Seeking a Business Niche? Consider Military Technology

Article excerpt

Even the smallest company has a giant research and development agency available to bring new technology to market.

This agency has helped in development of devices that can see through human flesh to allow viewing of blood vessels, watermarking of digital intellectual properties and a host of other technologies.

Yet, it is an underutilized agency that helps transfer military technology to the civilian world.

It's there for the taking, simply ask, says Jerry T. Jones of Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., who was in Midwest City for the Air Force Technology Trade Fair.

Jones was representing Air Force Laboratories, which has 10 sites around the nation. It specializes in transferring military technology to the civilian marketplace.

"Some of the technologies we have were developed by contractors, so you'd have to contact them to transfer it," he said. "Other technology we've developed (through the Air Force Research Laboratories) under partnership and others that we've developed on our own.

"These we hold patents on, it's in our portfolio, and we can license companies to use it."

As is usual for the military, all programs have specific names, even technology transfer. This is called TechConnect, Jones said.

This is not just technology transfer, but providing solutions to sticky problems that confront private companies.

"Sometimes, we can help solve your problems on the telephone before you even get into the process," he said.

Others require more research and expert guidance before a solution can be found. This may involve the use of Air Force facilities, equipment and personnel or totally adapting military technology to private use.

Some of the more recognizable military technologies that have been adapted to civilian use include:

* The global positioning system.

* Ammunition fuses adapted to initiate automotive air bag inflation.

* Night vision devices that allow drivers to see objects beyond the headlights. Night vision goggles for all sorts of activities.

* The vein viewer developed to allow medics to determine the extent of a battlefield wound quickly. …