Volume 10, Number 2 March/April 2002 Technology Transfer
Embedded Web Technology Makes Life Easier
Embedded Web Technology (EWT), originally developed at NASAs Glenn Research Center to support space shuttle and International Space Station operations, is emerging in commercial form as a result of the centers focused efforts to transfer this innovative, high-potential technology to industry. EWT, which combines Internet, World Wide Web and real-time systems technologies, enables the low-cost, real-time remote control and monitoring of embedded systems via a standard Web browser. Embedded systems contain computers, software, input sensors and output actuators, all of which are dedicated to the control of a specific device.
According to David York, chief engineer of flight software engineering at NASAs Glenn Research Center, as well as the EWT project leader, embedded systems are widely used in consumer and industrial applications. Embedded systems can be found in cars, video cassette recorders, copy and fax machines, and any number of household, business and industrial objects. And anything that has an embedded system has the potential to include embedded Web technology.
Glenns EWT team first gained national recognition in 1997 with the introduction of Tempest, the first Web server of its kind for real-time embedded systems and the keystone for EWT applications. From 1997 to 1999, recognizing Tempests broad potential, Glenn hosted a series of workshops for companies interested in commercializing the server and associated technology. The EWT team earned the NASA Software of the Year Award (1998), the R&D 100 Award (1999) and the Federal Laboratory Consortium Award for Excellence in Technology Transfer (2000) for their pioneering work and technology transfer activities. EWT is now widely known in the software industry, and over 20 commercial vendors are offering Tempest-like embedded Web servers. As part of Glenns ongoing transfer of EWT, a newly developed Java version of Tempest is currently available from the Open Channel Software Foundation (http://www.openchannelfoundation.org).
Since the development of Tempest, York and his team have focused on applications of EWT technology for NASA mission programs and commercial use. For example, the team has demonstrated the use of EWT for highly secure command and control via satellite communications, and has continued working with companies following the workshop series. Potential and emerging EWT applications span health care, factory automation and many other fields of use.
Most recently, Glenns EWT has entered the consumer market as an integral part of a prototype home kitchen appliance developed by Tonights Menu of Brecksville, Ohio. The company, which first learned of EWT in a 1997 workshop at Glenn, employed EWT for their Intelligent Ovens® product. Tonights Menu debuted the product at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Nevada last January, acknowledging the use of NASA technology and generating substantial media attention. The Web-enabled combination refrigerator/microwave oven can be controlled from outside the home through a Web-ready cell phone or computer. This convenient remote control capability allows the user to direct the appliance to begin cooking the meal, providing a hot, home-cooked meal that can be ready when the user walks in the door. The company plans to ultimately utilize the technology for conventional ovens as well.
Although proud of their accomplishments since 1997, York and the EWT team, eager to fulfill the technologys widespread potential, continue to further develop, demonstrate and apply the technology for NASA use and to seek new opportunities for collaboration with US industry. We are open to exploring opportunities with those who are interested in advancing this technology, says York. Q
For more information, contact Gynelle C. Steele, Glenn Research Center, 216/433-8258. Please mention you read about it in Innovation.