A collaboration of LITO Technologies, Inc. and NASA’s Glenn Research Center,Cleveland, Ohio, has resulted in the launch of new technology which will revolutionize security monitoring systems. Furthermore, this type of collaboration could prove to be a new model to help publicly funded technology make the transition to privately funded commercialization.
The product of NASA’s SBIR Grants, the LITO (Laser Imaging Through Obscurants) system, from LITO Technologies, Inc., allows monitoring and sensing in visually obscured weather conditions such as rain, snow, fog, hail and smoke, sand, and dust. It was designed initially to be an onboard sensor for aircraft landing, but the uses for perimeter screening in top security usage became immediately evident.
LITO allows for continual monitoring of a location or multiple locations regardless of how bad weather scenarios may get.
Last month, the LITO Omnivid-1 security system was installed at NASA Glenn for perimeter protection and will also provide a demonstration for other government agencies that may have similar perimeter security requirements.
Because the LITO system can also see through obscurants such as sand, dust, and even fire, the LITO technology will soon cover many sectors including aircraft imaging, border security, firefighting, search and rescue, and potentially even asteroid mapping.
The entire project is an example of the public and private sectors partnering with the input of advanced-thinking entrepreneurs and scientists like LITO’s Robert Foraker, Jared Sullivan, and Dr. Richard Billmers who are working in cooperation with NASA technology projects to create and commercialize advanced technical solutions effectively.
Dr. Richard Billmers, also of RL Associates of Yardley, Pennsylvania, had developed elements of the LITO systems for onboard aircraft sensors, under NASA SBIR Aviation Grants in conjunction with NASA Langley Research Center, Hampton Virginia. Successful demonstrations on the ground and in-flight have resulted in a commercialization strategy that begins with perimeter security applications. The commercialization path will lead to smaller more compact LITO systems that will eventually be used in aircraft to visualize runway scenarios in inclement weather as a part of the Next Generation of Air Flight program.
Billmers was invited by NASA to present his LITO system at their 2012 Technology Days event in Cleveland Ohio. The event was to showcase technology and companies in an effort to stimulated new start ups, and economic growth for the area. The effort seems to have worked.
Robert Foraker, a Private Merchant Banker from Canton, Ohio, and 10 year recipient of NASA agreements, was impressed with the LITO system, when he saw it at the Technology Days event, and authored a collaboration agreement with RL Associates to bring the LITO system to ground based use at NASA Glenn. Foraker fielded the private funding required for the project from a progressive management company called The Woodhaven Group, out of Augusta, Georgia, managed by Jared Sullivan, with whom Foraker had previously worked through his ACT International Incubator.
The entire LITO/NASA collaboration process began and came together in just 51 weeks from the Technology Days event, in 2012, culminating in a Space Act Agreement between NASA’s Glenn Research Center, and LITO in 2013.
This collaboration was made in an effort to get advanced technology commercialized for public use, and help streamline the way the public sector and private sector work together to move technology forward as a whole. Hopefully, this will be just the first of many collaborations between NASA and the private sector to help technological entrepreneurs, by showcasing the technology and moving it to market quickly.