University of Maryland Newsdesk.www.newsdesk.umd.edu
For Immediate Release
Best UM Inventions: Lyme Disease Marker, Speech Enhancing Algorithm, New Battery Tech
By Ann DeLorenzo
COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- The University of Maryland's Office of Technology Commercialization (OTC) sees about one new invention disclosure every three days; in 2009 alone, 133 inventions were submitted to the office. With so much innovation occurring within the university, OTC's Inventions of the Year selection process gets harder to deliberate and more competitive each year.
This year a field of 133 inventions first was narrowed to nine finalists, three each in the categories of information, life, and physical sciences. Next, off and on-campus judges voted for a winner in each of these categories, based on the creativity, novelty, and potential benefit to society of each invention. Finally, the winners -- a new marker for Lyme disease, an algorithm to enhance the clarity of speech by reducing background noise, and high-density electricity storage cells that could improve batteries tenfold -- were announced on Tuesday, April 13th, at a closed reception at the UM Golf Course Club House Banquet Room.
Utpal Pal and Adam Coleman's winning invention, "Genetic Markers for Improved Lyme Disease Diagnostics," contributes key information to the long-studied problem of detecting Lyme disease in humans and other mammals. Although it is the most common vector-borne illness in the United States - with over 28,000 cases reported in 2008, most in the mid-Atlantic and New England regions - scientists have not yet developed a test that reliably detects its presence. This new breakthrough in the genetic design of Lyme disease pathogen Borrelia burgdorferi promises to greatly improve the efficacy of diagnostic tests and help to differentiate between different strains of the disease. Pal and Coleman are currently collaborating with an international commercial organization to optimize the test.
Carol Espy-Wilson and Srikanth Vishnubhotla's "Multi-Pitch Tracking in Adverse Environments" addresses a problem that sounds familiar to anyone who has used a cell phone in a public place: background noise. The novel algorithm "cleans up" speech by separating the voices of the primary speakers from their noisy environments. Espy-Wilson plans to develop the technology through her start-up company OmniSpeech. In addition to its cell phone application, the technology can be used to improve sound quality in hearing aids, military sniper and subject identification, and teleconferencing.
"Nano Arrays for Energy Storage," invented by Gary Rubloff, Sang Bok Lee, Israel Perez, Laurent Lecordier, and Parag Banerjee, offers high-density energy storage for vehicle and electronic device batteries. The arrays have a capacity that is ten times higher than available products and can be produced using inexpensive materials. Rubloff and Lee plan to start a company to bring the nano arrays to market. The other finalists are:
For a preannouncement Q & A with two of the winners, and several finalists please visit this article on newdesk. More information about the nominated inventions and inventors can also be found at this PowerPoint presentation.
This is the Office of Technology Commercialization's 23rd annual Invention of the Year reception. Since the office opened in 1986 to bring emerging technologies to industry, OTC has
OTC operates under the leadership of executive director Gayatri Varma and continues to serve as a source of innovation and education on intellectual property, technology transfer, and the commercialization process.