• FIRST RF Corporation
  • KCF Technologies
  • Lynntech, Inc.
  • PhaseSpace, Inc.
  • SA Photonics
  • Sentient Science Corporation
  • Syntonics, LLC

FIRST RF Corporation

Phase III Success: $6.5 million through contracts with the Navy, Army, Air Force, DARPA and USSOCOM Topic Number: N08-175

With six Phase III contracts under its belt and military demand for its antenna and RF product lines increasing every month, First RF has the knowledge and expertise to successfully transition technologies to the fleet. But it was a chance encounter during the 2010 Navy Opportunity Forum® that further fueled demand within the DoD and revealed a previously unknown opportunity. While browsing booth displays during the Forum, key personnel from the Office of Naval Research (ONR) caught a glimpse of First RF's newly unveiled phased array antenna technology. Even though the initial antenna was designed for use on the Marine's Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle (EFV), ONR wondered if the same technology could be applied to military helicopters.

Within a week, First RF engineers found themselves at the U.S. Naval Air Test Center in Patuxent River, Maryland, where they were invited to further demonstrate their innovation to personnel at NAVAIR. With the goal of providing a full video upgrade to UH-IY and AH-1Z Naval helicopters, First RF spent about 5 weeks modifying the existing design of the antenna and putting it through strict shock and vibration testing. The end result was an antenna that could not only be used on helicopters, but multiple assets. The antenna allows both ship and ground personnel to view full motion video, which increases situational awareness, and gives troops more data on what lies ahead in the battlefield. The small and lightweight design increases range, reduces weight, and is portable enough to be applied to a wide array of platforms. First RF has fulfilled an order of 20 antennas to NAVAIR, and is set to deliver 50 more this year, resulting in $4.4 million of revenue for the Boulder, Colorado-based small business.

A Navy TAP participant since 2007, First RF is keen to take advantage of the benefits and assistance the Transition Assistance Program (TAP) provides to small businesses. "Going through the TAP process, with the market research provided, and the interface with the Business Acceleration Managers, and time with the customer is invaluable to a small business," says Dave Massey, Director of Business Development for First RF. "It enables the transition of the technology to happen within 3 to 4 years, as opposed to it sitting on the shelf for years, or never happening at all."

During the 2012 Navy Opportunity Forum®, First RF was presenting its Phase II project under Topic N08-175 - Wideband Conformal Antenna. First RF developed a broadband multi-function antenna system and an innovative beam forming technique to address Navy needs. This led to a Rapid Innovation Fund with USSOCOM, along with a Phase III contract for its conformal antennas to be used with the Army's Blue Force.

Founded in 2003, FIRST RF has already secured 66 Phase I SBIR awards and has successfully transitioned 41 of these to Phase II programs. They have also transitioned Phase II SBIR projects in electronic warfare (EW) and Radar antenna systems to Phase III and full-scale production. The largest antenna production program in DoD history began as a Phase I program in 2004 with First RF, and since then, over 120,000 antennas have been produced that support ultra-wideband Electronic Warfare against radio-IED threats in the Middle East. Their recent contract with the Army resulted in over 160,000 tactical vehicular antenna systems being delivered to support operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. This multi-decade antenna technology became the first antenna designated as the Army "Common Antenna" capable of performing multiple communications and EW functions critical in the Global War on Terror. It was because of this technology that First RF received the National Army SBIR Commercialization Excellence Award in 2010 for outstanding commercialization success of an SBIR program. Sales of advanced ultra-broadband antenna products for the company are in the $200 million range.

First RF is a woman-owned small business and offers a wide range of commercial off the shelf antenna products and COTS components for airborne, vehicular, fixed site, space, and man-portable applications. FIRST RF, in collaboration with multiple prime contractors, has developed advanced antenna and radio frequency (RF) technologies for future airborne and ground-based sensors. The company has successfully transitioned the technology developed under several projects to various systems integrators, including SRC, ITT, Raytheon, Northrop Grumman, Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics, Cubic, Argon ST, BAE Systems, Sierra Nevada Corp., Cobham, LGS, and Honeywell. Government customers include the U.S. Army, Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps, MDA, DARPA; NASA, NOAA; Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

First RF was awarded the Raytheon Missile Systems 3-Star Excellence Award and The Tibbetts Award in 2011.With a commercialization achievement index of a perfect 100, First RF has earned a stellar reputation in the industry.

KCF Technologies

Phase III Success: $17.5 million through contracts with the Navy Topic Number: N093-190

KCF Technologies has made headlines the past several years with its energy harvesting innovations and wireless sensor technologies. After successfully implementing their technologies on the Navy's Black Hawk and H-53 helicopters, the next natural question was...why not submarines?

Energy harvesters work by capturing wasted energy from a machine's normal operation. The harvested energy is typically used to power devices such as wireless sensors. In many applications these sensors generate key information related to the health or condition of their host asset. The health and condition information can then be used to support data-driven and targeted maintenance activities. This self-contained harvester-powered sensor approach is essential to enabling the DoD's Condition-Based Maintenance Plus (CBM+) initiatives because high value data can be procured at a low lifecycle cost. CBM+ is allowing the DoD to move away from an overly conservative preventative maintenance schedules to an optimized on-demand maintenance model.

After winning several SBIR awards to evolve its energy harvester technologies, KCF then embarked on a Phase I and II project with NAVSEA to harvest energy from the ambient electromagnetic environment that exists on submarines. The harvester developed under this SBIR project used a specialized magneto-electric transducer.

During the Phase II program, KCF participated in the Navy Transition Assistance Program (Navy TAP) and presented at the 2012 Navy Opportunity Forum®. As part of the TAP, each company is matched with a Business Acceleration Manager (BAM) to assist them every step of the way. As a regular TAP participant, KCF knows the value that comes from the specialized attention.

"I think any small business can benefit from it," says Jeremy Frank, President of KCF Technologies. "The value comes from working with the BAMS - and the contacts you meet at the Forum can prove to be invaluable."

The baseline technology of wired sensors on submarines is similar to that of other DoD platforms like helicopters. Ubiquitous application of wired sensor systems is limited by installation cost and complexity, faults, and maintenance of the wires for supplying power and communication. A routine task like adding a new wire route could cost over $1 million just to get the plans drawn. Sustaining the wire route throughout the life of the submarine is also costly each time you add a wire.

Batteries present a competitive alternative, but they bring their own costs and complexities. Batteries must be replaced on a regular basis before failure to ensure continuous sensor monitoring, and that drives labor and material cost especially considering that many sensors will be located in areas that are difficult to access.

Over the course of the SBIR project, the magneto-electric harvester proved to be applicable to certain locations in the submarine. To more broadly address the need for sensors throughout the submarine, the SBIR work was refocused on reducing the power consumption of the sensor components. By optimizing the wireless sensor electronics, the project resulted in hardware that requires a very low power budget and enables a long 8 year battery life. This key technology advancement enables battery replacements to be aligned with submarine depot maintenance cycles.

The demand for these new self-powered wireless sensors stems from the basic DoD-wide push for Condition-Based Maintenance. This technology essentially gives machines a "voice" to communicate how close they are to a failure condition. Maintenance is only performed when it is needed, as opposed to being performed on an aggressive schedule. The ability to detect problems and prevent failure has significant safety and cost benefits, since the cost of failure is extremely high, both in lives and dollars.

Although implementation on submarines with the goal of continuous machine monitoring has a lengthy transition path, KCF continues to supply its condition monitoring product line to the commercial marketplace, while furthering its development on subs.

The success of KCF's SmartDiagnostics® commercial product line is in-part built around the ability to send large amounts of data using an extremely low power budget, which was furthered under this SBIR topic. This equates to enabling continuous monitoring of machines and low sensor lifecycle cost through minimizing battery replacements. Machines in commercial industry typically fail unexpectedly and over short time periods, which is why continuous monitoring is essential to practically enabling Condition-Based Maintenance.

KCF's suite of commercial products can be found on large industrial fans/air handling units, water pumps, mud pumps, paper plants, and within industries like natural gas, food processing, steel, and chemical plants. The objective always remains the same, and that is to optimize maintenance practices. The power generation industry is a natural fit for Condition-Based Maintenance and self-powered sensors, since failure of any of the large, moving parts results in costly downtime.

Transitioning technologies to the commercial marketplace is one of the fundamental components of KCF's business strategy and it has served them well. Every Phase II project KCF has embarked upon has resulted in a successfully launched commercial product.

Lynntech, Inc.

Phase III Success: $2 million through contracts with the Navy Topic Number: N092-132

Unmanned Underwater Vehicles (UUV) are typically powered by batteries, which limits mission endurance and capability. Relied upon by the Navy for high-priority missions such as fleet protection, oceanography, communication and navigation, it is becoming increasingly important to turn to alternative energy sources for sustained performance.

Lynntech has specialized in electro-chemical power for over two decades, with a strong focus on fuel cell technology. When the Navy wanted to develop a flexible hybrid energy system for long endurance UUVs, the small business located in College Station, TX knew it had the tools and knowledge to deliver results. While batteries keep a UUV running for several hours, Lynntech envisioned a system that would enable run times of 50% to 400% longer. This goal was right in line with the Navy's express desire to conduct fully independent UUV missions with durations of two months by 2017.

Lynntech went to work to develop a system that was flexible, modular, and consisted of a proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cell, a commercial off-the-shelf battery, and advanced power management system architecture. This hybrid battery provides power for short-term high-power transient loads, while the fuel cell provides stable base load power and battery recharging. This allows the UUV to operate for longer periods of time and could support a more extensive sensor capability compared with current vehicles.

Although Lynntech began work on its fuel cell hybrid energy system following a Phase I SBIR award from NAVSEA, this technology was built upon years of earlier work building fuel cells for high altitude long range, long endurance operations within the Department of Defense. The challenge was now to put a fuel cell battery system into such a small piece of equipment, measuring just 12 3/4 inches. During the subsequent Phase II project, Lynntech presented its innovation at the 2012 Navy Opportunity Forum®, following its participation in the Navy Transition Assistance Program (Navy TAP). Having attended the Forum five years in a row, Lynntech knows the value of getting in front of the right audience.

"We devote a lot of resources to our time in the TAP because we see the value," says John Stocker, Lynntech's Senior Vice-President of Federal Solutions. "We know that we get adequate coverage with our customers both within the DoD and other government agencies, and the Navy does a fantastic job of showing people what these SBIR-funded technologies can do."

Lynntech's system garnered enough interest that the company won a Phase II.5 award worth $2 million to continue the development of the technology. During the upcoming 2015 Navy Opportunity Forum®, Lynntech will present a demo of the updated system, which does not have a detectable noise and thermal signature. It is closed to the environment to maintain neutral buoyancy and avoid detection, is fully air-independent to allow operation in subsea environments, and allows rapid refueling. Lynntech has identified a target platform which contains highly advanced sonar and could potentially benefit from the system. Their goal for transitioning technology to the fleet involves identifying and developing relationships with program offices and contractors who need long endurance, safe energy systems for UUVs, buoys, and submersibles. Other potential platforms include autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs), auxiliary power units (APUs) and ground transportation vehicles.

Lynntech believes that the fuel cell market is highly specialized, and currently prefers to tailor its work to government customers exclusively. Because of this, the company has focused mainly on projects within the Navy and NASA, which uses Lynntech's fuel cell technologies on NASA vehicles and power systems for satellites. That's not to say commercially, Lynntech hasn't identified potential applications. Undersea oil exploration, including drilling operations, oil field servicing as well as environmental monitoring are all areas that require greater power for duration and payload uses, and could benefit from fuel cell technology.

Other potential government applications of Lynntech's hybrid energy system include stationary underwater power sources for sensor networks and UUV recharging, man portable power supplies for primary power and battery charging, as well as powering other unmanned vehicles such as Unmanned Ground Vehicles, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, and Unmanned Surface Vehicles.

The company is currently involved in several SBIR projects with the Navy, NASA, and the Army. They have developed materials for improved infrared missile domes, as well as new material for a non-flammable electrolyte that is being tested at Carderock for the F-35 Lightning II. This same technology is also being used to produce non-flammable electrolytes for lithium ion lite batteries for undersea applications. In addition, the company's work with the Army involves reducing weight on re-breathers, which are used in non-oxygenated environments. Lynntech's aspiration is to move toward low-volume manufacturing, utilizing internal investments.

"Historically, we've always been involved in the SBIR program," adds Stocker. "The great thing about SBIRs is that it allows you to develop new technologies, and it gives you a launch pad to help move those technologies into the marketplace."

PhaseSpace, Inc.

Phase III Success: $20 million in contracts with the Navy and commercial sales Topic Number: N09-T021

Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) are increasingly becoming the go-to training technologies in many areas of the Department of Defense. Complex training is a part of many DoD activities from repair and maintenance of aircraft, ground vehicles and shipboard systems, to interaction with combatant and non-combatants.

As VR and AR rapidly evolve, the need increases to accurately and inexpensively track the position of the individual and his weapon. The individual's head, limbs, and weapons must be tracked in real time so that a virtual representation of the individual can be rendered.

PhaseSpace and the University of Southern California (USC) envisioned enhanced tracking capabilities as a technology that would improve virtual-reality training experiences for military personnel, providing evaluators with better data as they analyze troop actions in various scenarios. PhaseSpace knew the system had to be very robust, since the training environments provide the individual with significant movement and shock. The system should also be able to track multiple users operating in a shared space without loss of accuracy or individual identification. This is where its Phase II SBIR project began with ONR, and the results have taken the company far beyond the government sector.

"When we were in the Phase II project, we proactively contacted Disney, Boeing, and many other companies," explained Tracy McSheery, President of PhaseSpace, Inc. "We practiced an open exchange of information and that transparency allowed us to get valuable feedback from people and companies that we otherwise could not afford."

This approach is fitting for the Oakland, California-based small business, which since Day 1 has had a business philosophy to reinvest all its revenues from product sales into future innovations. This has resulted in PhaseSpace manufacturing its own products, while still being able to devote about 40% to research and development.

PhaseSpace has excelled in the virtual reality market since the company recognizes that time is as important as resolution in terms of tracking, and this translates to better imagery. With a higher resolution and higher frame rate solution than the competition at 12 megapixels at 960 frames per second, this precision gives the company an edge. PhaseSpace's VR technology also has applicability across the commercial marketplace. Let's say that a major university wants to visualize a space that doesn't actually exist yet - they want potential investors to be able to actually walk around inside it, turn lights on and off, and make turns down a hallway. This technology allows the "what if" to come to life. A "visitor" may see what the building looks like at sunset, or at noon, or even look out the windows to neighboring structures.

During the 2012 Navy Opportunity Forum®, PhaseSpace presented its innovation to a crowd of very interested attendees across the DoD. "The Forum for us was excellent," added McSheery. "We were very pleased and surprised with the level of engagement."

PhaseSpace soon began work on the highly publicized BlueShark project for ONR. Developed with the help of USC, BlueShark leverages several techniques and technologies, including virtual and augmented reality, virtual humans, artificial intelligence, and human-computer interfaces to create a vision for what future workspaces and collaborations will look like.

Shortly thereafter, PhaseSpace sold two systems to Boeing for robotic applications. The company's robotics work is finding its niche in both defense sectors and the entertainment world. Using its patented Impulse X2 motion capture system with lightweight linear detector based cameras, robots are being built for use in movies, music videos, and more. PhaseSpace's Active LED technology and sophisticated real-time processing eliminates marker-swapping and significantly reduces drop-outs. The Impulse X2 is the next step in the evolution of the Impulse Motion Capture System, which is recognized as the industry's most advanced tracking solution. The company's silver screen work includes the Amazing Spiderman and the Smurfs 2.

PhaseSpace employs a dozen people, mostly from UC Berkeley, with degrees in programming, engineering, and science. The company focuses on the affordable development of tools for training, sensing, and tracking that meet DoD needs, and that simultaneously have commercial potential.

PhaseSpace is pursing another successful project with the Office of Naval Research to take motion capture to the next level and has already garnered feedback and interest from universities, Disney, and other commercial entities.

SA Photonics

Phase III Success: $6 million through contracts with the Army, Navy, Air Force, and commercial sales Topic Number: N09-T031

To prepare for high-stress battlefield situations, the United States Marine Corps Fire Support Teams (FiSTs) undergo extensive live fire training. The need for realism and high definition imagery is critical, and current technology has not been able to keep up with the demands. Live fire training is expensive and requires numerous resources that are in limited supply, such as firing ranges, targets, live rounds, and aircraft. As a result, a need exists for an alternative training method.

The Office of Naval Research (ONR) had a vision to incorporate an advanced augmented reality head mounted display (HMD) system to help train USMC FiSTs. When SA Photonics saw the SBIR solicitation, they responded immediately. The small business, located in Los Gatos, California, specializes in the design and development of advanced photonics systems for military and commercial customers. The result was a collaborative effort titled LARS - short for a Low-Cost Augmented Reality System.

This technology provides augmentation via symbology and video imagery over a very wide 76 degree field of view. LARS' high-resolution (1920 x 1200) color OLED microdisplays provide for an extremely sharp image. The needed training can now be completed without using live fire. LARS simulates lifelike targets and allows for realistic battle damage assessment, for more effective training at a lower cost. SA Photonics' innovative prism eyepiece design has virtually no peripheral obscuration, so FiSTs can see an unobstructed view of the battlefield.

The system was designed to be mounted to either a helmet or a soft-mount using a standard commercial off-the-shelf interface plate. LARS can be easily flipped up out of the way to a secure stowage position when not in use. Adjustments for fore/aft, vertical position and interpupillary distance allow for the perfect fit for each individual user.

"The primary benefit of LARS is that it enhances dismounted solider training by simulating lifelike battlefield situations without using expensive actors, live fire, aircraft, or other costly and limited resources," explains SA Photonics General Manager of Vision Products Dr. Michael Browne. "It also enables instructors to give soldiers direct and real-time feedback during training."

Of course, any technology this utilitarian will find demand across the Department of Defense. That is precisely what happened when the Army and Air Force saw the resulting innovation. One of the reasons for the added visibility was the company's participation in the Navy Transition Assistance Program (Navy TAP). Presenting the technology at the 2012 Navy Opportunity Forum® realized the company some prime exposure they could not have gotten elsewhere.

"By far, the biggest benefit of the Forum was the opportunity to meet with so many influential decision makers in one place, at one time," added Browne. "On my own, it would take me six months or longer to meet with them all. In this way, I met with everybody I needed to in a span of just a few days."

Through subsequent Phase III contracts with the Navy and other agencies across the DoD, SA Photonics is continuing to develop state-of-the-art augmented reality products, all thanks to the original SBIR funding that propelled this technology. The company is now developing a a wide field of view digital night vision head mounted display for NAVAIR. That display will dramatically increase the situational awareness of pilots in both military and commercial aviation. SA Photonics has leveraged their initial ONR SBIR program to develop head mounted displays for use in Army aviation and for future concept HMDs for the USAF. The work at SA Photonics also includes solving other complex man-machine interface problems using custom designed digital data gloves, specialty ruggedized smartphone attachments and a number of other innovative head mounted display systems.

SA Photonics has assembled a world-class team of high-speed photonics, optical, electrical, and mechanical engineers, many with over 20 years experience in building complex, ruggedized systems for a variety of applications across the military and commercial industry. In 2011, the company was awarded the coveted Tibbetts Award for excellence in the commercialization of SBIR-funded technologies. SA Photonics has been listed multiple times in the Inc. 500|5000 list of fastest-growing private companies in the United States and on the Deloitte Fast 500 list of fastest-growing technology companies in the United States and Canada.

