Companies can technology-shop at conference

NASA is offering companies a new kind of shoppin experience -- an exhibit hall filled with inventions they can buy.

There will be the fastest American-made car; a new way to analyze mammograms; and a robot that does environmental testing in places people don't want to go.


Most of the exhibitors will be federal laboratories and their contractors, said Joseph Pramberger, conference director for Technology 2002, a conference that will be at the Baltimore Convention Center tomorrow through Thursday.

"The idea is to give these research innovations that were funded by taxpayer money back to the taxpayers," he said.


The third annual conference, sponsored in part by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, is an attempt to open the doors of the federal laboratories. About 5,000 people are expected to attend.

While the technologies may be cutting-edge, some of the products are as ordinary as a lightweight, folding wheelchair and a new lunch box.

Since those products aren't out yet, Mr. Pramberger said he can't discuss which companies are involved. But the wheelchair is one that was developed with academic and federal laboratories. The lunch box will be made of a thermal material designed by Martin Marietta Corp. for the space program that can keep food warm for up to five hours.

The box is the brainchild of a college professor in Alabama who wentto NASA looking for the right material. The inventor now has signed a deal with a food company and the product should be on the market in the next couple of years.

Baltimore was chosen for this year's conference because of its ++ proximity to the many federal laboratories around Washington.

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology will hold a conference on technology transfer Wednesday to Saturday at the Hyatt Regency Baltimore focusing on how to commercialize the laboratory innovations.