-stimulating technology from the ŁódĽ University of Technology. It is designed for the rehabilitation of fingers and toes, particularly after breaks or other serious injuries. A special sock pulled over the hand or foot stimulates the muscles and massages them, removing the need for physical therapy. Another innovation of note is a diagnostic system for eye diseases using infrared radiation, which is less irritating to the eye than ordinary light used in current methods. And finally, the Institute of Natural Fibers and Medicinal Plants’ patent for “nanolignin” designed for use in protective materials against UV radiation. Commercial use for “nanolignin” would be mainly in very sunny countries such as Australia, says Łebkowski.

The National Capital Fund is a state-run organization that invests funds from the national budget in venture-capital funds, which in turn invest in the type of new ideas such as those chosen by the Pol-Nord Bridge jury.

“Of course, after just a 60-second presentation and a two-minute question and answer session it is difficult to realistically assess the economic potential of a project, and more analysis is required,” says Dietl.
Piotr Bartosz
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