Sentient Science Corporation

Phase III Success: Over $2 million through contracts with the Navy, Air Force, and Commercial Sales Topic Number: N101-006

The challenge with unmanned aerial vehicles is that in the event of an emergency, there is nobody inside the cockpit making split second decisions on how to avoid a disaster. Suppose the UAV is disabled, runs out of fuel, or a wing is damaged - somebody or something needs to communicate with the vehicle, telling it how to curtail itself to get home safely. Originally, a team of decision makers was stationed on the ground, doing exactly that. Yet this resulted in the "unmanned" vehicle actually being more "manned" than ever before, which was costly and inefficient. What if a machine located on the UAV could do that job, and with more preciseness and accuracy than any individual?

That was the goal of Sentient Science, a Buffalo, NY-based small business that has continually transitioned SBIR-funded technologies to both military and commercial customers. With a new prognostic approach, the technology could calculate the point in time when critical components and systems will begin to fail and make recommendations to extend the life of these components, systems and assets, creating substantial financial benefits for its customers.

Sentient's proven research is based on the foundation that all materials have their failure information coded into their microstructure at the grain and sub-grain level - much like capturing and decoding the human genome. Sentient is able to decode these grains (genes) under actual operating conditions, so they can identify the failure grain and its signature. It is with this technical approach that Sentient has provided computational performance testing and life extension services to increase the remaining useful life of industrial assets in the energy, heavy machinery, and defense markets.

As UAVs become more advanced, integration of the typical Prognostics &s; Health Management (PHM) System from a manned platform is not always optimal. UAVs present unique challenges in the diagnostics, prognostics and health monitoring of engines and drive systems, sensors (electro-optical/infrared (EO/IR), radar, etc.), electro-mechanical actuator (EHA), and communications, during endurance missions. Without a pilot, the PHM system on UAVs must be relied upon to a greater extent to report propulsion faults and drive maintenance actions. Sentient calls its simulated technology DigitalClone®, the world's first low cost and quick to build ground truth physics life model which contains the probabilistic crack initiation and propagation data. It can be further simulated with machine data, HUMS, FADEC or SCADA data to provide the specific real time autonomous tail number life prediction, life extension and machine control.

"Current 2nd generation diagnostics systems predict failure after they see historic failures," explains Sentient President Ward Thomas. "This new generation of PHM uses material sciences to predict crack initiation and propagation, before a failure is ever seen by sensors, an approach that allowed us to win the Phase II award."

Sentient Science participated in the Navy Transition Assistance Program (Navy TAP) during the Phase II project. Presenting at the 2012 Navy Opportunity Forum® proved to be a great success for the company. It's no wonder that after demonstrating the technology at the Forum, the energy market showed interest. DOE-NREL-NYSERDA and NSF provided additional funding to help commercialize the technology to wind turbine operators and owners, to solve premature gearbox and blade failure. The company signed a contract with First Wind to deploy a new generation of autonomous, predictive, condition maintenance, monitoring systems that enable First Wind to monitor the life of their wind turbines. The capability will calculate the remaining useful life of 150 Clipper Wind Liberty 2.5MW turbine gearboxes and 68 out-of-warranty GE 1.5MW SLE wind turbine gearboxes. Sentient Science will deploy its new cloud-based prediction software and sensor products that feature Sentient's DigitalClone Live technology.

In June, 2014 Sentient was awarded a contract with the Air Force to develop an add-on to their DigitalClone family of software services that computationally predict the final stages of material, component, and system life for small and long crack effects for both fixed wing and rotorcraft vehicles. British Petroleum (BP) also enlisted Sentient as the trusted third party to inform their prospective wind farm buyers what the operational and maintenance costs would be for the life of the machinery. Other clients include John Deere, Sikorsky Aircraft, Energy Northwest, Boeing, Minnesota Power, Broadwind Energy, Pattern Energy, Eaton Vehicles Group, GE, Penoles, The National Science Foundation, Genpact, and the U.S. Army.

"Using Sentient's technology, we believe the performance of UAVs can be optimized for the next 20 years," added Thomas. "Users will now have accurate maintenance costs and a better control of business outcomes." Sentient was recently awarded the Tibbetts Award for excellence in driving innovation into the industrial and energy marketplaces. The award is the highest given by the U.S. Government to honor outstanding technical and commercial achievements of small businesses under the SBIR and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs.

Syntonics, LLC

Phase III Success: $35 million through contracts with the Army, Air Force, Marines, Department of Homeland Security, Civilian Agencies, and the Canadian Special Operations Forces Topic Number: N07-149

For radio signals to travel between the radio and the antenna, coax cables or wave guides are usually used. But what happens when the antennas need to fly overhead? Heavy coax cables cannot be used on the ground to transmit information back to the radio - the power would simply get lost. This prompted the DoD to implement an "aerial layer" of Radio Frequency (RF) network communications to provide wide-area connectivity from the tactical edge to the forward operating bases. The aerial layer extends the range of line-of-sight (LOS) communications radios and reduces the volume of network traffic that must flow via satellite links. However, to implement the aerial layer, network radio relays must be fielded on aircraft, unmanned aerial vehicles, tethered aerostats and tall towers, which is usually undesirable due to reduced data rates. Syntonics came to the table with a solution. They ran the radio signals over an optical fiber. This requires active electronics at both ends of the fiber. At the radio end, the signal must be converted to a light signal. And at the other end, you must convert the light back into an electric signal. They call this specialized technology "RF-over-Fiber", which refers to the general issue of putting the radios and the antennas in different places.

The system Syntonics developed during the Phase I and II SBIR programs through SPAWAR is named FORAX-HARC. It is a lightweight aerostat/tower-top RF-over-Fiber system that uses a single optical fiber to connect lightweight airborne antennas to multiple radios in the tactical operations center or the command post. FORAX-HARC implements the aerial layer without flying the radios. By using HARC, the radios stay on the ground and only the antennas are high in the air.

It was during its Phase II project work that Syntonics participated in the Navy Transition Assistance Program (Navy TAP), which culminated in the 2012 Navy Opportunity Forum®. Although the original RF-over-Fiber technology was bred in 2007, each new SBIR has fed the innovation and helped it to evolve to where it is today.

"The market exposure you get from the Forum is a very positive thing," says Bruce Montgomery, President of Syntonics. "When you're a small business, you want to be sure that when government personnel talk to each other about your company, that it's always positive, and that they've seen you exhibit."

The technology has received a surge of excitement from the DoD and other federal agencies. Shortly after the first aerostat was flown in Bagdad, the Senior NCO of the Army wondered if they could put some of their antennas in the air, since the Army's radios were line of sight. This meant that if the antennas couldn't see each other, they couldn't talk. She knew that if they could put their antennas in the sky, all of the units could communicate with one another. She did some research and discovered Syntonics. The company received a purchase order in less than 24 hours.

Syntonics was subsequently awarded a Phase III contract worth $14 million with the U.S. Army to deliver 50 production systems. The Army saw the potential and wanted to use the technology on tethered blimps and fly them directly over the forward operating base. This significantly improves force protection for the Army and specifically in aiding the IED detection operations in Iraq.

"We make our own antennas and the technology," explains Montgomery. "Lightweight antennas simply did not exist - so we invented them."

The systems are currently coming back from Afghanistan for refurbishment. Syntonics may be adding additional capabilities to HARC over the coming years. The company also has a demonstration going on along the Texas border to watch the Rio Grande. Adding antennas in the sky enables border patrol to talk 50-70 miles down the border, as opposed to only a few feet away.

The company is also honing its Sniper Detection Radar Product named SPiDR, which they hope will be the next great thing in law enforcement.

  • Adaptive Dynamics, Inc.
  • Aptima, Inc.
  • Advanced Technologies Group, Inc.
  • Cornerstone Research Group, Inc.
  • Diamond Visionics
  • KCF Technologies, Inc.
  • Optical Physics Company
  • Out of the Fog Research LLC
  • Referentia Systems
  • Vehicle Control Technologies

Adaptive Dynamics, Inc.

Phase III Success: $4.5 million through contracts with the Navy, Army, and commercial sales Topic Number: N07-103

MILITARY OPERATIONS can only be executed if the battle plan is communicated effectively to the fighting units. Plan details must be transmitted with the utmost clarity, allowing the command and control units to act in a united, and cooperative effort. Ultra High Frequency (UHF) Satellite Communications (SATCOM) systems are used to achieve this goal, where communications are exchanged rapidly and efficiently throughout every level of command. However, when data rates and system capacities are degraded by radio frequency (RF) and multipath interference, the system is unable to deliver mission-critical communications. There existed an urgent need to de-velop capabilities that would mitigate interference from the UHF communications channels without distorting the communication signals of interest.

The team at Adaptive Dynamics, Inc. (ADI) had a successful history in communications signal processing, and performed some early work with sonars. They believed that their existing technology could be applied to solve the problem of interference in communications and other RF systems, and embarked on a Phase I project with SPAWAR with this goal in mind. ADI applied an extension of its nonlinear adaptive filtering techniques that were previously developed and successfully applied to various waveforms. The algorithms were redesigned to provide effective performance with the 25 kHz Continuous Phase Modulation (CPM) waveform in the presence of various types of interference and multipath distortion.

ADI's resulting product restores the data rate and capacity of the UHF SATCOM links in order to close the gap in operational capability produced by the undesirable interference. This nonlinear adaptive filtering system mitigated the effects of narrowband interference and increased the effective number of UHF SATCOM channels available to warfighters. The system maximizes the data rate achieved in real-life environmental conditions and dramatically increases the capability to establish and maintain reliable communication of mission-critical messages, even in the event of severe RF interference and hostile denial of service attacks.

"Many companies have tried to solve the issues with interference and noisy environments," says Adaptive Dynamics President James Zeidler. "We have an innovative approach, however, in that we are able to track rapid variations in the operational environment, which classical techniques are not able to keep up with."

ADI continued the development of its product with a Phase II award and subsequently participated in the Navy Transition Assistance Program (Navy TAP). Although the company is focused on transitioning the technology to the fleet first and foremost, it was during this time they saw the massive potential for the commercial marketplace and the broad potential spectrum of applications. Platforms that could benefit from the technology include other communications systems, navigation systems, electronic warfare, signal intelligence, and any application where users are trying to convey information or analyze signals.

At the culmination of the Navy TAP, Adaptive Dynamics presented its innovation at the Navy Opportunity Forum®. While most companies find themselves amongst competitors, ADI found itself another partner.

"The biggest benefit of the Navy Opportunity Forum® for our company happened to be the interaction we had with other small businesses," says Zeidler. "Navsys Corporation saw a potential application of our technology into their GPS and navigation systems, and that resulted in a subcontract/joint program, along with a Phase II.5 we participated in with them."

Based in San Diego, CA, ADI has won two Rapid Innovation Funds (RIF) through ONR and the technology is being adapted for use on Army battlefields, airborne systems and Navy Littoral Combat Ships. ADI's current Phase I and Phase II SBIRs take this project several steps further, and focus on utilizing wider bands for more modern technology. Wide bands can deliver more content at a faster rate, and real-time images and videos, which the older, legacy systems cannot provide.

This system, called Multiple Adaptive Generalized Interference Cancellation (MAGIC®), is a hardware prototype filter that can restore operation of tactical wideband UHF SATCOM systems in the presence of extreme RF interference for both narrowband and wideband interference waveforms. The technology is also applicable to both commercial terrestrial and satellite communications systems such as HSDPA, MUOS, WiMax, LTE and navigation systems such as the Global Positioning System (GPS).

ADI is currently working with several primes on licensing and other ventures. They are also further defining their transition plan into two potential packages - stand-alone hardware that operates on the received signals from the antennas, and licensable cores integrated into the radio hardware.

Launched in 2003 as a father/son team, Adaptive Dynamics has successfully completed more than 20 prime and subcontracts for the Department of Defense and commercial companies. ADI has since expanded its team and moved into a 2,300 sq. ft. office/laboratory to provide the low volume manufacturing facilities needed to develop the operational prototypes required for transition.

Aptima, Inc.

Phase III Success: $11 million through contracts with the Navy, Air Force, and commercial sales Topic Number: N07-089

TODAY'S COMPLEX command and control systems require a high degree of collaborative decision-making across team members. Tools are needed to measure and analyze team processes, performance, workloads, and situation awareness, in order to identify potential human bottlenecks and collaboration gaps. Realizing this necessity of macrocognition, the Office of Naval Research set out to develop a system that could specify, capture, compute and visualize measures of collaboration in a real-time, naturalistic and meaningful manner.

Aptima responded to this need by developing CoVE (the Collaborative Visualization Environment), a software-based, reconfigurable team-in-the-loop simulation that allows participants to perform operational tasks across a diverse set of domains. CoVE is a real-time measurement system that accurately assesses and represents data as it is being processed. The system supports training exercises by tracking and assessing trainee behavior and allows for the revision of distributed teams' protocols and procedures, as well as enhanced decision-making in all mission-critical domains. CoVE includes Performance Dashboards that display in real-time the team performance measures, as the exercise unfolds. This information is equally useful to the instructors, who can monitor the state of individuals and the team as a whole, and to the trainees who can identify collaboration gaps as they participate in the exercise.

The vision of CoVE was based on the fundamental notion that advanced visualization techniques alone are not sufficient to effectively support distributed planning by collaborative, heterogeneous teams. Rather, a collaborative visualization environment is needed, in which visualization tools are augmented with innovative collaboration capabilities. The CoVE environment facilitates the creation and sharing of knowledge between distributed analysts of varied expertise.

The system provides utility to a large spectrum of users across the Department of Defense, from the in-telligence community to commanding officers in all branches of the military. It also benefits the acquisition community by enabling direct testing and evaluation of new technology and its impact on distributed teams.

It was during Aptima's Phase II work with ONR that they participated in the Navy Transition Assistance Program (Navy TAP) to assist in the eventual commercialization of the technology. It became very clear during the market research that CoVE had potential across multiple industries, in addition to the solutions it would bring to the DoD.

"Originally, we developed CoVE to visualize performance as it was captured though system data," explains Sylvain Bruni, Program Manager at Aptima. "We soon found it had many other applications, all dealing with people interacting with interfaces - it is now being used to visualize EKGs, heart rates and vitals, and transitioning more to human data, such as illustrating the neurophysiological measures of performance in training and simulation."

Other potential applications for CoVE include its use by experimental psychologists looking to conduct hy-pothesis testing on distributed teams of operators while gathering macrocognition measures, including operator, team and system performance. The system can also be used by government, academic and commercial research and development personnel investigating teaming and collaboration issues in distributed groups of operators, such as in the aviation, space, military, emergency or law enforcement domains.

At the culmination of the Navy TAP, the Aptima team presented its innovation at the 2011 Navy Opportunity Forum®, and addressed the goals the company had outlined and met through its SBIR work. CoVE successfully supported teams in generating new information of interest, and generated information requirements; it provided for visual collaboration between analysts through agile information sharing technologies; and it facilitated innovative information sharing capabilities through all phases of analysis.

"It was great to be at a venue where you had decision makers from a wide variety of agencies as well as large contractors such as Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, and other large prime contractors, but also other small businesses." said Bruni. "It's not about bringing in contracts right away, but getting started on conversations to align with those large companies, and that has a lot of value."

Since its SBIR work, Aptima has been awarded a $6M Phase III contract from the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) for Human Universal Measurement and Assessment Network (HUMAN) Technology, Demonstration, and Validation Program. This is an innovative program that leverages three unique Phase II contracts, including the CoVE system, to provide a comprehensive capability to demonstrate and validate technologies developed to enhance human performance based on neuroergonomic concepts and theories. Aptima has secured contracts with both the Navy and the Air Force, resulting in Phase III revenues of $11 million.

Advanced Technologies Group, Inc.

Phase III Success: $9 million through contracts with the Navy and commercial sales Topic Number: N08-035

AS PART OF the Next Generation Jammer (NGJ) program for the Navy's tactical aircraft, NAVAIR required the development of a submerged Ram Air Turbine (RAT) capable of producing 60 kW of power at a speed of 220 knots at 25,000 feet. The existing technology, which had been in place for over forty years, was only capable of half that goal, and desperately needed a power upgrade.

Advanced Technologies Group, Inc. (ATGI) responded to this request by developing a High Powered Ram Air Turbine (HiRAT). The NGJ program sought to develop new ways to disable enemy radars, however, the transmitter pods, which contain the RAT in the front of the pod, had to be reconfigured. ATGI's HiRAT system is able to produce twice the required power for a given airspeed and altitude, making it the most efficient turbine on the market. Located in the center of the pod as opposed to the front, the HiRAT allows radar equipment to be located in the forward pod section.

The power output of the turbine is controlled with an actuated exhaust outlet. This active power control system extends the flight envelope in which the turbine can be used. It also serves as an emergency shut down system. The HiRAT's elegant and aerodynamic design reduces drag and fuel consumption. As an additional benefit, the Turbine-Generator system does not include a gearbox, which considerably reduces the weight and results in less maintenance.

Although ATGI started off years behind other companies that were doing the same kind of work, they were the first to wind tunnel test full scale and develop more than required power. In 2010, the HiRAT was tested at the Naval Warfare Center wind tunnel facility in Crane, IN and came within 10 percent of the predicted power. It was then wind tested at the University of Maryland, and in the NASA Langley TDT wind tunnel, which simulates altitude and air speed, coming within 5 percent of the predicted power.

ATGI continued its work with NAVAIR with a Phase II award, and subsequently participated in the Navy Transition Assistance Program (Navy TAP).

While the company had already made great headway prior to the TAP, its participation in the 2011 Navy Opportunity Forum® further fueled demand and interest among large prime contractors and military personnel.

"We certainly made good contacts at the Forum, met with Navy personnel, and even gave an impromptu presentation to several people in a hallway," says ATGI President John Justak. "The meetings with NAVAIR helped us to secure additional funding and we are currently in talks with some of the other companies on several potential applications."

ATGI has since received a Rapid Innovation Fund (RIF) of $2.8M and an additional Phase III contract worth $800K, both from NAVAIR. They have collaborated with several NGJ prime contractors, and performed a flight test recently. Commercially, ATGI has targeted a wide range of applications, including working with several large prime contractors on electronic warfare and ISR applications, and on commercial airlines as an emergency power generation system. With more and more electrical power requirements going into aircraft, baseline systems are limited because they can't expand upon what they already have. The HiRAT provides a capability to add extra power to the aircraft, by simply bolting the system onto the existing wing. Depending on the power, one unit may range from tens of thousands, to hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Advanced Technologies Group has always taken a unique approach in that it aims to develop a variety of advanced technologies for commercialization.

"We look at all of the SBIR solicitations, and we look for any opportunity where our technologies can provide a solution," explains John Justak, President of Advanced Technologies Group. "We've had SBIRs with the Department of Transportation and with the Army - anything that involves turbo machinery, we know we can develop solutions across industries."

This mentality stems from a long line of research and development work, which ultimately transitioned into a wide range of technologies. While ATGI is classified as an aerospace R&D firm, it has developed optical sensors for NASA and others in the aerospace industries, gas turbine seals for aircraft engines, seals for hydrogen compressors and steam turbine applications. The result has been a steady increase in company revenue since ATGI was founded in 1996 and a reputation for being known as delivering simple, yet novel solutions to complex problems.

Cornerstone Research Group, Inc.

