Mines Proof of Concept Program awards four projects

GOLDEN, Colo., April 15, 2015 – Four research projects have received funding through the Colorado School of Mines Proof of Concept Program to help advance the concepts to the commercial marketplace.

The Mines Research Foundation and the State of Colorado Advanced Industries Program provide funding for the program.

This year’s awardees include:

  • “Development of a USB Computer Interface for Wrist Gimbal Stroke Rehabilitation Exoskeleton,” Ozkan Celik, Department of Mechanical Engineering ($33,500)

Wrist Gimbal is an innovative, robust and versatile upper-extremity rehabilitation exoskeleton that enables a platform to administer robot-aided motor rehabilitation in a clinical setting to improve and assess wrist and forearm motor functions of stroke patients through therapeutic movement exercises. The Mines Office of Technology Transfer filed a preliminary patent application for the device in June 2014. The significant market potential of Wrist Gimbal, when compared with existing upper extremity rehabilitation robots, comes from its lower cost, and highly compact and versatile design.

  • “Solid-state Laser Pumping with Advanced High-brightness LED Sources,” Charles Durfee and Steven Hill, Department of Physics ($35,000)

Light emitting diodes (LEDs) are proposed as an efficient, robust and inexpensive replacement for flashlamp pump sources used in several large market areas including medical hair and tattoo removal, industrial marking, and military and civilian range finders. In the scientific market, LED-pumping can be used to either replace current expensive pump lasers for ultrafast laser amplifier systems, or even to directly pump ultrafast gain media, thereby bypassing a major component in those systems. It is anticipated the LED-pumped laser would be more rugged and inexpensive than traditional systems. Through campus projects, the researchers have shown that it is possible to pump a laser with commercially-available blue LEDs. This work led to the filing of a disclosure for this technology.

  • “Casing Rotation and Seal Test Invention Prototype,” William Fleckenstein, Department of Petroleum Engineering ($35,000)

Cementing is critical to the success of an oil and gas well, and both success and proof of success are important to oil companies that are struggling to maintain their social license to operate. There are two ways to move the casing during cementing: reciprocation and rotation. Both reciprocation and rotation of casing relies upon use of the rig at the surface to rotate or reciprocate the entire casing string, which may be undesirable for operational or safety considerations. This invention solves both problems by both rotating a section of the casing, such as the bottom 200 feet of casing, and would test the annular seal. This rotation is imparted hydraulically by the use of a rotary mechanical device that extracts energy from a fluid flow and converts it into useful work, which causes the section of casing to rotate in response to a fluid being pumped through, such as cement, spacers and drilling fluids.

  • “3D Eye Tracking System for Intuitive Human-Machine Interaction,” Xiaoli Zhang, Department of Mechanical Engineering ($35,000)

The wearable 3D eye tracking system will enable humans to communicate with smart devices/systems in the real world through 3D eye gaze. The main advantage of the system is that it provides the absolute X, Y, Z coordinates of humans’ eye gaze, which enables the user to naturally and directly indicate the object of interest and its exact position in the real world. Current eye tracking techniques are limited to 2D tracking, which can only track the user’s 2D gaze point on a scene image, captured by a world-facing camera. Such a 2D gaze tracking technology cannot provide volumetric information to satisfy human-machine interaction (HMI) in 3D surroundings, such as wheelchair navigation, smart home control (e.g. appliances, lights, windows, doors), and the control of mobile assistive robots for object fetching and delivering. Researchers have reported that 75 percent of motor impaired patients can significantly benefit from using eye tracking systems for human-computer interaction to restore vital degrees of independence and improve their quality of life. The National Science Foundation currently funds the project and the first prototype has been developed. A non-provisional patent application was filed in September 2014.


Karen Gilbert, Director of Public Relations, Colorado School of Mines | 303-273-3541 | kgilbert@mines.edu
Kathleen Morton, Communications Coordinator, Colorado School of Mines | 303-273-3088 | kmorton@mines.edu