Phase III Success: $30 million through contracts with the Navy, Air Force, and commercial sales Topic Number: N08-030

THE PRODUCTION OF MILITARY ground and air vehicles using lightweight composite materials has traditionally been reliant upon the autoclave to ensure high-quality composite parts. This dependency on the autoclave has rendered it difficult to manufacture high-quality parts at high volume and low cost due to labor-intensive techniques and large equipment requirements.

Looking to streamline this process, the Navy sought ways to manufacture these parts out of the autoclave. Cornerstone Research Group (CRG) responded to this need by proposing its Shape Memory Polymer (SMP) Bladder Tooling technology to be used as an out-of-autoclave (OOA) process. This tooling technology was originally developed by CRG in the late 90's for contact lens manufacturing, but the company realized the core components of the process could be applied across a wider range of applications.

The highest opportunity for cost savings in tooling for composites comes from highly complex composite geometries where conventional metal tooling is trapped or cannot be removed in a single piece. A relatively simple process of laying-up a composite part is complicated when the internal tooling must be removed after the cure. Multiple solutions exist on the market, yet these processes are highly labor-intensive or require single use tooling, which are both typically cost prohibitive.

CRG's tooling technology is built upon Shape Memory Polymers (SMPs), which are polymers whose qualities have been tailored to give them a dynamic modulus (stiffness) as a function of temperature. Under thermal stimuli, SMPs exhibit a radical change from a rigid state to a highly flexible elastic state and then return to a rigid state again when cooled. SMP Bladders are fiber reinforced thermoset composite tooling products that operate first as rigid net shaped mandrels during lay-up and later as inflatable bladder cores during cure to consolidate the composite from the inside-out. Following completion of the cure, while still above activation temperature, the SMP Bladders can be depressurized for easy extraction. SMP Bladders are capable of supporting composite cure cycles up to 365°F and temperatures between 113°F and 250°F. These unique properties solve the issue of tooling complex composite shapes by changing stiffness and form when needed.

During Cornerstone's Phase II SBIR work with NAVAIR, the company participated in the Navy Transition Assistance Program (Navy TAP). Tom Margraf, Director of Engineering for CRG's affiliate company, Spintech LLC, spoke of the various benefits of the TAP for a small research and development firm.

"The documentation prepared within the TAP program helped clearly communicate our product vision, capabilities, and benefits to customers," says Margraf. "The quad chart we constructed, along with the capabilities brochure, gave us ready-to-use tools to send to potential government and commercial customers when needed."

During the 2011 Navy Opportunity Forum®, Cornerstone Research Group relayed the many benefits of its tooling technology to potential customers. These benefits include increased throughput, which reduces the total process time, increased repeatability from part to part because of a rigid, net shaped, lay-up tool, and a substantial savings in manufacturing costs, up to 80 percent.

Commercially, Cornerstone Research Group has been enjoying continued success since its SBIR work with both the Navy and Air Force. Spintech LLC was established in order to manufacture the tooling product, which is now being sold as the Smart Tooling™ product line, while Cornerstone Research Group remains the incubation engine for new products and innovations.

CRG's work piqued the interest of Spirit AeroSystems, one of the world's largest non-OEM designers and manufacturers of aerostructures for commercial aircraft. In 2013, Spirit made public a multi-year partnership with Spintech LLC to develop a new reconfigurable tooling technology for manufacturing integrated composite aircraft structures. The solution uses re-formable, reusable mandrels to form complex, highly integrated composite structures, with features that are not possible with traditional tools. The two companies are still working together on platform development and additional next-generation product development under the trade name Inflexion® by Spirit AeroSystems.

Another key benefit of CRG's tooling technology is its life cycle and reform process. The product, which has a life cycle of about 40 cycles per tooling (compared to about 6-10 for the baseline technology), is that it does not fail during composite cure. A reform process is done between cycles, which includes a porosity safe check. This ensures that the Smart Bladder will make it through the cure cycle, and if it is determined that it will not - it won't run. This is a desired feature, since failing during the product cycle results in costly implications.

SpinTech has sold over $10 million worth of its product line to various commercial aerospace customers and others in the automotive and nuclear energy industries as well as trial deployments with NASA for large vertical launch structures. Spirit Aerospace has also invested heavily in its work with Spintech LLC.

Diamond Visionics

Phase III Success: $8.6 million through contracts with the Navy, commercial sales, and licensing agreements Topic Number: N08-146

AT FIRST GLANCE, the vivid image below might appear to be nothing more than an aerial photograph. However, when one learns the image is actually a continuous, computer-generated panorama that aids in flight simulation training, the magnitude of such clarity and detail is truly appreciated. This is what the team at Diamond Visionics (DVC) has been perfecting through multiple SBIR projects with the Navy and subsequent commercial contracts with major prime contractors.

Flight simulation for the warfighter is a critical component of training, and must provide a real-world replication in order to be successful. Building off of its innovative GenesisRTX product line for flight simulation software, Diamond Visionics embarked on another Phase II project with NAVAIR to enhance the existing technology. This time, the focus was on implementing cross-cockpit collimated displays into the existing sys-tem, which provide an even greater level of detail for the user with little to no distortions.

In flight simulators that project Out-The-Window (OTW) scenes, collimated displays are preferable to avoid disparities between a pilot and copilot. For instance, if OTW imagery is projected in front of the pilots side by side, one pilot would see the correct view, while the other would be subject to incorrect angles and distorted images. Collimated displays provide a solution to this issue by allowing the pilots to see the imagery through a mirror that has a spherical curvature. The curvature enables both pilots to see the same imagery at a distant focus with no distortions. However, up until this point, the use of expensive collimated displays to enhance the fidelity of visual systems was limited to the final phases of training due to budgetary restrictions.

To achieve a more ubiquitous use of the technology, Diamond Visionics teamed with Q4 Services on a companion Phase II project to enhance the existing system and provide it at a lower cost. Using Q4's hard-ware and DVC's software, the team set out to improve upon wide-angle horizontal displays on flight simulators. These displays involve a very large spherical mirror and screen, and projectors on the inside of the screen located above the pilot and co-pilot. The screen serves as the image surface for the spherical mirror, which in turn allows the pilots to look through their window at the spherical mirror to see the screen. This makes everything appear to be coming from an infinite distance away - the scene moves with the pilot's head and allows for a seamless, more realistic user experience. To perfect the system, the team designed the screens in a special way with frosted plexiglass, and utilized special curvature designs to extend the mirrors beyond the manufacturer's limits, building upon both companies' previous SBIR work.

This collaboration, called the EarthAngel Flyer, was an advanced technology project in the European Union to create the "Next Generation Visualization System." This program provided the opportunity to give the simulation industry the most efficient and latest commercial off-the-shelf visual training technology, which included the work of Diamond Visionics, Q4 Services, and Technology Partners, Inc.

The system is a reduced cost approach to the design of new and replacement visual systems for flight simulation. It uses commercial off-the-shelf projection systems and newly designed, low-cost back projection screens and image generation systems. The technology affords extended life to existing flight simulation devices while significantly enhancing overall visual system performance and training. The warfighter perceives a less distorted view of the virtual world, more realistic levels of brightness, resolution and fidelity, and fewer distortions and of the visual scenes in real time with maximum content.

DVC's multiple SBIR awards have resulted in its continued participation in the Navy Transition Assistance Program (Navy TAP), where the eventual commercialization of the technology is top priority. In 2011, Diamond Visionics presented its innovation at the Navy Opportunity Forum®, where hundreds of attendees in both the government and commercial sectors were able to view the prototype.

"The Navy Opportunity Forum® made it possible for us to get our newly developed products in front of business executives and military decision makers," says David Gdovin, President of Diamond Visionics. "This is how solutions that solve problems, save money, and sometimes save lives get recognized quickly."

The new collimated display system employed the proven software previously developed by DVC, which is part of its Genesis product suite. This visualization software has the unique ability to run on COTS hardware and to cost effectively render the OTW scene "on-the-fly" from GIS Source Data. This real-time rendering allows the user to rapidly change data sets with continuity so all that is required is a refresh. This eliminates the need to create an offline database, which can take months to complete.

Diamond Visionics' Genesis product line is currently being used by Boeing in many different divisions all over North America. In addition, it's used by other large aviation companies/countries around the world for helicopter and fast jet aviation tactical training. The company is also fulfilling many large commercial contracts and has sold over 2,500 licenses to prime contractors.

The cutting-edge image-generation software and visualization tools developed by the team at Diamond Visionics are in constant demand for the highest levels of training and simulation, mission rehearsal, and homeland security.

KCF Technologies, Inc.

Phase III Success: $10.6 million in contracts with the Navy, commercial sales, and licensing agreements Topic Number: N08-006

IMAGINE THE IMMENSE BENEFITS to the fleet if helicopters had insight into their own health and could say with absolute clarity, "I need maintenance." With this idea in mind, the experts at KCF Technologies got to work and developed a technology that would soon give a "voice" to machines. The team knew that a technology like this had the capacity to save the military thousands of dollars by moving away from an aggressive preventative maintenance schedule, and moving toward condition-based maintenance.

Currently, the Department of Defense implements preventative maintenance to ensure safety and optimal performance among its helicopter fleet. However, flight conditions vary widely depending on how each helicop-ter is used, and one chopper may see a lot more stress than another. The preventative maintenance schedule is set based on worst-case operating conditions, which leads to overly conservative and costly maintenance in most cases or failure in other extremely severe operating conditions. With condition-based maintenance, failures are cost effectively prevented.

So how does this seemingly futuristic technology work? By putting self-powered wireless sensors on the main rotor and monitoring the load, or the strain that passes through the pitch link rod arm. All of the load that is seen during flight on the wings passes through the pitch link, so the load can be monitored and the stress to the main rotor can be determined and communicated wirelessly. Energy is then harvested from that strain, so the stress that is created is harvested as kinetic energy to power the sensor. The model is completely contained, and the operating life of the helicopter is extended.

Maintenance is only performed when it is needed, as opposed to being performed on an aggressive sched-ule. The ability to detect problems and prevent failure has significant safety and cost benefits, since the cost of failure is extremely high, both in lives and dollars.

When KCF Technologies presented its innovation at the 2011 Navy Opportunity Forum®, they were met with substantial interest from many attendees.

"Our core strategy is to identify prime contractors, and the Forum is a great venue to do that," explains David Shannon, Vice President of Business Development and Marketing for KCF Technologies. "We are enabling machinery to have the ability to sense its condition and relay that condition to the operator, so it's applicable to ships as well. The Forum presents an opportunity to in-teract with others who may not be our direct sponsors, but who could certainly benefit from our technology."

KCF has collaborated with primes including Sikorsky Aircraft, LORD, and a handful of others both in the military and commercial sectors. They are currently implementing sensors on Black Hawk and H-53 helicopters through various contracts with NAVAIR and funding from Sikorsky.

After evolving over the years from various SBIR awards, the technology seamlessly transitioned to the commercial marketplace due to the fact that all machines, no matter the industry, require maintenance at some point. KCF realized that making machines smarter about their own health was a coveted feature that would increase applicability across many spectrums. KCF's SmartDiagnostics® product line is a suite of energy harvester powered wireless condition-based maintenance sensor systems.

According to the DOE, the cost of reactive maintenance on machinery is $750 billion on the US economy per year. If you add in the indirect costs associated with downtime and shutting down operations, etc., then that number rises to about $2.5 trillion per year.

The SmartDiagnostics® suite of products can be found in moving parts within large industrial fans/air handling units, water pumps, paper plants, big rollers and the bearings within, unconventional natural gas drilling units, trains, and the large motor units within those trains.

To ensure high-bandwidth, high-reliability wireless communication at the lowest possible energy budget, SmartDiagnostics® sensors utilize a highly efficient, proprietary wireless protocol. The protocol is optimized to transmit full dynamic vibration spectrum using only the power available from KCF's energy harvesters.

The power generation industry stands to reap enormous benefits from condition-based maintenance and the self-powered sensors that enable it, as failure of any of the large, moving parts could cause a huge disturbance in the process.

Transitioning technologies to the commercial marketplace is one of the fundamental components of KCF's business strategy and it has served them well. Every Phase II project KCF has embarked upon has resulted in a successfully launched commercial product.

"We are an innovation engine," says Shannon. "We want to see that innovation serve the government as well as the commercial marketplace. We develop technology, leverage government programs, and then align with strategic partners who execute large-scale projects. It is a win/win for all, and we value the SBIR program because it gives us the tools we need to commercialize."

Optical Physics Company

Phase III Success: Over $3 million through contracts with the Navy and private investments Topic Number: N08-073

GLOBAL POSITIONING SYSTEM (GPS) is heavily relied upon by airborne Navy platforms in order to accurately gauge one's location on the Earth. This location knowledge usually includes heading, altitude, and the latitude and longitude of the Earth coordinates directly below the aircraft. GPS also impacts the success of many military missions, such as target tracking and missile and projectile guidance, making its presence a vital component of any military operation. But what happens when GPS becomes unavailable, whether from jamming, or entering a GPS-denied environment? The INS (Inertial Navigation System) component of GPS will accumulate errors, which degrade the accuracy of the system output. The longer the GPS signals are not available, the worse the error becomes.

Optical Physics Company (OPC), located in Calabasas, California, drew upon a centuries-old method to locate a solution and alternative for GPS navigation. Celestial Navigation is a process by which positions on the globe are measured using angles between celestial objects in the sky and the horizon. Whereas the archaic technique required a sextant, an almanac, and a clock, OPC developed a modern-day system using its patented interferometric star tracker. The resulting product is OPC's Optical Celestial Navigation System (OCNS), and it has been met with high demand across multiple industries. The OCNS operates independently of GPS, and cannot be jammed. The other major benefit to the fleet is its passiveness - OCNS does not give off any signals that could be detected by an enemy.

OPC's star tracker project got its start in 2006, when the team developed a star tracker design and demonstrated its high accuracy in the lab. A series of prototypes intended for spacecraft use followed. The military soon became very interested in finding alternatives to GPS due to jamming issues, and wanted a way to navigate using the stars. The method that OPC eventually proposed was selected by ONR, and the company began its Phase I SBIR work on a shortwave infrared (SWIR) band interferometric star tracker.

OPC continued working on its star tracker, and through a subsequent Phase II award, produced its prototype for use on airborne platforms. During the Phase II project, OPC participated in the Navy

Transition Assistance Program (Navy TAP), and presented a prototype design of the OCNS at the 2011 Navy Opportunity Forum®. However, it was the online presence within the Virtual Acquisition Showcase (VAS) leading up to the Forum that really catapulted the company into the limelight.

"While being at the Forum was great, being online as part of the Virtual Acquisition Showcase was even better," says Dr. Gail Erten, Marketing Director for Optical Physics. "A lot of interested customers are looking at that online showcase, doing the research ahead of time for keywords, or even looking at the whole list, and zooming in on specific booths. Those are the kind of customers we felt were real potentials for us."

Serendipitously, Northrop Grumman was browsing the VAS online, and called up Optical Physics directly. They noticed they were located only a short distance from their Los Angeles facilities, and proposed an in-person meeting, well before the actual Forum took place. The collaboration resulted in a Navy Rapid Innovation Fund (RIF) contract award and Phase III revenue for Optical Physics.

Under the Navy RIF, OPC's Optical Celestial Navigation System was outfitted with Northrop Grumman's inertial measurement unit (IMU) instruments resulting in a complete navigation system pro-totype, which will be field tested on stationary and moving ground base platforms followed by a flight test in mid 2014.

The major benefit of the star tracker system to customers is that it can be configured in a variety of ways depending on the platform. OPC has experimented with several alternative techniques to use the OCNS for navigation in GPS-denied environments, and is formulating different types of the system for those applications. They are also working with the Air Force for other applications of their star tracker for sensors serving space situational awareness missions.

Additionally, there exists vast potential for the interferometric star tracker's use on spacecraft. OPC is currently working on a miniature interferometric star tracker for cubesats (C-MiST) that will be delivered late this year.

Current projects on configuring the star tracker will result in a full product suite of OPC's interferometric star tracker that supports a variety of applications, ranging from spacecraft to ground based space situational awareness to celestial navigation, allowing both military operations and space exploration initiatives the certainty of unobstructed and precise geolocation capabilities.

Out of the Fog Research LLC

Phase III Success: Over $9.5 million through contracts with the Navy Topic Number: N07-149

THE RECEPTION AND TRANSMISSION of signals through a shipboard's electromagnetic system requires acquisition and Direction Finding (DF) signals at or near the thermal noise floor. The overall system must have a low noise figure and high spurious free dynamic range. To achieve this, an extremely harsh electromagnetic environment over a broad aperture is needed, requiring the Radio Frequency Distribution System (RFDS) to extend its operating frequency range. This extension requires new and innovative approaches to Electromagnetic Interference (EMI) mitigation.

Electromagnetic Interference impacts military missions by reducing available data rates and preventing signal interception in some channels entirely. Since most channels are shared, this interference impacts many users simultaneously. If this interference could be removed from the band without impacting the signal detection, or if that portion of the band could be removed without impacting the radio, the utility of the channels would be greatly increased.

When the Navy sought a solution, Out of the Fog Research LLC (OFR), a small business based in Silicon Valley, California, knew it could provide the needed technology. Focused on the development of advanced RF technology solely for the government, and particularly on High-Temperature Superconductivity (HTS) and cryogenic technology, Out of the Fog Research had been working on a similar hardware system designed for lower frequencies. Although the new project, funded by Navy SBIR awards, required the company to venture into new, higher frequency ranges, the resulting system not only achieved admirable success, but also struck some major interest across the Department of Defense.

"In addition to the Navy, both the Air Force and the Army need effective EMI mitigation technology to reduce co-located interference, common battle group generated interference, and jamming signals," explains Dr. Stuart Berkowitz, President of OFR. "By removing this interference, the probability of detecting Signals of Interest (SOI) is increased, which is critical to the warfighter."

OFR's hardware, which is easily mounted into the radome of the antenna, provides an extra capability without having to overhaul the entire system. The hardware essentially conditions the signal so that the interference is removed and the signal users want to listen to can be intercepted.

During the Phase II SBIR program, OFR presented its concept at the 2011 Navy Opportunity Forum®. Although the presentation drew high praise, perhaps the biggest benefit to come out of the Forum for the company was an incidental meeting with the Navy Rapid Innovation Fund (RIF) Program Manager, who informed OFR about the opportunity for additional funding. With that knowledge, the company pursued the RIF and ultimately acquired a $1.5 million contract.

The RIF project resulted in a full prototype delivered to the Navy. Currently, the lead system integrator is working with the Navy to purchase production versions of the hardware. They hope to achieve their goal of delivering 10 systems a year by 2015. In addition, the Navy Cryptological Carry-On Program (CCOP) has purchased numerous units of the lower frequency version over a multi-year order. As for its low frequency system, Out of the Fog Research has delivered 46 systems under a Phase III production contract.

Out of the Fog Research LLC is unique in its business strategy, in that it aims to provide superior technol-ogy to military and intelligence end-user customers, as opposed to targeting commercial applications. Agency personnel know they can call Dr. Berkowitz and his team directly to develop and deliver advanced solutions for the U.S. government. It is because of this personalized service and 50/50 split between R&D and production, that OFR has experienced continued success since its founding in 2004.

With just 10 employees, Out of the Fog Research has a tremendously high commercialization index of over 95 and generates $4-6 million a year in revenue.

Referentia Systems

Phase III Success: $5.8 million through contracts with the Navy and commercial sales Topic Number: N07-193

WHEN THE TECHNICAL EXPERTS at Referentia Systems originally embarked on their Phase I SBIR with ONR to meet both Quality of Service (QoS) and situational awareness goals within the Navy's networks, they already had their commercial success mapped out in their minds. Although very few companies at that time ever changed their QoS policies, Referentia visualized the immense benefits that doing so would have for both the fleet and private companies alike with the growing use of mobile devices and access to private and public clouds. More strategically, this ease of comprehending networks and reconfiguring/adapting the infrastructure has given Referentia a head start in the rapid growth area of software-defined networks (SDN).

Quality of Service refers to the overall performance of a network, and in overloaded military networks, the priority of information needs to be meticulously managed to ensure optimal communication. The key SBIR goal for the technology was to develop a network management tool for the U.S. Navy that allowed for more dynamic visibility and control over the routers, links, and flows to meet the commander's intent of ship-to-shore and ship-to-ship communications. Referentia had talked to potential customers in the Marines and by identifying and locating the needs, they had a clear understanding of the solution. The result was Referentia's Network Planning and Real-time Automated Management System (NetPARAMS).

"It was a combination of not just being able to change Quality of Service policies or make it more in-teractive, but including the situational awareness of the network so you could first understand how your network is behaving," explains Keith Abe, Program Manager at Referentia Systems. "If there were issues, you could determine which QoS policy you needed to implement, use the QoS control to fix the problem and validate the fix through the dynamic visibility."

Despite the Navy's complex environment of dynamic changes, typically configurations are set and not changed. Referentia realized that the Navy needed to support dynamic changes to QoS, Open Shortest Path First (OSPF) routing, Policy- Based routing (PBR), Access Control List (ACL) management and other configurations to efficiently use the network resources to provide situational awareness and effective mission execution. Referentia's solution could be used across a wide array of platforms, aircraft, and UAVs. NetPARAMS would improve network responsiveness to changing conditions and use of bandwidth over multiple links, resulting in improved quality of real-time applications and joint communications for coalition partners by minimizing human operator intervention and errors.

After winning a Phase II award through SPAWAR, Referentia's participation in the Navy Transition Assistance Program (Navy TAP) prepared them for the high demand they would soon meet from both the military and commercial sectors.

"Being part of the TAP helped us get involved with a process to take a look at how best to commercialize our technology and the best practices to follow," says Abe. "If we just kept developing, we would probably still be in the lab right now. Being part of the TAP helped us have that discipline to look at transitioning the product to acquisition programs and to have a marketing plan and a presentation to go along with that."

Referentia subsequently won a Phase II.5 with SPAWAR, and a RIF contract worth $2.2 million to deploy NetPARAMS within the tactical ashore switching program. Referentia also took advantage of the DoD mentor/protege program, and aligned with Lockheed Martin, which soon became one of Referentia's main supporters. With the help of Lockheed Martin, Referentia was able to plan for insertions into DoD acquisition programs and transition its military technology to a commercial product line, which they called LiveAction.

LiveAction has been used mostly for advanced network management and the company is now starting to market the product for cyber security. For example, LiveAction will work together with cyber sensors in a company's network, helping to provide situational awareness to understand the inside of the network, rather than just looking at its perimeter. If the perimeter is the sole focus for locating threats, then there is only a split-second window to catch that threat. Having situational awareness inside the organizational network allows the user to see and track patterns related to how threats are trying to communicate, facilitating an earlier catch.

Let's say a sensor sees a threat and it is validated through LiveAction's visualization capabilities. The control aspect of the product allows the user to control the threat. They may reduce the QoS, rather than shutting off the threat. By slowing it down, the issue can be observed, or even rerouted to a "honey-pot," which can be isolated and monitored for further analysis. This allows the user to gain intel, rather than just booting the threat. With this same tool, companies can perform network management and implement the most ad-vanced cyber security.

Currently, Referentia, who maintains an NMCI certification, is working with several key customers to implement its cyber security capabilities. Headquartered in Honolulu, Hawaii, Referentia is a certified Small Disadvantaged Business (SDB) with locations across the United States.

Vehicle Control Technologies

Phase III Success: $9.1 million through contracts with the Navy and commercial sales Topic Number: N06-186

UNDERWATER SEA MINES are easy to make and simple to deploy, yet they are notoriously difficult to detect and remove. Even the threat of their use can disrupt global commerce.

There is a worldwide push to make mine countermeasures faster, safer, and more cost effective. With these goals in mind, the U.S. Navy is investing heavily in subsea robotics. Sonars and cameras deployed on Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUVs) and Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROVs) have furthered this mission for decades. Now, with the help of the U.S. Navy and the SBIR program, VCT has developed and commercialized a new type of vehicle to aid in the fight - the Powered Tow Body (PTB).

PTB challenges several old assumptions about mine countermeasures technology. The first is that towed bodies make poor platforms for high-resolution, side-looking synthetic aperture sonar (SAS) because they are unsteady due to wave-induced motions. Another misconception is that towed bodies (especially light-weight ones) must trail far behind the ship, rendering the process of looking ahead of the ship impractical. These assumptions have engendered a preference for AUVs to perform mine countermeasures, resulting in short missions due to battery life, a lack of real-time data analysis, and an ever-present risk of total vehicle loss. PTB technology overcomes these outdated beliefs.

Combining the best aspects of towed and autonomous vehicles, PTB is a towed platform for underwater sensors that can operate at a fixed position relative to the towing craft. It can do this because it has a propeller, active control fins, and sophisticated software that allow it to remain steady. Like an AUV, it can run SAS to image the seafloor and use forward-looking sonar to look ahead of the tow craft. Like a towed vehicle, it can run indefinitely on topside power and deliver data in real-time.

PTB's innovations stemmed from VCT's previous modeling, analysis, and design of more than one hundred classical tow body vehicles. Because a classical tow body is attached to a surface vessel by a cable, it sways and pitches due to ship motion. In contrast, the Powered Tow Body uses propulsive thrust and control software to create a stable loop in the cable, eliminating about 80% of the induced motion. And with more thrust, the vehicle can move deeper and farther forward without additional heft and bulk.

After completing a Phase I and II with NAVSEA, Vehicle Control Technologies focused on commercializing its product. The company's participation in the Navy Transition Assistance Program (Navy TAP) and the Navy Opportunity Forum® facilitated that vision by providing the necessary focus and preparation needed for transition.

"We made some great contacts at the Navy Opportunity Forum ®, and we have several outstanding proposals that resulted from the event," explains Dr. Douglas E. Humphreys, President of Vehicle Control Technologies.

Since then, VCT has sold three of its Powered Tow Bodies, resulting in over $5.6 million in commercial sales. They also received a Phase III ONR contract worth $2.4 million to further develop the PTB concept.

The U.S. Navy helped develop PTB to accelerate large-area mine clearance operations. In a mine clear-ance scenario, a PTB would be deployed on board an Unmanned Surface Vessel (USV). The USV could speed to the minefield from a safe standoff distance and deploy and recover the PTB autonomously.

In the export market, PTB has found an application as a towed sonar on mine-hunting ships. Its ability to stay underneath the ship while near the seafloor makes it a valuable tool to look ahead of the ship and detect mines.

"We have a truly multipurpose sonar system that can travel forward of the ship's stern for forward-looking sonar and also perform the side-scan mission," explains Humphreys. "The benefit is that heavy variable depth sonars towed at considerable distance behind the ship can now be replaced with a lighter-weight towed unit that operates right below the stern of the tow ship."

In addition to mine hunting, PTB's inherent steadiness, endurance, and real-time data capabilities can also be applied to ISR, ASW, and oceanographic missions. And for customers interested in both PTB and AUV capabilities, PTB can operate equally well as a tethered or autonomous platform.

  • Princeton Power Systems
  • OptiPro Systems
  • Diamond Visionics LLC
  • Aptima, Inc.
  • C3I, Inc.
  • Inovati
  • Adaptive Technologies, Inc.
  • KCF Technologies, Inc.
  • Thermal Wave Imaging, Inc.

Princeton Power Systems

Phase III Success: $25,000,000 in commercial sales Topic Number: N07-130

PRIOR TO THE SUMMER OF 2009, the famed Alcatraz Island, located 1.5 miles off the coast of San Francisco, couldn't shake its dependence on foreign fossil fuels. Over 2,000 gallons of diesel fuel were being imported every week to keep the historical site up and running, at a cost of $0.76 per kWh. While talks had been in the works for years to install a solar-powered microgrid on the island, the feasibility of the project seemed too costly and complicated. However, when Princeton Power Systems demonstrated its expertise and highly sought-after clean energy technology using solar arrays and a battery bank, the project was given the green light. Today, Alcatraz Island runs almost entirely on renewable energy, saving taxpayers 80% on fuel use, and setting the stage for a massive mainstream conversation about microgrids and energy storage systems.

While Princeton Power has certainly reaped the rewards - to the tune of over $25 million in commercial sales - its humble beginnings were funded by various research and development grants, as clean energy was not at the forefront of everyone's mind. In 2009, Princeton Power won a Phase II SBIR award from NAVSEA to develop a system for future all-electric warships. These ships would have a greater demand for compact power conversion equipment, high conversion efficiency, and electrical system flexibility and reliability. The goal was to increase the power density of power converters without compromising the functional performance. AC-link power conversion technology and high-voltage silicon carbide (SiC) switches allowed for a small, more efficient and more flexible product that provided simplified ship design, improved ship efficiency, and improved electrical system control.

While presenting at the 2010 Navy Opportunity Forum, Princeton Power got the chance to demonstrate its vision and put itself front and center of many eager large contractors, which would end up utilizing the same form of technology for many commercial applications.

"The Forum allowed us to interact with several companies, system integrators, prime contractors, and representatives from the Navy and Army," says Darren Hammell, Chief Strategy Officer at Princeton Power Systems. "In general, it was helpful in our branding and to get our message out and make the community aware of who we are and what we're doing. We are definitely seeing the benefits of that now."

Princeton Power continued its development of a whole platform of power conversion technologies, and it was met with high demand in the commercial marketplace, enabling a very high transition rate (90%) for its product line.

Today, the company is working in three main sectors - microgrids, energy storage systems, and electric vehicle charging, which all utilize the same underlying platform. Similar systems to the Alcatraz microgrid have been constructed in the Caribbean, Europe and other parts of North America, including military bases.

Princeton Power is currently working with Lockheed Martin and Northrup Grumman on other projects involving microgrids. There is a huge interest today for these systems in the Northeast, after the devastation caused by Super Storm Sandy. Solar arrays still require electric grids to generate power, so users are still prone to losing power. Princeton's systems can run with and without an electric grid, and are therefore safe from power outages. Instead, users can "disconnect" from the grid using a combination of solar arrays and batteries, which are part of their microgrid technology. There is also a large demand for this in San Diego and across California, due to the large wildfires that have been sweeping across the land and destroying power lines.

Stationary battery banks can also be tied up directly to the electric grid. In addition to providing back up power for local businesses, these batteries can be dispatched to provide services to the electric utility companies and grid operators by correcting irregularities in the grids. One battery system can provide a number of different services, leveraging recent advances in battery technology. For instance with lithium ion or advanced batteries - as performance continues to go up, and prices come down, there has been increasing demand for stationary energy storage. Princeton's technology provides the interface between those batteries and the electric grid. Electric vehicle charging is becoming more dynamic and Princeton Power is working on new standards for car chargers, including moving more towards a universal "fast" car charger that is compatible with all electric cars. Recently, the City of San Diego and Clean Tech San Diego partnered to complete the "Solar-to-EV Project" - a one-of-a-kind, 90-kilowatt solar canopy in the zoo parking lot shared by the San Diego Zoo and Balboa Park. The innovative system uses Princeton Power Systems' DRI-100, an inverter specifically designed to enable fast charging of electric vehicles from renewable sources. The very first of its kind in the country, the Solar-to-EV Project allows electric vehicles to operate directly from renewable solar energy, and could prove to be the platform for future sustainable energy solutions.


Phase III Success: $5 million through contracts with the U.S. Navy, prime contractors, and private sales Topic Number: N04-172

NEXT GENERATION MISSILES, with their aerodynamic infrared domes, provide reduced drag, increased angle of regard for the sensor, and the improved ability to fly through rain and sand. This is accomplished by using new materials such as Spinel and Polycrystalline Alumina, and by utilizing refined aerodynamic shapes, such as the tangent ogive. However, commercial grinding and finishing equipment were limited to processing spherical and hemispherical domes. These systems were typically 3-axis machines, and were not designed for the complex aspheric and conformal shapes that are being designed into next generation military requirements. A new process was needed that could be applied to these shapes, especially the deep concave infrared domes.

OptiPro, with the help of the Navy SBIR program, set out to develop its UltraForm Finishing technology, with 5 axes of computer controlled motion and long-arm tooling design. This finishing process has the unique ability to deterministically finish these newly designed complex geometries. The technology utilizes a large variety of grinding and polishing abrasives and belts that allow for the finishing of a broad range of glass and crystalline materials. In addition, the UltraWheel diameters range from 3/8 inch to several inches, making it very flexible to finish a variety of shapes and contours, and the long extension arm of the wheel allows finishing inside deep concave ogives.

While presenting its now patented technology at the 2010 Navy Opportunity Forum and other trade shows along the way, OptiPro realized the huge potential that UltraForm Finishing could provide to a wide range of companies and government agencies.

"The biggest value of the Forum for us has been the exposure and the opportunity to get in front of primes," explains Mike Bechtold, President of OptiPro. "You also meet other companies and talk to other small businesses, and there may be an opportunity to collaborate or to utilize their technologies and learn how to troubleshoot problems together."

Once NASA saw how the Navy was using UltraForm Finishing to provide solutions to warfighter needs, they realized this new technology made sense for them. OptiPro soon won a Phase I award with NASA to use UltraForm Finishing as a processing technique for several projects, including polishing tapered toroidal shaped mandrels for the International X-ray Observatory (IXO). They are now working on a Phase II SBIR with NASA for this project and other off-axis parabolic mirror applications.

OptiPro has sold 12 of its UltraForm Finishing machines, ranging from $275,000 to $375,000. Several large prime contractors are also using OptiPro's technology internally to fabricate uniquely shaped optical components. These real-world applications are providing solutions to the U.S. Department of Defense - in fact, one subcontract customer used their technology to finish the night vision optics that were used by the U.S. Navy Seals during Operation Neptune Spear.

Another success that stemmed from its various SBIRs was OptiPro's UltraSurf non-contact measuring system. While the company originally set out to develop a way to accurately measure aspherical shapes such as ogives, its accuracy has far exceeded the original goals for the project. The UltraSurf technology is now being viewed as a viable solution for measuring freeform shapes.

Through additional Navy contracts, OptiPro is maturing its UltraForm Finishing process to incorporate a complimentary UltraSmooth Finishing process, in addition to developing OptiSonic, an ultrasonic technology implemented on automatic tool-changing grinding machines. Funding from the U.S. Navy has allowed OptiPro to develop new concepts of machines and also the new process capabilities to go with it. The Navy has been extremely supportive in OptiPro's quest to mature these technologies, even though offshore competition may be stiff in some cases. The company shares this "Made in the USA" pride and takes efforts to keep its unique finishing technology in the United States. OptiPro is currently working on 5 SBIR projects with the Navy.

OptiPro has a unique position in that it is currently the only U.S.-based company providing CNC optical grinding, polishing and metrology solutions for the precision optics industry, including more than fourteen different commercially available products. Sales of OptiPro equipment rapidly grew, as new and innovative products were developed. The impact of OptiPro machine sales has greatly affected the U.S. optical market. Many of its current customers are implementing OptiPro's Computer Controlled optical machining solutions for their production of optics for military night vision, infrared, and missile dome requirements.

Military suppliers currently utilizing OptiPro's optical fabrication solutions include numerous defense contractors, small-to-large precision optics manufacturers, and universities across the United States.

Diamond Visionics LLC

Phase III Success: $6M in contracts with the U.S. Navy, the Canadian Dept. of National Defense, Boeing and others Topic Number: N07-T005

FLIGHT SIMULATORS, which are instrumental in military aircraft training programs, require complex computer generated graphics in order to accurately represent the world for pilots. Topography, coastlines, landmarks and even the exact markings on airfields all have to be on point in order to create a realistic and recognizable world-view.

Six years ago, the incredible amount of computer resources needed to make this happen were not possible. This led the team at Diamond Visionics to develop their texture synthesis-based image generation technology that would soon change the face of geospatial visual simulation.

Realizing customers were always seeking improvement in image generator graphics, Diamond Visionics applied for and won a Navy STTR contract via NAVAIR to help them bring this idea to life. Traditional simulator graphics at the time required an extensive and time-consuming database design process whereby the areas of interest were created offline. Designers would start off with imagery, elevation, and feature data, then run it through expensive tools to create an open flight format database, which is a static file that must be loaded and compiled into memory.

Diamond Visionics' innovation starts off with that same data, but the data are directly loaded onto a raw source data file during run time and rendered on the fly. This real-time rendering allows the user to rapidly change data sets with continuity so all that is required is a refresh. This eliminates the need to create an offline database, which can take weeks or months to complete.

The main benefit to this technology, which later evolved into the GenesisRTX product line, is the ability to load raw source data on the fly. It allows the user to have complete control of the rendering; they can optimize performance by holding a 60-hertz refresh rate, thus displaying the maximum amount of content in the scene.

In addition, whereas past flight simulators would "jump" from city to city, say if a pilot were flying from Jacksonville to Hawaii, the GenesisRTX graphics allow for a continuous flight representation to and from anywhere in the world. If airfields are of particular interest, the software can create an exact replica of the airfield, including signs, navigation aids, runway lengths, markings of taxiways and exact lighting patterns.

Diamond Visionics' relationship with Boeing helped propel the GenesisRTX into the commercial marketplace. The connection began at a trade show in Orlando several years ago. Top executives and engineers from Boeing walked by just as Diamond Visionics was giving a live demonstration. While Boeing realized this had the potential to save them a lot of time and money, they were highly skeptical of the technology. After all, Diamond Visionics was challenging the traditional idea of what was necessary. Boeing began an extensive evaluation with a sample product and was able to use the software successfully, subsequently becoming one of Diamond Visionics' biggest supporters. Boeing saved millions of dollars, and is currently using the system in many different divisions all over their North American enterprise.

The 2009-10 Navy Opportunity Forum, which was the culmination of the 10-month Navy Transition Assistant Program (Navy TAP), was another opportunity for Diamond Visionics to showcase its coveted technology. They were met with many interested attendees and potential customers.

"One thing that helped, in preparing for the Navy Opportunity Forum, was building a quad chart - which is a condensed, crystalized message of what we are doing," explains Tim Woodard, Director of Research and Development at Diamond Visionics. "This helped us to communicate more clearly to the customer what the distinguishing characteristics are of what we've done. The final report on an STTR could be 40-50 pages of technical info - how do you boil that down into a marketable message? Having to pull it down into a quad chart was a great exercise."

In addition to large commercial contracts and the sale of over 2,000 licenses to prime contractors, Diamond Visionics has also entered into agreements with the U.S. and Canadian Governments. The U.S. Navy will use GenesisIG this year on a P3C simulator. This is the same product being fielded by the Canadian Department of National Defense as part of their Canadian Advanced Synthetic Environment (CASE) program. Other clients include top companies in the aerospace industry, and a variety of Fortune 500 corporate clients and commercial airlines.

Aptima, Inc.

Phase III Success: $2.8 million from contract with NAVAIR Topic Number: N07-099

Simulators are crucial for training civilian and military personnel, and they have evolved over the years to provide varying levels of fidelity and training utility. Prior to this SBIR however, there was no standard tool for determining the appropriate level of fidelity in simulators to achieve specified training objectives, maintain trainee acceptance, and fit within budgetary constraints. Since adjusting fidelity to the right level drives budget and optimizes readiness, the team at Aptima was motivated by one simple question - is all that fidelity really necessary? While most pilots would say "yes," Aptima challenged this widespread opinion. Specifically, they wanted to measure the correlation between fidelity and training effectiveness, and how much fidelity could be dialed down without compromising the integrity of the training. This led to the development of PREDICT - Predicting Requirements for Instructional Environment Design to Improve Critical Training.

All simulator-based training programs struggle with the same problem-identifying which objectives can be trained in lower- or higher-fidelity simulators, and which require training in the actual aircraft. Aptima's vision was that PREDICT would be a tool that combines fidelity requirements defined by end-users, existing theory and research about fidelity, and objective performance data from fidelity experiments to support more informed decisions regarding the acquisition and use of training simulators. This was a vast difference from the baseline technology at the time, which provided data exclusively from end-users. This approach is problematic since it typically results in specifications for a simulator that exceed the amount of money available for development and/or acquisition. As a result, acquisition and training professionals must make difficult fidelity trade-off decisions.

PREDICT provides two main capabilities. First, the user can provide information on the fidelity of a simulator and the tool predicts the training effectiveness of that simulator on specific training outcomes. Second, the user can compare the predicted training effectiveness of multiple simulators side-by-side.

After entering into the Navy Transition Assistance Program (Navy TAP), Aptima discovered that a growing number of customers shared its conviction of looking at the relationship between fidelity and training effectiveness, and also the need to measure results objectively. This led to some key conversations with personnel at ONR and NAVAIR. "The most beneficial aspect of the TAP for us was the chance to get to know the folks in the Navy community, and as a result, recognizing there was a very good match between what they needed and what we could provide," says Webb Stacy, Corporate Fellow at Aptima, Inc. "We discovered there was a strong interest in a number of quarters to understand more about fidelity and training effectiveness, and the Navy Opportunity Forum allowed us to connect with others who shared our perspectives."

PREDICT was initially designed to support the F/A-18 community with simulator fidelity trade-off decisions. However, since PREDICT is mission focused (e.g., air-to-ground), versus platform focused, it can assist all aircraft platforms that fly the same missions as the F/A-18, including the F-35, F-16 and F-22.

Aptima entered into a $2.8 million contract with NAVAIR to use PREDICT in landing carrier training. Currently, Aptima is in its second year of a 4-year Future Naval Capabilities project with ONR, focused on Live, Virtual, Constructive (LVC) training. This time, they are on the other end of the fidelity equation, investigating how fidelity can be dialed up for difficult tasks such as an F/A-18 landing on a carrier. Currently, there is no way around the fact that carrier landing training must happen in an actual aircraft. Aptima is leading the research to figure out how much the fidelity would have to be increased and how in order to complete a significant portion of this training in a simulator.

Aptima brings together a unique team of people experienced at applying and evaluating applications of cutting-edge technologies in the military, national security, aviation and medical communities. The collective expertise of the firm's staff has been applied in multiple engineering domains including military command and control, complex information display, decision support, emergency preparedness, organizational design, technology evaluation, performance measurement, and cognitive skills and cultural training. Over 85% of Aptima's contracts have been from agencies across the Department of Defense.

C3I, Inc.

Phase III Success: $8.1 million in contracts with the Navy and commercial sales Topic Number: N04-081

When C3I embarked on its original SBIR with NAVSEA, the company had a goal to develop an integrated, re-configurable, flexible lighting control system for shipboard applications. Existing flight deck lighting equipment at the time was comprised of stand alone, non-integrated equipment that required a large number of personnel to meet the safety requirements and operational demands of deck personnel and flight crews operating in specialized warfare conditions. Additionally, there was a specific need to develop a system for vessels performing both air operations and well-deck operations. The complexity and tempo of operations indicated they would require a highly integrated lighting and equipment control system to be capable of safely and efficiently controlling divergent systems from a common centralized control station, with a reduced number of personnel.

The result was C3I's patented Advanced Lighting System (ALS)/Advanced Communication and Control System (ACCS) - a comprehensive ship-wide integrated lighting control system that incorporated the required elements of a mature system. The ALS can be used in Visual Landing Aid/Next Generation Visual Landing Aid (VLA/NGVLA) systems aboard helicopter carrying ships, and can be used for fixed wing ships. The system can also integrate related and supporting ship systems into a common control and communication system.

The ALS/ACCS provides an integrated software suite including all closed loop device driver software, communication algorithms, application programs, and control panel Graphical User Interfaces (GUIs). The ALS/ACCS software suite provides embedded lighting/control system configuration tools, designated the ALS/ACCS "Tool Box" which gives the system designer the ability to design, customize, and maintain the shipboard lighting/control system without the need to write new software. This includes the ability to create new groups; design and layout group control pages; assign controlled devices to specific super-groups, groups and sub-groups; define control transfer methodologies; and configure individual device capabilities.

"We believe the market cap for our technology is very large and we are aggressively pursuing those opportunities," says Michael J. Curry, President of C3I. "At the time we won this SBIR, we were a $300,000 company, and today we are over $3.5 million and growing at double digits each year."

ALS/ACCS technology is currently being fielded by the U.S. Navy for control of navigation lights, personnel safety barriers, flight deck visual landing aides including deck lighting, glide slope indicators, large screen displays, boat launch and recovery lighting, ship interior lighting and robotic firefighting systems. A test suite of C3I's technology is currently being installed onboard the USS WASP (LHD-1), a large deck amphibious ship for the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF-35) Program. The company has installed a flight deck lighting system at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida for JSF-35 training and is pursuing other JSF training locations to market the technology. In addition, other commercial companies such as Temeku Technologies, Remote Source Lighting, Akron Brass, and Maritime Applied Physics Corporation have all partnered with C3I to utilize its lighting and control system technology. C3I also received a contract in early 2012 from General Dynamics Bath Iron Works to integrate their flight deck equipment and systems on the DDG 1000 into ACCS. "We are still following up on many of the initiatives that started at the Navy Opportunity Forum," says Charles Wagner, CEO and CTO of C3I. "There is a very good chance of collaboration and working with other companies you meet through the Forum. We are currently pursuing some very large contracts that we feel are a good fit for our technology." After working with individuals in the Navy and particularly within NAVAIR, C3I was able to further develop its technology, and the result has been high demand among very eager consumers, especially within the Department of Defense. C3I believes its ALS/ACCS technology results in significant construction and manpower savings in shipboard applications, while at the same time enabling U.S. Navy vessels to meet high tempo operations that employ rapidly re-configurable lighting technologies successfully and safely. In addition, it significantly reduces high power cable quantities, reduces and simplifies control cable requirements, reduces operational manpower requirements, reduces lighting maintenance, improves lighting system reliability and situational awareness, and dramatically improves lighting flexibility and capability. C3I is continuing its work with NAVAIR through the Aviation Lighting System Control Panel Set (ALS CPS).

"We were enormously fortunate to have worked with people at NAVAIR who are national treasures," says Curry. "They helped us to develop our technology, and if they hadn't been there, we would not be here today."

Curry went on to thank Kim Reymann, George Bray, Kurt Harting, Cathy Malvasio, and the entire Command team at NAVAIR Lakehurst for their support and guidance during the SBIR process and during follow-on contracts.

C3I's expertise includes real time, embedded systems using COTS platforms, as well as software development, energy management technology, shipboard control and navigation equipment, and directed thrust control systems. C3I's equipment and systems support submarines, surface ships, gas turbine and nuclear power plants, autonomous vehicles, and passenger ferries. They have designed and manufactured precision, critical controls and instruments in four major products lines: Advanced Communication and Control Systems, Interior Communications, Distributed Data Acquisition, and Bridge Display Systems.


Phase III Success: Over $10.5 million in contracts with the U.S. Navy and private sales Topic Number: N07-122

When complex components on Navy aircraft are damaged by corrosion, wear, or other mechanical failures, repairs must happen immediately in order for the parts to be put back into service. The current field repair process for Ion-Vapor-Deposition Aluminum (IVD-Al) coatings, however, is environmentally problematic, as well as potentially harmful to the repair personnel. The process required involves brush electroplating of hazardous cadmium or using variations of nickel-based materials to repair these IVD-Al coatings. When the Navy expressed a desire to reduce human exposure to cadmium and eliminate the entire electroplating process, Inovati embarked on several SBIR projects - first in 2006, and again in 2009 - to introduce a much sought-after solution. This solution was called Kinetic Metallization (KM), which is a process that performs dimensional restoration of holes, grooves and defects in magnesium and aluminum alloy materials and repairs corrosion-protective coatings on high-strength steels.

Kinetic Metallization is a solid-state process that does not metallurgically alter the properties of the coatings or the substrate. Inert gas is used to spray metallic powders, which eliminates deposition-induced oxide formation. In addition, KM implemented with a debris recovery system is ecologically sustainable and does not chemically degrade the environment.

Inovati knew its technology had huge potential benefits to both the Department of Defense and within the commercial marketplace. Kinetic Metallization technology for in-service field and depot repairs of minor damage or corrosion control coatings on aircraft components reduces maintenance costs and allows military aircraft to remain in operational service for longer periods before major overhaul. Commercial deployment of both fixed and portable Kinetic Metallization systems and powder alloy formulations allow repairs of minor defects in magnesium and aluminum alloy castings and parts and provides a method of applying or restoring corrosion control coatings on many types of products.

In 2009, Inovati completed its second stint in the Navy Transition Assistance Program (Navy TAP) with the goal of maturing the KM process and finding the right customers. The 2010 Navy Opportunity Forum followed the 10-month program, and Inovati got its first big break. After making a very strategic connection with interested attendees from Aerojet, Inovati aligned itself with the prime contractor and subsequently developed ceramic composite materials together.

"Our experiences with the TAP allowed us a greater customer base for our KM products," says Howard Gabel, Inovati President. "It has helped us to acquire Phase III funding for Kinetic Metallization systems for deployment at the NAVAIR Fleet Readiness Center in San Diego and in our development and repair of the F-18 Hornet. Overall, our experiences with the Navy have been positive, and the Navy has helped us expand our customer base and funding efforts."

The Navy came onboard when they learned of the cost savings that KM technology provides. To illustrate, the replacement cost for F-18 AMAD Gearbox housing is $80,000. These units can be repaired for approximately $2,500 using the KM process, resulting in a net savings of $77,500 per unit. Turn-around schedules for refurbishment and repair of F-18 AMAD housing is reduced from 15 months for replacement to one month for repair. Currently, the NAVAIR Fleet Readiness Center at North Island has applied for capital equipment funding in 2014 to procure a KM system, which would permit dimensional restoration repairs of the F-18 AMAD housings at the depot.

KM technology was recently used to restore worn and damaged surfaces on Super Hornet hydraulic gear pump shafts with a wear resistant tungsten carbide cobalt coating. Additional developments are underway to dimensionally restore damage to journal bearing shafts for F-18 electrical generators and to provide a wear and corrosion resistant protective coating on the tail hook pivot assembly.

In addition to the Naval Aviation depots, other DoD branches including the Air Force and Army depots can directly benefit from providing an environmentally sustainable method of repairing damaged coatings and non-structural components on fixed-wing and rotary aircraft or other ground-based vehicles at depot or field-level. Many of the IVD-Al plating manufacturers have expressed a need for repairing damaged OEM IVD-Al coatings on aircraft parts without having to rework the entire component.

Inovati has leveraged its proprietary solid-state coating process to develop eco-friendly turnkey KM systems for deposition of low temperature coatings and materials for repair and protection of components. Current customers span a large market spectrum including electronics, aerospace, oil and gas, power generation, military, medical, and automotive. Inovati has developed and commercialized several models of KM Coating Systems, which are currently marketed to industry, government, and academic entities.

Adaptive Technologies, Inc.

Phase III Success: $5.56 Million in contracts with NAVAIR, Air Force, and commercial sales Topic Number: N04-255

Maintainers working on flight decks have the critical responsibility to maintain flight operations for the U.S. Navy. Working side by side with massive machines, they are exposed to some of the most hazardous and demanding conditions on Earth. This high-stress work environment requires advanced personal protective equipment to keep maintainers safe. Flight Deck Cranial (FDC) systems, designed to provide head and hearing protection to the maintainer workforce, have not kept pace with advancements in aircraft power, velocity and noise. FDCs are also unable to cope with the introduction of night vision devices (NVD), since they were designed at a time before NVDs were introduced, and therefore only hearing protection was considered. The result was an unsuccessful attempt at properly adjusting NVDs for use during night operations while adjusting the Hearing Protection Devices (HPD) for proper hearing protection. The two facets were being forced to work together even though neither was designed with the other in mind. Poor fit, bad hygiene, and the fact that these systems have never met any form of industry or military standard for head protection, all led Adaptive Technologies, Inc. (ATI) to embark on an SBIR funded by NAVAIR for improved safety and system integration for the FDC.

ATI's FDC system dramatically improves hearing protection, speech intelligibility, and impact protection, as well as provides a stable mounting platform for use of Night Vision Devices. A modular design allows for specific tailoring of hearing protection and speech intelligibility performance to meet mission needs. The FDC may also be used with Chemical, Biological, and Radiological protection equipment, as well as current and future communication interfaces.

Noise generated in and around military aircraft presents a significant risk to short and long-term hearing health and creates an environment in which communication becomes intractable. Improved hearing protection addresses the Veterans Administration's growing hearing related injury claims, which exceeded $2 billion in 2010. The FDC technology was originally sought to address this growing issue. As the program progressed, the Navy recognized an additional need to upgrade its head protection. Fueled by SBIR funding, ATI defined three distinct levels of hearing protection and communications performance, followed by a comprehensive list of features required to bring head and hearing protection in line with modern standards and ancillary man-mounted systems.

The resulting system currently meets all requirements for head impact protection, hearing protection and speech intelligibility in these extremely dangerous environments. The compatibility features of the design permits use with current and future hearing protector designs and communication systems, as well as flight deck goggle systems. It also addresses comfort of fit across a wide anthropometric range.

ATI's FDC system, which is comprised of the DC-2 single hearing protector and the Argonaut Communications Headset, was tested aboard multiple Navy assets, including the USS Kearsarge and the USS Enterprise. After a 2-and-a-half week deployment and multiple professional assessments by the fleet, ATI demonstrated wide acceptance of the technology. As a result, ATI transitioned all systems to Aegisound LLC, from whom all systems are now available for procurement. Different parts of the product suite are in production and being sold to both the U.S. Navy and other partner countries.

Aegisound product sales of DC-2 and CTE30X hearing protectors to NAVAIR and APC-2G head protectors to the Air Force, have exceeded $5.3 million. The Air Force has also provided another $3 million in Phase II funding to Aegisound to support further manufacturing improvements in digital active noise reduction technologies developed by ATI during NAVAIR sponsored SBIR programs. Today, there are tens of thousands of Aegisound hearing protectors incorporating ATI's technologies aboard Navy ships. ATI also partnered with Lockheed Martin on its Joint Strike Fighter Program, and Lockheed Martin has purchased hundreds of Digital Active Noise Reduction (DANR) Double Hearing Protector (DHP) systems from Aegisound, which are designed to be used in extreme noise environments such as jet noise up to 140 dB(A).

Although ATI's contacts with prime contractors preceded the Navy Opportunity Forum, the company still recognizes the benefits of such a platform. "Overall, the TAP does a good job of educating companies on what they need to do to get to Phase III," says Mike Abbott, President & Director of New Product Development at Adaptive Technologies. "The Forum is a great opportunity for small businesses to showcase their technologies."

Adaptive Technologies, Inc. is a small business located in Blacksburg, VA. Since 1997, the engineering staff has completed numerous consulting contracts and has been awarded Phase II SBIR contracts by all of the various DOD agencies. Adaptive Technologies, Inc. provides R&D, design and engineering, and consultation on products and problems associated with noise control, hearing protection, signal processing, and control theory.

KCF Technologies, Inc.

Phase III Success: Over $3 million from commercial contracts Topic Number: N07-076

In recent years, information infrastructure has grown dramatically based on providing new opportunities for cost savings and performance enhancements across a wide range of systems and devices. A key part of the new information infrastructure enabling this revolution is cost effective and reliable acquisition and dissemination of information. At an asset level, this is being facilitated by the transition from hardwired sensors to energy harvester powered wireless sensors, which addresses four implementation barriers: 1) weight, 2) installation time/cost, 3) reliability, and 4) opportunity for temporary fit. For example, energy harvester powered wireless sensors are enabling the expansion of Health and Usage Monitoring Systems (HUMS) on rotorcraft to provide comprehensive condition monitoring, thereby enhancing safety and reducing maintenance costs.

KCF acquired a Phase II contract with ONR for further development of its energy harvesting technology, and subsequently joined the Navy Transition Assistance Program (Navy TAP). By collaborating with NAVAIR technical experts, KCF matured its technology - an ultra-compact power harvesting device enabled by single-crystal piezoelectric material. Single-crystal piezoelectric materials are a key technology in reducing the size and weight of vibration energy harvesters. The high, single-crystal piezoelectric coupling coefficient and low elastic compliance result in a four-fold improvement in device power density over conventional solutions. The compactness and high power of single-crystal piezoelectric materials particularly benefit aircraft applications where weight reductions and high reliability are critical. KCF has filed 2 patents on the technology.

KCF successfully showcased its technology at the 2010 Navy Opportunity Forum. A significant outcome of the Forum for KCF was the initiation of development partnerships based on the TAP's one-on-one sessions. These partnerships have since evolved into very mature relationships that are leveraging its energy harvester work. Today, almost one third of KCF's business is specific to supporting sensor development efforts that resulted from the Navy Opportunity Forum.

"Developing strong working relationships with OEMs provides the best transition opportunities for a company of our size, and that is one of the main benefits of the TAP," says Dr. Jacob Loverich, Director of Engineering for KCF. "From a technical standpoint, this ONR sponsored SBIR development has led to energy harvesting, which has become a key enabling technology to support truly wireless communication for helicopter vibration monitoring."

The success with the energy harvester development is supporting not only military specific applications but also commercial applications. One such application is Condition Based Maintenance (CBM) in industrial facilities. Thanks to the energy harvesting and wireless communication, vibration sensors for characterizing the condition of machines can now be deployed at a fraction of the life cycle cost of conventional sensors.

Reactive maintenance processes inherently lead to unplanned downtime and lost production - inefficiencies that cost the United States economy as much as $2.5 Trillion per year (as estimated by the DoE Industrial Technologies Program). To help companies eliminate these costs and enhance productivity, KCF Technologies introduced an energy harvester powered wireless CBM sensor system called SmartDiagnostics.

KCF SmartDiagnostics was designed using innovative low power energy management technology that is fundamental to energy harvester powered devices to provide an affordable and integrated suite of products that puts predictive maintenance within practical reach of medium and small operations - anyone that demands the best protection and longest life from key machinery.

In addition to the single crystal vibration energy harvester, SmartDiagnostics includes other harvester options such as thermal and solar which use some of the core technology in the single crystal vibration harvester. The harvesters are all designed to deliver near-continuous power to wireless sensors or other low power devices. They can be mixed and matched so you choose the right harvester for the environment. The harvesters leverage KCF's patent pending technology to ensure rapid charge-up for initial sensor readings and long energy storage of excess harvested energy to ensure sensor operation for times when environmental energy is not available. The harvesters are engineered to be very robust - suitable out-of-the-box for installation in harsh industrial settings.

To ensure high-bandwidth, high-reliability wireless communication at the lowest possible energy budget, KCF's SmartDiagnostics sensors utilize a highly efficient, proprietary wireless protocol. The protocol is optimized to transmit full dynamic vibration spectrum using only the power available from KCF's energy harvesters.

KCF Technologies' leadership has demonstrated a strong track record of commercializing technology from SBIR-funded projects. Every Phase 2 SBIR/STTR project completed by KCF has resulted in a successfully launched commercial product. KCF's SmartDiagnostics product line incorporates technology that was developed under the SBIR program. It is providing improved uptime and reduced maintenance costs in a wide range of markets including waste water, pulp and paper, industrial chillers, and oil and gas. The KCF Smart Tether, initiated with Navy ONR STTR funding, is currently available as an underwater GPS navigation system for VideoRay ROVs and divers. After a product launch in 2008, over 180 systems have been delivered for use by police departments, port security units, and the U.S. Coast Guard.

Thermal Wave Imaging, Inc.

Phase III Success: $3,600,000 from sales to prime contractors and development funding Topic Number: N06-T011

Like many small businesses, Thermal Wave Imaging, Inc. (TWI) had an idea and a product that they felt could provide huge potential benefits to the Department of Defense. The challenge was finding its entry-point into the market. Turbine blade manufac-turing requires numerous inspections at several stages of the manufacturing process, each requiring different technology, equipment, training and personnel. Based on their experience in providing thermographic inspec-tion systems to the turbine industry, scientists at TWI realized that their thermography technology could per-form nearly all of the required inspections. The race was on to develop a single system that could consolidate all of these inspections, and streamline the entire manufac-turing process. When the U.S. Navy heard its proposal, an initial STTR was granted to TWI.

As market research progressed, the team at TWI learned that clients were usually focused on a single inspection task, and were not likely to purchase an all-in-one system. As a result, they came to a pragmatic decision to make the system modular. They also learned about an aspect of the inspection process that was wide-ly regarded as particularly tedious and time consuming. In the typical inspection for blockages in cooling holes, inspectors manually insert a wire probe through every single hole. If TWI could provide a solution to this la-bor intensive and cost inefficient process, the team knew they could attract industry attention. And that is exactly what happened. After proving that their Thermal Air Flow Inspection System (TAFIS) could eliminate this manual inspection and reduce inspection time to less than 15 seconds, TWI suddenly found its entry into the market and gained widespread attention from industry leaders. From there, Pratt & Whitney and Rolls-Royce helped TWI understand the specialized requirements of the aircraft turbine blade manufacturing environment, and TWI was able to demonstrate they could easily ex-ceed existing inspection requirements.

While developing the TAFIS system, TWI recognized another opportunity - the detection of residual ceramic core, where the conventional inspection solution, neutron radiography, was creating a logjam in the blade manufac-turing process. TWI realized the patented technology that TAFIS was built on could perform this inspection using thermography. Whereas neutron radiography reveals the presence of the core residue, the TWI approach shows the change in performance of the blade due to the pres-ence of core, which the company feels is far more valu-able, since the process works in a thermodynamic space as opposed to just the structural space.

Throughout the Phase II development process, TWI worked with the Navy Transition Assistance Program (TAP) to assist them in their market research and market-ing initiatives.

"Primes and other large companies are able to separate the technical focus of their work from the marketing, and the marketing begins in the early development stages. Small technology companies can't always do that; they just don't have the resources," explains Dr. Steven Shepard, President and Founder of Thermal Wave Imaging, Inc. "Consequently, the same people who are developing the technology have to think about how to market it, but they often don't, until the projects are far along technically. The TAP program forces the small company to start thinking about marketing much earlier in the process. It teaches the small company to think and act more like a big company."

The modular T3S system that emerged from the STTR uses TWI's advanced thermography to detect hole and channel blockages, measure Thermal Barrier Coating (TBC) and wall thickness, detect TBC delamina-tion and detect cracks for land and aerospace-based tur-bine components. T3S can replace many time-intensive inspections currently performed on multiple test sys-tems. Its modular architecture can be configured to meet specific turbine inspection requirements. It uses a single test station for multiple applications, and its non-contact inspection design increases speed, accuracy and reli-ability. The net benefit is increased inspection sensitivity, increased throughput, and significant cost reduction and return on investment.

"The Navy community speaks a very specific language that includes, but is broader than the language that sci-entists speak," says Shepard. "As a result, we sometimes don't effectively communicate what we have to offer in the language of the customer. As scientists who spend a lot of time describing what we do, that's not a criticism we like to hear, but the TAP addresses that and teaches us to speak and understand that language effectively."

Both TAFIS and the T3S are currently being used in military and commercial aircraft platforms. TWI has acquired over $3 million in Phase III revenue as a result of these innovations, including $2.8 million in sales to prime contractors and another $1.6 million in equity and direct development funding.

  • Advanced Rotorcraft
    Technology, Inc.
  • Basic Commerce and
    Industries, Inc.
  • Coherent Logix
  • EM Photonics
  • Phase Matrix, Inc.

Advanced Rotorcraft Technology, Inc.

Phase III Success: $3.8M in product sales to the Navy, Army, prime contractors, and universities

Advanced Rotorcraft Technology

ADVANCED ROTORCRAFT TECHNOLOGY, INC. (ART) is one of the more experienced companies that participates in the Navy Transition Assistance Program (TAP) having received in excess of twelve Phase II SBIR contracts. Despite this level of experience, ART still finds the TAP valuable. According to Ron Du Val, President of ART "Despite the number of times we have participated in the Navy TAP, we always identify new Navy contacts that have an interest in our rotorcraft technology. We ended up with some very useful contacts that we never would have made without the TAP program." These contacts resulted in sales of over $3.8 million (from the most recent Navy Opportunity Forum® event) of the ART Flight Dynamics Model (software) across the Navy, Army, prime contractors, as well as several universities.

The U.S. Army Aeronautical Design Standard for rotorcraft handling qualities (ADS-33E-PRF) is accepted as the formal specification and as design guidance for rotorcraft handling qualities by all the major helicopter manufacturers. The Army upgraded this specification (as a replacement for the handling qualities military specification MIL-H-8501A) to address rotorcraft flying qualities specification requirements. However, it was upgraded primarily for land-based rotorcraft operations without taking into account the naval rotorcraft flying qualities requirements such as the ability to incorporate the new and enhanced requirements in support of shipboard and heavy lift rotorcraft handling qualities.

Additionally, UAV evaluation and control design still needed to be addressed in this upgrade; as did the specifications for cargo and heavy lift rotorcraft under Navy shipboard interactions. NAVAIR initiated an SBIR in 2005 (NAVAIR N05-091) to provide the needed shipboard enhancements to the handling tool kit. The objective of updating the Army's ADS-33E-PRF specification was to accommodate the needs of shipboard rotorcraft handling and heavy lift helicopter specifications. It focused on the unique requirements for maritime rotorcraft, Vertical Take-off and Landing (VTOL), Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), and cargo and heavy lift helicopters. A series of tests were conducted on NASA's Vertical Motion Simulator at the Ames Research Center using flight dynamics models developed under ART's FLIGHTLAB Development System to evaluate the new handling qualities specifications for these operational requirements.

The Navy-based upgrades to the ADS-33E-PRF specification added requirements to define handling qualities requirements for shipboard operations for manned and unmanned aircraft. No such document existed prior to this innovative ART approach. In the development of this specification upgrade, ART worked with Hoh Aeronautics (which assisted in the original ADS-33 development.) Hoh Aeronautics focused on defining the handling qualities requirements for maritime rotorcraft, heavy lift, VTOL, and UAV while ART focused on the simulation development and criteria evaluation to be performed in FLIGHTLAB. This effort incorporated new and enhanced requirements into FLIGHTLAB's ADS-33 Toolbox in support of shipboard and heavy lift rotorcraft handling qualities analysis and UAV evaluation and control design. The new handling qualities evaluation and simulation tool developed from this SBIR has proven to be of value to rotorcraft manufacturers, research institutes, universities, government agencies, as well as, of course, the military.

The importance of the Aircraft Design Standard (ADS-33E-PRF) is seen in the fact that ART ended up (after the 2009 Forum) selling its simulator software to several organizations such as Liverpool University, Penn State University, the U.S. Army, as well as sales to Lockheed Martin. ART also sold its software to L-3 and the Korean government for the Lynx Helicopter Simulator.

Advanced Rotorcraft Technology, Inc. (ART) is a 20 person organization founded by Dr. Ron Du Val in 1982 and located in Sunnyvale, CA. It is primarily focused on software development providing the industry with high fidelity simulation models of rotorcraft dynamics. Through its flight dynamics modeling and analysis tool (FLIGHTLAB), it supports government, industry and academia in performing engineering analysis of rotorcraft. ART has integrated its dynamics models into a wide array of third party real-time simulators for engineering and training applications. It has combined its simulation software with the most cost-effective commercial off-the-shelf simulator hardware available.

This combination has allowed ART to provide affordable, high fidelity turnkey rotorcraft simulators to military and commercial customers. ART's rotorcraft expertise, coupled with its simulation software and system integration experience has positioned it as a leader in the highly specialized area of rotorcraft simulators.

Dr. Ron Du Val emphasized "The majority of our engineers have doctorates in Aerospace engineering and can provide consulting and engineering services for many different disciplines including Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD), Computational Structural Dynamics (CSD), Stability and Control Modeling and Analysis, and Engine/Drivetrain Modeling and Analysis."

Basic Commerce and Industries, Inc.

Phase III Success: $6,257,000


BASIC COMMERCE AND INDUSTRIES, INC. (better known as BCI) has established a strong reputation over the past 30 years in the areas of radar and communications systems design and real-time signal processing system development. This radar work has extended into the field of weather radar with particular emphasis on the development of weather radar processing systems. Through this SBIR, BCI has developed a weather radar processing system that can be used to add advanced weather tracking capability to existing tactical radar systems. This modular software architecture (MSA) provides a low-cost adjunct weather processing capability to tactical radar by extracting weather data from raw radar returns in a "non-interfering manner" with the radar's tactical mission.

Imagine the improved weather forecasting and tracking capability that is delivered by these software-defined algorithms when applied to a variety of Navy radar. Radar systems equipped with this software application can function as an extension of the larger weather environment providing local area information. This modular software architecture (MSA) is essentially a set of radar processing algorithms that are designed to interface with a common raw radar data structure. This software architecture can provide weather-related information in parallel to the radar's tactical mission without any negative impact on radar resources. In this manner, the BCI technology enhances the operational effectiveness of air, ground and sea assets to understand the current weather conditions for asset allocation and mission planning. Virtually every tactical radar system used by the US Armed Forces employs unique interface schemes, hardware configurations, and operational characteristics. The MSA front end translates these custom radar interfaces into a common radar data format which then feeds the common back end processing algorithms. Thus, significantly different radars such as the SPS-48E, SPY-1D, and MPQ-64 can be augmented with a common adjunct MSA processor with greater commonality.

BCI initially launched the first MSA system on the USS Peleliu in the Persian Gulf (2005) and subsequently on the USS Washington for sea trials in 2007. Based on the success with these sea trials, BCI was awarded a Phase II.5 ($2.55 million) to complete the development of this technology as well as a SPAWAR IDIQ (that now exceeds $2.9 million). Through this IDIQ, BCI has now outfitted 14 other ships from landing crafts to large carriers with its MSA system. Additionally, given the convenience of this IDIQ contract, the Air Force has provided funding to modify the MSA system to their radar systems for weather forecasting. The Air Force Weather Agency (part of the Air Combat Command) has adapted the BCI technology for use in Afghanistan in early 2012.

Most importantly, this Navy-funded SBIR effort has allowed BCI to extend this technology into the commercial sector through a strategic relationship with EWR Weather Radar Systems headquartered in St. Louis, Missouri. EWR Weather Radar has been the industry leader in portable weather radar design since 1982 and its systems are in the hands of a broad spectrum of end users. Their customers range from domestic and foreign governments as well as U.S. and international corporations, service providers such as broadcasters and community emergency readiness agencies to local and national weather services and small to mid-sized airports. As stated by Tim Maese, Director of BCI Sensor division: "This is the true strength of the SBIR program, funding the initial 'high risk' development of the underlying technology that, once proven, can be offered to the commercial market. Our strategic relationship with EWR Weather Radar Systems will allow BCI to extend its technology through the extensive network of satisfied EWR users."

Founded in 1982, BCI has grown into a technology company performing independent research and development in the areas of radar and communications systems design and real-time signal processing system development. In addition to the modular software architecture for Advanced Weather Radars program, other current programs include the development of a transmitter noise compensation system for high-power tactical radar systems and development of radar tracker processors. Their growth has been noted in Inc. magazine, Forbes Magazine and by New Jersey Business News as being one of America's fastest growing private companies. BCI currently has 150 employees and generates approximately $25 million a year, 90% of which is government contracts.

With regard to the effectiveness of the Navy Transition Assistance Program (TAP), Maese stated "We were somewhat different than most companies in the TAP program since we already had a Phase III contract for implementation of our technology; however, we found that the TAP program value was in the discipline of consciously thinking through the various elements of the Narrative Briefing, Quad Charts and Navy Forum presentation. We specifically benefited from the marketing-oriented 'elevator speech' that could be communicated quickly to very busy executives wanting to understand the essence of our technical capability."

Coherent Logix

Phase III Success: $6,000,000 from product sales and private investment


AFTER THE 2009 NAVY OPPORTUNITY FORUM®, Coherent Logix successfully secured $2.5 million in Phase II.5 funding for continued development of the HyperX™ processor based Radio and Waveform Development System. In addition, Coherent Logix has sold in excess of $4.0 million in HyperX technology products to both military and commercial customers. Commercial applications include software-defined radio, video and image processing, data compression, encryption, and industrial and medical imaging.

What exactly is the HyperX processor and what are its inherent advantages? The HyperX processor is a massively parallel processor chip. This processor's unique capability is realized by interconnecting energy efficient processing cores with an instant-on and bandwidth-on-demand network fabric, while at the same time offering a seamless hardware programming model across cores and chip boundaries. The chip is supported by a full suite of development tools and targeted market reference hardware development systems that enable real-time prototyping.

The HyperX processor was developed in coordination with both military and commercial customers to meet the rigorous requirements of high performance embedded systems, including software-defined radios (SDRs) and image and video processing systems. Historically, state-of-the-art reconfigurable, programmable processors used in software-defined radios had severe limitations in power, performance and reliability. Typically one or more of these characteristics had to be sacrificed in order to achieve the other required capabilities.

The Coherent Logix high performance, low power HyperX processor provides the power and high energy efficiency needed to make SDR practical. The HyperX design replaces at a minimum the digital signal processor (DSP) and field programmable gate array (FPGA) devices in the SDR. In doing so, the HyperX technology can provide more than an order of magnitude improvement in power savings and improvement in performance, while reducing development time and resources (when compared to conventional multi-chip processing solutions.)

By establishing this capability, Coherent Logix has achieved the Joint Tactical Radio System (JTRS) goal of providing the implementation of standard communications waveforms using "software" defined hardware thereby assuring that a common radio platform can be configured (and reconfigured) by way of software modifications to operate with other radios through one or more of the JTRS standard modulation schemes. Implementation of JTRS radios requires a new class of processors that have sufficient computational bandwidth to implement JTRS waveforms, while consuming significantly less power than traditional programmable solutions. Additionally, the HyperX processor is suitable for developing a wide range of signal processing applications including wireless communications, image processing, electronic warfare, synthetic aperture radar, and sensor fusion.

Michael Doerr, the Chief Technology Officer for Coherent Logix stated: "While the Navy works very closely with the funding organizations and primes during the SBIR period, the Army complements this approach by participating in the joint DoD programs. Not only was Coherent Logix successful in securing a Phase II.5 from the Navy, but given the 'joint services' nature of the JTRS program, Coherent Logix was also awarded a contract from the Army for further development of its HyperX technology."

Doerr emphasized, however: "While the Navy Opportunity Forum® was a great event, it made Coherent Logix fully aware of the long development cycle needed to get military technologies approved. SBIR firms should recognize that the military cycle is more on the order of five to ten years to get a technology all the way through field or sea trials. Regarding the Transition Assistance Program (TAP) provided by the Navy, we found the TIP [market research] information and associated Points of Contact the most helpful; beyond the Forum itself."

Subsequent to the Coherent Logix success with this SBIR, the company has successfully engaged with commercial base station and handset software defined system customers. While this was not a direct result of their Phase II success, it is a clear indication of the power of being successful with these DoD initiatives and developing both the commercial and military opportunities from these SBIRs.

Coherent Logix designs, manufactures and markets programmable digital signal processing solutions to various commercial, government and military markets. Over the past several years, the company has successfully transitioned technology developed under DARPA and DoD contracts to commercial products. Coherent Logix operates R&D, marketing, sales, and support organizations in Austin, TX; San Jose, CA; Portland, OR; and Tokyo, Japan. Looking further ahead, Coherent Logix expects the HyperX processor to provide more general purpose solutions across larger markets.

EM Photonics

Phase III Success: $1,500,000 in government contracts


THE MILITARY HAS A NEED to improve imaging capabilities in degraded visual environments (DVEs), as missions maybe altered or cancelled due to poor visibility. Brownouts have been a particular problem in both Iraq and Afghanistan, where forces are dependent on helicopter support.

Recent research efforts focused on harnessing the unique ability of millimeter waves (MMWs) to penetrate obscurants, including fog, dust, smoke, and blowing sand, to combat brownout and other DVE events. One such effort, pioneered by Phase Sensitive Innovations (PSI), is the development of a novel sensing platform consisting of a distributed array of passive MMW antenna elements. Using a combination of optical and signal processing techniques, this system is able to produce imagery unhindered by obscurants to aid pilots in naviregisgating DVE situations.

EM Photonics has partnered with PSI to add caparegisbilities to their MMW technology. This work focused on the design and integration of an advanced electronic control system, suitable for airframe deployment, to synregischronize the MMW imaging system and to acquire and process data collected.

The target platform for this improved MMW imagregising system was the CH-53 helicopter operated by the Marine Corps. The CH-53 family of heavy lift helicopregisters combines power and versatility like nothing else in the sky. Flying a range of missions that include heavy lift operations, CH-53 helicopters carry cargo, vehicles, artillery and troops and are designed to operate in naval environments. Given the importance of this naval role, the CH-53 was chosen as the target platform for this MMW technology.

Once the feasibility of this technology was demregisonstrated, the operational challenge was to reduce the overall "footprint" of the system as well as "positioning" the computer on the helicopter given the limited space available. These are the same issues confronted by most airborne retrofits; how to accommodate the restricted size, weight and power requirements of the aircraft. EM Photonics was successful in developing the smaller footregisprint and was subsequently awarded a follow-on Phase II.5 contract for $1.5 million (and a contract from the Office of Naval Research for the same amount of $1.5 milregislion as matching funds to further component reductions and complementary processing algorithms) for continued development of this MMW technology.

PSI was funded under an ONR Future Naval Capabilities project for developing a passive MMW imaging system that would ultimately be transitioned to NAVAIR PMA-261 for initial deployment on CH-53 helicopters. The combined efforts of these two firms provided complementary electronics and image proregiscessing algorithms. The electronics developed at EM Photonics enhanced the performance of this PSI MMW imaging system, as well as other MMW imagers.

The ultimate goal of this Commercialization Pilot Program (Phase II.5) was to design, build, and interegisgrate flight-ready custom electronics for a 220-chanregisnel MMW distributed-aperture imager. Expanding the EM Photonics design from a single-channel prototype (breadboard) environment to a 220-channel system ready for flight testing was a significant challenge. The prototype functionality had to be appropriately scaled while achieving the strict size, weight, power and operaregistional considerations of the CH-53 helicopter.

EM Photonics also addressed the need for exregistended field processing to achieve "real time imagregisery" since the raw MMW images were initially fuzzy and had distorted characteristics. Significant real time processing was necessary in order to improve the resregisolution of the captured image and to compensate for motion during imaging. To address these limitations, EM Photonics developed a novel hardware-based acregiscelerated processor specific for MMW imaging.

With regard to the Navy Opportunity Forum® (and subsequent Phase II.5 program) Eric Kelmelis, the CEO for EM Photonics commented: "We found working with Transition Assistance Program (TAP) to be overall a valuregisable experience, particularly the Navy Opportunity Forum®. We were able to make several contacts there that resulted in partnerships and helped secure our Phase II.5 funding."

This final EM Photonics design is scheduled for flight testing in June and October of 2012. Given success in this flight test scenario, this technology will benefit many sectors including military, security, and surveillance. Specific appliregiscations include situational awareness in DVEs, long-range imaging, automatic target recognition, weapons detection, situational awareness in hostile conditions, monitoring of harbors and coastal areas, and all-weather imaging.

Founded in 2001, EM Photonics is a recognized leader in accelerating computationally intense algorithms with commodity hardware platforms. Using off-the-shelf graphics processing units (GPUs) and custom-designed FPGA-based embedded hardware, they have applied their technologies to many applications requiring high computational performance in data center, desktop, and embedded system form factors. EM Photonics currently markets a number of accelerated simulation tools such as ATCOM, which is a family of accelerated image processregising tools used to compensate for atmospheric distortion. In addition to direct sales, they offer consulting services to government and prime contractors for algorithm acregisceleration and embedded system design.

Phase Matrix, Inc.
A National Instruments Company

Phase III Success: $2,000,000 in product sales


PHASE MATRIX WAS FORMED IN 1999 as a privately held California corporation. Since that time the company has been involved in the development and manufacturing of high quality, cost effective, RF and microwave test and measurement instruments as well as sophisticated RF/microwave components. Phase Matrix began its operations in a small facility within the "golden triangle" of Silicon Valley and gradually became a leading supplier of RF and microwave instrumentation to many DoD Test and Measurement programs (e.g., Air Force's [BAE] Improved Avionics Intermediate Shop (IAIS), Marine Corps' TETS & VIPER/T programs, Air Force's [Northrop Grumman] F-15 Downsized Tester) as well as major test equipment Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs.)

National Instruments (NI) became aware of Phase Matrix's technology back in the 2003-2006 time frame when Phase Matrix was working with BAE Mission Systems, a Phase II "Fast Track" sponsor, on the development of their PXI Downconverter hardware; NI equips engineers and scientists with tools that accelerate productivity, innovation and discovery, and is the world's leading supplier of PXI hardware and software. Consequently, a strategic alliance was formed between BAE Mission Systems, Phase Matrix, and National instruments promoting the concept of Radio Frequency/ Microwave (RF/MW) applications, such as Synthetic Instrumentation, employing the PXI platform. Through this relationship, National Instruments became interested in the Phase Matrix technology development of the PXI technology to expand their RF and microwave reach. Since this approach provided downconverters in the 100 KHz to 26.5 GHz range, it could potentially open the military K-Band market (at that time there were no commercially available downconverters covering this range with the PXI format). Subsequently, Phase Matrix was acquired as a wholly-owned subsidiary of National Instruments in May of 2011 due primarily to a culmination of the above events, as well as the deep professional and personal relationships garnered between both companies over the eight year time frame.

Phase Matrix launched their family of PXI RF/ MW Downconverter modules to the marketplace in September of 2009 at Autotestcon 2009, the premier DoD Automatic Test system conference. Since then, Phase Matrix has sold PXI modules to commercial, DoD, and international clients. National Instruments has since taken over the sales and distribution channel for this product line and is providing global sales and support while Phase Matrix focuses on RF/MW development on the PXI platform.

The key element required for movement to the PXI standard (initiated in the late 1990s time frame) was the need for a reduced "form factor" for the military and commercial test and measurement marketplaces. The PXI technology is designed for measurement and automation applications that require high performance and a rugged industrial form factor. At that time, RF/MW Down converters were available in a variety of large formats such as chassis mount assembly, rack mount assembly, or larger modular formats such as the VMEbus Extensions for Instrumentation (VXI). Hence the military's interest in developing a smaller "form factor" offered by the PXI technology represented a modular instrumentation platform targeted specifically for test and measurement and automation applications in support of smaller foot print "rack/stack" systems, transportable test systems, portable test systems, and (ultimately) embedded test systems. With PXI, the user could select the modules needed for a particular application and integrate them into a single PXI system from multiple vendors. Employing modular PXI test and measurement components in support of military automatic test systems mitigates test system obsolescence and provides a tractable upgrade path for test systems; these systems must continually keep up with ever-changing and expanding military test system requirements over their typical 20-30+ years of operational support life.

In the spring of 2009, Phase Matrix received a Phase II.5 award for continuing development, design and manufacturing of their PXI RF/MW technology. The primary objective of this "continuing development (CD)" contract was to validate a family of PXI Upconverter/ Synthesizer modules that, when integrated with supporting commercial off the shelf (COTS) components, would provide a 100 KHz-26.5 GHz stimulus generation and analog/digital modulation capability that complemented their Phase II Downconverter development. The resulting small form factor PXI stimulus source serves as a technology enabler for lighter and smaller portable and transportable "Synthetic Instrumentation" based test systems. This technology development also provides a replacement technology path in support of obsolete legacy instrumentation in both DoD and the commercial markets. A successful system demonstration of this Phase II.5 module set was conducted in the early October 2011 time frame in San Jose, CA for Navy, Army, Marine Corps, and Air Force representatives. Based on demonstration results and customer feedback, commercialization of the module set has been initiated.

Michael Granieri, Vice President of Advanced Programs and Business Development for Phase Matrix, offers this advice for SBIR neophytes: "I think it's extremely important to fully map out how your particular SBIR technology idea maps to the customer's problem set over the long term, who your potential partners or customers would/should be going forward, how your technology can employ or work within the context of industry standards, and how one can leverage your SBIR technology into the commercial space (dual use). These are challenging system/business level tasks - probably equally or more challenging than the very technology that you are developing! These issues should be addressed and validated prior to and during your Phase I development to insure some probability of success going forward."

As a wholly owned subsidiary of National Instruments, Phase Matrix will continue to support its existing customer base as well as providing National Instruments with a K-Band capability through this PXI technology. The senior management team consists of experienced individuals who have successfully designed, managed, and delivered world-class, high-quality, dual-use products in support of both commercial and military applications. National Instruments (, headquartered in Austin, TX has more than 6,600 employees and direct operations in more than 40 countries. For the past 13 years, Fortune magazine has named NI one of the 100 best companies to work for in America. The Best Places to Work Institute named NI one of the 25 "World's Best Multinational Workplaces" for the second consecutive year.

  • Binghamton Simulator Company
  • Creare, Incorporated
  • Griffin Analytical Technologies
  • NAVSYS Corporation
  • Softronics Limited
  • SRICO, Inc.
  • Techno-Sciences, Inc.
  • Trident Systems, Inc.
  • Weidlinger Associates, Inc.

Binghamton Simulator Company

Agency: Navy
2006 - 2007 Navy TAP Participant
More than $6M in government contracts and sales


Train like you will fight" is the motto that drives the Binghamton Simulator Company (BSC) in its quest for realism in its simulator products. From its helmet-mounted visualization systems, high-fidelity visual images provide accurate depth perception and extreme fidelity. The company has captured a realistic aircrew experience in a virtual training environment. The Navy's Aircrew Virtual Environment Trainer (AVET) provides helmet mounted displays that fit directly onto the air-crew's personal helmets via the Night Vision Goggle rails, thereby allowing aircrews to train with their own equipment rather than using special helmets. An all electric six-degree-of-freedom motion system allows aircrews to experience the realism of flight at a 90 degree orientation to their flight path. Real weapons, modified for training, provide the critical skills training that are needed to acquire and engage targets in realistic scenarios. This combination provides a rapidly changing, realistic environment that is as close to the real thing as possible.

How did BSC develop this rotary-wing simulator capability that allowed it to secure NAVAIR Phase III funding in excess of $6M? According to the BSC president, Terry Lewis, "BSC essentially started in the early 1990s as an outgrowth of the Link Flight Simulation Division of Singer Company. BSC started out as a simulation engineering and support company for training systems, worldwide. BSC pioneered the development of virtual aircrew training in the mid-90s. Working closely with the U.S. Air Force Special Operations Forces, BSC designed and built a simulation system to help train Aerial Gunners and Scanners. This training requirement had been identified as a critical need following the first mid-East war. Only one was fielded due to budget cuts and changing missions, but in early 2003, BSC, seeing a continuing need for this type of training, began research and development of an updated version of that original Special Operations Trainer."

The Navy H-60 Program had identified a need for improved aircrew communications and resource management. An SBIR Topic was developed in 2003 to assist in the research. BSC was awarded a Phase I and Phase II award for this Navy Topic. In concert with the SBIR effort, BSC invested more than a million dollars of its own money in a Demo Unit that would be shown at several industry events.

The simulations were initially oriented toward improved communications for the helicopter crews, but the number of issues to be addressed increased as the Navy began to see the benefits of this cost-effective training approach. The training requirement was extended to weapons training, as well as "hoist" training in its current configuration. Following delivery of the Prototype AVET (PAVET), the Navy conducted a test for 12 months at Norfolk, VA where they did an extensive evaluation, determining that the virtual environment not only saved approximately $10M versus live training, but additionally reduced the enlisted training mission failures (Downs) by 50 percent. Based on this success, BSC received a five year IDIQ for $25M with an initial order for $260,000 to write the AVET specification. The second order was for the production of the first AVET device, which is now at North Island NAS, San Diego, CA.

The $10M in cost savings is just the tip of the iceberg, which makes the technology even more enticing. Virtual training also extends the life of the aircraft, reduces ammunition cost, travel costs to and from the ranges and eliminates the EPA restrictions on aircraft during live training scenarios. The AVET system can simulate high-speed events and provide training for the critical skills and versatility needed in these extreme scenarios.

What gives BSC an edge is that they are providing the entire simulation system and the company is not working through a prime contractor, therefore it can control its "turnkey solution" by working directly with the organization needing its simulation system. For example, based on the power of the BSC Demo Unit, which the Swedish Defense Forces (SDF) saw at one of the industry shows, BSC was able to "rent" time on this Demo system to the SDF.

Through the successful work on this SBIR initiative, BSC has now teamed with a prime contractor on an Army requirement which has led to a contract for two mobile trailers, each containing two training units, with an expectation of more systems being required over the next several years.

Early recognition that the "requirement" for simulator training needs to be part of the Navy aerial gunner training procedures and manuals is one of the key elements in the BSC success in this venture. According to Lewis, "Now, the U.S. Navy has taken the lead in developing the Aircrew Virtual Environment Trainer and the simulator is integrated into the Navy training syllabus for helicopter aircrew members. For the first time, these mission-critical aircrew members will have the ability to train 24/7 in an environment that is very close to the real thing."

After attending the 2007 Navy Opportunity Forum®, Lewis acknowledged that it gave him a much broader view of the Navy's requirements. "Both the TAP Program and the Navy Opportunity Forum® gave me a better view of how the Navy operates," said Lewis. "SBIR firms need to understand the 'upstream' activities that influence the final decision making process. In the case of BSC, we learned that there was a distinct need to have the simulation process 'called out' in the training syllabus before the need could be recognized in a formal SBIR solicitation." An important lesson for SBIR firms to internalize.

Creare, Inc.

Agency: Navy
2007 - 2008 Navy TAP Participant
Phase III Success: $1.5M in contracts and licensing agreements


"When you know you have a great technology, stay with it," advised Jay Rozzi, a Principal Engineer at Creare, Inc. Considering the level of success that Creare has already secured-$1.5M in Phase III funding for a high-speed titanium machining process being the latest feather in their cap-it seems like sound advice. Located in Hanover, NH, Creare, Inc. is an engineering research and development firm that has been delivering engineering innovations for their clients for more than 50 years. Creare continues this tradition of innovation and exploration today in a multitude of areas, including advanced manufacturing.

Though high strength and low density make titanium and its alloys attractive for use in military aircraft, its high strength and low thermal conductivity concentrates heating at the cutting edge during machining. This limits the attainable processing speed, which in turn results in increased part costs. The excessive machining costs have limited the applications of titanium to the realm of high tech aircraft. Creare's innovation is the development of an internal cooling approach for cutting tools using small flows of liquid cryogens, which enables increased processing speeds and extends tool life up to 700 percent, markedly reducing the manufacturing cost of critical titanium parts.

Creare began developing this technology in 2004 when the company received its initial Phase I Navy SBIR contract. Most importantly, it was during this early period of development that Creare began working with a key prime contractor, Bell Helicopter - Textron (BHT). At that time, BHT was seeking a methodology for high-speed titanium machining for the V-22. Given its lighter weight and high performance characteristics, titanium was increasingly being used in new-build aircraft. Lockheed Martin was also interested in the Creare cooling technology for its F-35 production challenges. In fact, it was Lockheed Martin that secured funding as part of a larger F-35 initiative to enable the Phase III program.

"As long as they have a viable technology, it is important that SBIR firms go where the technology is needed," stated Rozzi. "We started working with Bell Helicopter (V-22) and Lockheed Martin (F-35) early in our technology development to assure that we understood their needs and their manufacturing issues. Through the support of NAVAIR, and the diligence of our SBIR Technical Monitor, Creare was selected as a NAVAIR CPP candidate in late 2007 for transition to the Program of Record. The key was getting the relevant prime contractors involved as early in the process as possible."

Based on its strong intellectual property position developed through this Navy SBIR project, Creare has signed a licensing agreement with MAG Industrial Automation Systems, the world's largest U.S.-based machine tool company. MAG is the global leader in metal cutting machine tools and automated composites equipment for the aerospace industry, and its machines are responsible for production of the F-35 titanium parts.

While the military applications for titanium production are important, this Creare technology has many commercial applications. Not only does it improve the titanium production process but it can be applied to ceramic matrix composites and stainless steel production as well. In fact, one of the more promising applications is in the medical field based on the elimination of coolants in their machining process.

Creare has been highly successful in the commercialization of SBIR-developed technology. Creare has commercialized SBIR technology internally via sales of custom or specialized hardware and software and engineering services contracts as well as externally through creation of spin-off companies and licensing of technology to third parties. To date, the firm can trace nearly $700M of revenues at Creare, the firm's spin-offs, and technology licensees to commercialization of Creare SBIR projects. In the last 13 years, Creare itself has averaged about 40 percent of total revenues from Phase III commercialization activities related to past SBIR projects. These activities were primarily in the form of contract development, fabrication and testing of specialized hardware and software.

Griffin Analytical Technologies, Inc.

Agency: Navy
2006 - 2007 Navy TAP Participant
Phase III Success: $5.7M in government contracts, equity funds, grants and product sales


It has been quite a trip! Griffin Analytical Technologies (Griffin) began as a small SBIR firm founded in 2001 to commercialize "ion trap" technology that was patented by Purdue University. In late 2005, Griffin completed a merger with DC-based Icx Technologies, Inc. (ICX), which was followed by an initial public offering in 2007. That road led to an acquisition by $1.5B industry leader, FLIR Systems, Inc. (FLIR) in August of 2010. It has been quite a trip, indeed!

While Griffin's history is brief, it has been significant. Griffin has moved from its small business origins to its current corporate role as part of the Detection and Protection Division of FLIR Government Systems. FLIR, as a global company, is focused on the design, manufacture, and marketing of thermal imaging and radar surveillance systems, chemical, biological, radiation and explosive detection products, and turn-key integrated sensor solutions to a list of customers that includes U.S. and foreign government agencies and military programs, as well as commercial organizations. Within the FLIR Detection and Protection Division, Griffin operates as FLIR Mass Spectrometry, offering its full range of GRIFFIN™ mass spectrometry systems and accessories.

Back in 2003, Griffin responded to a Navy SBIR to develop a field portable system for chemical analysis. At that time, there were no "field able chemical analysis" systems available that could provide real-time monitoring of hazardous compounds in complex samples. The GRIFFIN-proposed field-portable miniature mass spectrometer (MMS) was intended to meet this operational need. Development of this system would transform traditional sample-to-lab analysis to lab-to-sample analysis. The Navy thought that successful development of this concept would provide the ability to conduct high-end chemical analysis in the field, thereby offering a competitive advantage to U.S. armed forces.

After meeting the Phase II technical milestones, Griffin was awarded a MARCOR Phase III contract of approximately $1.2M for further development of its field portable units. Griffin also won an Indiana co-grant, which provided an additional $100,000 for product development. Interestingly, Griffin had an internal policy of supplementing SBIR awards (Navy, NSF, EPA, etc.) with equity funding, which reached a level of $2.5M in 2005. On the strength of this combined funding, Griffin completed development of its field portable, dual-use design and was able to sell additional GC/MS systems to commercial organizations, environmental monitoring companies, Homeland Security agencies and universities.

GRIFFIN™ mass spectrometers incorporate "cylindrical ion trap (CIT)" technology, which was originally developed at Purdue University and ultimately commercialized by Griffin. This significant advancement in mass spectrometer capability allows for the technology to be "utilized in the field" when it was previously only available in laboratories. Incorporating CITs into field units has reduced the power and vacuum requirements normally associated with laboratory systems while still achieving the analytical performance equivalent to traditional laboratory ion traps. The inherent design has dramatically reduced size of the overall units and provided the ultimate in spectral information through its ability to perform multi-dimensional analysis (MS/MS). MS/MS provides both a first-stage mass analysis to determine if a particular analyze of interest is in a sample and within milliseconds, a second-stage confirmation of the analyses' identity. Analysis this precise has never before been available in a field-portable GC/MS.

In the fall of 2005, Griffin merged as a wholly-owned subsidiary of ICX, a much larger company with more than 600 employees and $100M in investments in surveillance and detection technologies. Griffin continued development and production of its GRIFFIN GC/MS product line as part of the ICX Detection Division.

Field-portable mass spectrometry offered Icx an enhanced detection capability versus the standard laboratory technology for detecting, differentiating and identifying trace levels of chemical compounds in complex chemical environments. Mass spectrometers are uniquely sensitive and accurate. They extract chemical signatures from test samples much more quickly and accurately than is possible with alternative technologies. However, most conventionally designed units were too cumbersome to be deployed outside of the laboratory. As co-founder and president of Griffin, Dennis Barket, Jr., who is now the general manager of FLIR Mass Spectrometry, said, "Where chemical analysis was formerly a lengthy process that required bringing samples to the lab, GRIFFIN mass spectrometer systems have shifted the logistics paradigm from "sample-to-lab analysis" to "lab-to-sample analysis."

The GRIFFIN line of GC/MS products all utilize an isolation system initially developed under the NAVY SBIR. The isolation system allows the analytical components to resist shock and vibration. This protective system is integrated inside the casing allowing for quick transition in and out of deployable forensic labs, mobile environmental/incident response labs, and CBRNE reconnaissance vehicles. GRIFFIN GC/MS systems are also equipped with Griffin System Software (GSS). GSS contains a simplified graphical user interface, which allows both advanced users and beginners to interact with the GC/MS. The software is mission-specific capable, equipped with method selector tools and libraries.

The FLIR Mass Spectrometry flagship product is the Griffin 460 GC/MS, which can be used for on-site chemical identification. The Griffin 460 contains both an integrated liquid injector and air sampling port. The self-contained system can accept direct liquid injections via syringe or solid phase micro extraction (SPME) fibers. Should users wish to expand the capabilities of the system, the split/splitless liquid injection port easily accommodates a headspace sampler or autosampler. The air sampling module performs direct air analysis via a sampling line or by thermally desorbing samples from the Griffin™ X-Sorber. Water analysis may also be performed via the Griffin™ Purge & Trap accessory. No other GC/MS in the market has this range of flexibility and ease of use in the field, including both prep and prep-less sample introduction technologies.

In the fall of 2010, FLIR successfully completed a $268M acquisition of ICX. FLIR Systems, Inc. is a world leader in the design, manufacture and marketing of thermal imaging and stabilized camera systems for a wide variety of thermography and imaging applications. These include condition monitoring, research and development, manufacturing process control, airborne observation and broadcast, search and rescue, drug interdiction, surveillance and reconnaissance, navigation safety, border and maritime patrol, environmental monitoring and ground-based security. Now FLIR also has a full range of CBRNE detection equipment, making it a leader in the Detection and Protection market.

To go from a small 20 person organization with under $5M in revenue to a valued subsidiary of a billion dollar company in nine short years is a remarkable achievement for Griffin. "It was chiefly through the SBIR program, that we were able to get a foothold in the mass spectrometer market," said Barket. "Licensing the "cylindrical ion trap" technology from Purdue University was a crucial step, but the SBIR funding, including the assistance provided by the Navy TAP, was the fuel needed to push us forward into successful implementation of this portable technology and subsequently, into these excellent company mergers."

NAVSYS Corporation

Agency: Navy
2006 - 2007 Navy TAP Participant
Phase III Success: Nearly $4.2M in funding from the ONR and the U.S. Air Force and private sector


NAVSYS has been providing high quality technical products and services in GPS hardware design, systems engineering, systems analysis and software design to both government and commercial customers since its inception in 1986. Founded and still led by Dr. Alison Brown, NAVSYS is dedicated to promoting the use of GPS in a wide variety of commercial and military applications. NAVSYS pioneered GPS Network Assistance in the civilian community with key roles in enabling the FAA's Wide Area Augmentation System (WAAS) and the Wireless E911 system, among others. Today NAVSYS is committed to bringing those critical advantages to the military. The company provides specialized GPS products and services for customers through its unique technical expertise, innovative engineering approaches and high standards of excellence. NAVSYS offers services in three primary areas: Global Positioning Systems, Inertial Navigation Systems and Communication Systems.

In 2003, the Navy requested proposals for SBIR Topic N03-182, Integrated Communication Link and Global Positioning System (GPS) for Enhanced, Robust Position Information. The objective of this Topic was to, "Design and prototype a system that will use existing or planned naval communication systems to enhance standard GPS operation by connecting users in line-of-sight environments where GPS signals are partially blocked or jammed." NAVSYS responded with a highly innovative proposal to develop a GPS Network Assisted Positioning system (GPS-NAP).

GPS signals can deteriorate for a wide variety of reasons making the position and time information unreliable for mission-critical operations. In the event of GPS jamming, signals can be totally denied thereby prohibiting guidance and targeting of weapons systems. Network assistance can mitigate many of the causes of GPS signal degradation, but requires that there be a network connection to the GPS device. As next-generation military communications systems become available, network-assisted GPS links need to be developed to augment GPS-derived position, navigation and timing. This network assistance is needed to enhance both the reliability and precision of the position and navigation information.

For example, the Small Diameter Bomb (SDB) requires precision and reliability beyond that provided by conventional over-the-air GPS signals. Alison Brown, President and CEO of NAVSYS: "While GPS generally provides location accuracies of less than 1 meter, it can be off by as much as 10 meters at unpredictable times. You can imagine, being off by 10 meters with a small tactical bomb can render it useless, or worse, cause catastrophic collateral damage. Network assistance eliminates those excursions, making it much more reliable for mission-critical operations."

After a particularly successful showing in the 2007 Navy Opportunity Forum®, NAVSYS was awarded an ONR Broad Area Announcement (BAA) contract valued at $3.5M for Mine Countermeasures Precision GPS Ephemeris (MCM PGE), based largely on its successful GPS NAP SBIR Phase II demonstration. One of the objectives of this Precise Navigation and Marking Program was to improve the positioning and maneuvering accuracy of Mine Countermeasure (MCM) platforms; specifically those operating in the littorals in support of amphibious operations. This ONR program demonstrated the capability of Mine Countermeasure assets to both mark the location of underwater mines and navigate around them by using network assistance technology. MCM PGE makes it possible to clear narrower lanes through mine fields so that amphibious assault vehicles can get Marine Expeditionary Forces to shore and out of the risk zone faster.

Another capability directly related to GPS NAP is the Air Force NAMATH Program, developed by NAVSYS under a $3M contract initially with the Air Force TENCAP program and later transferred to the Air Combat Command. The system answered an Urgent Universal Need Statement (UUNS) by delivering precision GPS ephemeris information over tactical data links to improve accuracy for GPS-guided munitions. One of the chief advantages of this approach is that it can provide differential GPS (DGPS) accuracy worldwide without the need for in-area DGPS reference stations. NAMATH replaced a planned DGPS system that was going to cost $35M plus $5M per year to maintain, saving the DoD about $54M to date. The NAMATH system is currently operational in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Why is all this accuracy needed? Primarily for two improve the accuracy of the military's tactical weapons such as the Small Diameter Bomb (SDB) and to reduce collateral damage through greater targeting precision. According to Rick Edwards, NAMATH Program Manager for NAVSYS: "This is especially important in the urban battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan where implementation of the NAMATH system improves the effectiveness of tactical munitions while minimizing collateral damage."

In one of the company's many other current projects, NAVSYS is applying their Network Assistance concept to Software Defined Radios (SDR). NAVSYS is developing an embedded GPS application called GPS-Lite that can run on a radio in place of a hardware GPS solution to reduce size, weight, power and cost.

In all of these GPS endeavors, NAVSYS Corp-oration has become a premier provider of innovative navigation solutions. Their efforts were recognized in 2007 when they received a Tibbetts Award for development of the NAMATH Program.

Softronics Limited

Agency: Navy
2007 - 2008 Navy TAP Participant
Phase III Success: More than $2M in product sales


As Navy SBIR firms seek to transition their technology to the Fleet, they often run into the issue of pursuing Phase III money relentlessly while perhaps forsaking their company's need for continued technology development. Many firms struggle to balance these Phase III marketing demands against the needs of their on-going technology. One commercialization option is to confront this issue directly and embark on a "spin-off" strategy. Setting up a separate company that can focus exclusively on transitioning the Phase II technology to the Fleet can free the SBIR company to pursue its primary R&D mission. This is especially true when the SBIR firm is awarded a manufacturing contract to set up a production line that involves meeting MILSPEC requirements and ISO-9000 certification demands.

This was, in fact, the strategy pursued by Softronics, Ltd. once it finalized the design of its signal intelligence (SIGINT) product line. The two engineers, who designed and developed the RF tuners and digitizers while at Softronics, Ltd., set up Midwest Microwave Solutions and had the SBIR data rights transferred directly to them. With the assistance of the Softronics team, they undertook the production of these innovative, high performance receiver and RF digitizer products for SIGINT, COMINT, SDR, and ELINT applications. By 2008, the company had sold over $2M worth of their MSDR-3000 Receiver family to various military customers.

In 2004, Softronics had received an SBIR award for $599,825 from the Space and Naval Warfare Command (SPAWAR/San Diego) to design, build and flight test a miniature signal intelligence payload for miniature Unmanned Aeronautical Vehicles (UAVs). This technology represented a suite of equipment primarily aimed at minimizing the size of the SIGINT equipment needed for smaller payloads. At that time, current payloads were simply too large, heavy and power hungry to fulfill the needs of UAV, UGS, USV and UUV applications. Prior to this Softronics innovation, previous designs required large radios weighing upwards of 125 pounds to transmit large data loads down to surface terminals via the Common Data Link (CDL). Softronics studied the CDL requirements and provided a miniature CDL-compliant datalink transmitter.

Robert Sternowski, president of Softronics, said, "Once this design was complete, we recognized that the development and implementation of this technology would require a dedicated program team. In order for Softronics to focus on our primary mission as an intelligence provider, we would need to set up a separate company for the design and production of these Miniature Surveillance Digital Receiver (MSDR) systems."

Coincidentally, just as Softronics was completing its CDL miniaturization of the terminal, the Air Force issued a BAA with the same broad SIGINT objectives. Softronics was successful in responding to this BAA with its recently created CDL-compliant datalink; thereby expanding the customer base for these SIGINT products.

The specific Softronics technology is comprised of three separately usable but synergistic pieces of equipment all focused on advanced radio technologies:

  • Wideband SIGINT Receiver: a 30-2500 MHz SIGINT receiver that provides fast tuning, sophisticated DSP signal analysis and demodulation, and high speed FFT search/alarm. GPS-time-tagged samples can be downlinked for geolocation, as well as, further advanced analysis.
  • Wideband Relay: a 30-2500 MHz relay receives a user-defined frequency bandwidth and center frequency, and linearly retransmits it (with a 1 watt sideband Silicon Carbide power amplifier) at a separately defined frequency. Intended for "special signals" requiring ground processing, the relay operates identically to a traditional "bent pipe" linear (non-processing) satellite transponder, with the exception that the input and output frequencies are remotely tunable on-the-fly by the user.
  • High-speed Datalink: a miniature CDL-compliant datalink transmitter provides 10.71 mbps digital communication from the platform to a data collection node. The 15 GHz datalink provides all the features of its much larger, traditional predecessors, and can interoperate with existing CDL-compliant surface terminals.

Regarding the Navy Transition Assistance Program (TAP), Sternowski felt that they made some excellent contacts through the Forum event but emphasized that current SBIR firms need to focus on a specific business need. "SPAWAR did an excellent job in spreading the word throughout the Navy of our CDL-compliant datalink and was an extremely helpful sponsor," said Sternowski. "However, SBIR firms need to sell jointly to both prime contractors and government agencies in order to communicate the value of their technology. Softronics was fortunate to have a clear business target that related directly to its core competence."

Softronics, Ltd. is a veteran-owned, privately held, small business focusing on the U.S. Government market for advanced radio and SIGINT equipment. Softronics is CCR-registered, DCAA-approved and possesses high-level security credentials and facilities. The staff boasts over 500 combined years of professional experience in radio engineering. The company's in-house CAD allows them to model, simulate and design circuits, printed circuit boards, mechanical components, and firmware/software, with a well-equipped lab for test and verification. Mechanical parts transmit directly from the designer's SOLIDWORKS computer output to our precision CNC machine shop.


Agency: Navy
2007 - 2008 Navy TAP Participant
Phase III Success: $6.5M DARPA contract


"It takes stamina, persistence and vision to be successful in the SBIR world," according to Sri Sriram of SRICO, Inc. SRICO has certainly been successful since it received a 2006 Navy SBIR award for the development of non-invasive electric field sensors to investigate the susceptibility of complex electronic equipment when exposed to High Power Microwave (HPM) sources. High Power Microwave is a form of directed energy weapons system, which use electromagnetic radiation to deliver heat, mechanical, or electrical energy to a target to cause pain or permanent damage. HPMs can be used against humans, electronic equipment and military targets depending on the technology.

The Program of Record for this SBIR is the Joint Non-lethal Weapons Program chaired by the Deputy Commandant of the Marine Corps for Plans, Policies, and Operations. The purpose of this Program is to provide war fighters a family of non-lethal weapon systems with a full spectrum of threats and crises. Non-lethal weapons are defined as "weapons, devices and munitions that are explicitly designed and primarily employed to immediately incapacitate targeted personnel or materiel, while minimizing fatalities, permanent injury to personnel and undesired damage to property in the target area or environment. Non-lethal weapons are intended to have reversible effects on personnel and material."

As a result of the development of these new HPM weapons, new instrumentation to measure the HPM effects for both development and protection are needed as well. New probes that sense the horizontal and vertical components of the electric field inside a target over the full frequency range are required. Since the electromagnetic wave front changes as it propagates inside a target, miniature dielectric probes that can be installed inside a target must be developed.

SRICO has been developing its photonics electric field sensor technology for over 20 years with a goal of dramatically improving sensor performance. Commercially available lithium niobate electro-optical sensor probes are currently limited to about 100 milli Volt up to a maximum frequency of 10 GHz. Improved materials, new sensor designs and innovative manufacturing techniques are needed to achieve upwards of 100 GHz performance.

Better ferroelectric materials have the potential to dramatically enhance the capabilities of optical waveguide electric field sensor probes for use in Directed Energy and High Power Microwave (HPM) test environments. The SRICO sensor eliminates the use of an antenna or metal connections that can interfere with accurate measurement and characterization of the electromagnetic environment. The complete instrumentation system includes laser source, optical receiver, and the electric field sensor component.

The NAVAIR TPOC, Kelly McDonald, worked diligently to open doors for SRICO in the Air Force, Marine Corps and NAVAIR, eventually securing NAVAIR 2.5 SBIR funding. This led to the sale of four Photonic Electric Field Sensors for a total of $200K. On the strength of their Phase II performance, SRICO began marketing its sensor concepts to other government agencies.

As a result of its persistence and vision, SRICO was successful in securing a $6.5M DARPA BAA award for further sensor development (Phase III funding of its NAVAIR technology). Sriram said, "Over 20 years ago, I had the vision that new types of electro-optic sensor designs and improved materials would be needed for E-field measurement over a wide frequency range, with extremely high-sensitivity. It was our perseverance through many technical challenges that allowed us to eventually secure this substantial DARPA contract."

SRICO specializes in the design, development, manufacture, and worldwide marketing of high performance integrated optical components and subsystems for optical signal transmission, sensing, and measurement applications. Since its founding in 1990, the company has been involved in cutting-edge scientific and engineering research and product development with a view to meeting future global demand for high performance, high speed, small size, low cost optical chip-based components. SRICO provides technology and product development services to both government and industry and does custom product design for clients worldwide.

The company has significant expertise in the design and development of advanced photonics electric field and voltage sensors, from very low to very high frequency requirements, for a variety of military and civilian applications. SRICO has won two prestigious R&D-100 Awards for its innovative sensor products and currently has seven patents. In addition to sensing and measurement applications, the company also specializes in high performance photonics components and optoelectronic subsystems for signal transmission in optical communications networks. SRICO products include sideband photonics e-field and voltage sensors & systems; all-optical electrophysiological (EEG & EKG) sensors; high-speed electro-optic modulators; periodically poled lithium niobate (PPLN) devices; frequency converters; and fiber optic links.

Techno-Sciences, Inc.

Agency: Navy
2006 - 2007 Navy TAP Participant
Phase III Success: $70M in SPAWAR contracts


Techno-Sciences (TSi), a 36 year old high-technology company headquartered in Beltsville, MD, has extensive experience with the Navy, NASA, ARL, NRL and many other government organizations. It is primarily focused on four main technology sectors: Systems engineering, Aerospace engineering, Search and Rescue systems (COSPAS/SARSAT), and Trident integrated maritime operations management and information systems. This last sector provides shipboard and shore stations with information gathering, processing, management, and display systems to enhance Maritime Domain Awareness.

It is in this latter category that Techno-Sciences was successful in securing Phase III funding in excess of $70M under multiple Integrated Maritime Surveillance Systems programs managed by PMW-740. These systems incorporate communications management technology developed in support of the Special Operations Command SBIR SOCOM02-006. The kernel of their success was the maturation of their "Bridge Communications System" that was designed to provide an automated system to manage various forms of data communications (voice, email, images, etc.) through existing onboard communications channels.

Military radios generally use secure DoD networks to communicate with specified command centers. Often such communications are conducted via voice-based systems. To obviate this need for "active" attention, the ability to automatically send and receive data seamlessly through secure military radios was a necessity identified across DoD. Initially secure radios were used only for voice communications and did not have the functionality to communicate text messages or images. While proprietary software was available to send emails over a satellite link, it required substantial manual intervention on the part of an operator. Techno-Sciences overcame these limitations with its integrated Bridge Communications System (BCS) which provided automated data exchange from on-board systems without tying up a "live operator". In remote locations, crews needed an automated system that would manage their outgoing communications while providing them with command activities pertinent to mission critical data.

Specifically these systems were targeted at small combat crafts (11 meter range) known as Rigid Hull Inflatable Boats (RHIBs) deployed in remote locations. Beyond the automated capabilities, these RHIB based units also needed to be sufficiently "ruggedized" to withstand the harsh environments (high shock, high heat, possible flooding). Providing this capability was the essence of TSi's BCS concept.

TSi successfully matured and transferred the core communications management technology from this initial SBIR program to automatically relay target track data, radar and camera imagery, and text communications between afloat and ashore sensor nodes and central command centers in comprehensive Integrated Maritime Surveillance Systems (IMSS). On the strength of its technical accomplishments, beginning in October 2006 and continuing over the next two years, Techno-Sciences was awarded four sole source SPAWAR contracts, ultimately totaling in excess of $70, to provide, install, train and support IMSS for Indonesia and Malaysia to combat piracy and terrorism. In Indonesia this system provided a network of eighteen shore-based coastal surveillance stations, eleven ship-based sensor and communications packages, and four regional and fleet command and control centers spanning the Indonesian coast along the Strait of Malacca and the Sulawesi Sea. In Malaysia it provided eight coastal surveillance stations and a regional command center to monitor the eastern coast of Sabah on the Sulu and Sulawesi Seas.

Indicative of the significance of this deployment, Admiral Mike Mullen, the current Commander of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who was then the Chief of Naval Operations, said that, "Coordinated operations by Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore to counter piracy and terrorist movements around the Strait of Malacca-clearly a model maritime network." This concept fit nicely into the "1,000 ship Navy" being advanced by the U.S. Navy at that time wherein vessels and related naval assets from different countries would work together to keep order on the high seas. Mullen further stated, "I believe an international '1,000 ship Navy,' offers a real opportunity to increase partner nation capabilities while reducing transnational crime, WMD proliferation, terrorism and human trafficking."

TSi is proud of the fact that these SPAWAR contracts and that TSi's product line grew out of a Special Operations Command SBIR that started as a modest Phase I contract and grew into multiple multi-million dollar Phase III contracts and other related awards; a classic SBIR commercialization success story. Although they received no Plus-Up money, TSi still made a point of notifying their local Congressional representatives and Small Business offices of their SBIR successes, letting them know the impact SBIR has had on the local community.

While TSi's participation in the 2007 Navy Forum itself did not lead to any direct contracts, it provided substantial visibility across Navy Program Managers and prime contractors for this relatively small 80 person company. "The biggest value that the Transition Assistance Program provided Techno-Sciences was the honing of our message for our capabilities brochure and the assistance provided us in defining ourselves as an 'innovation in engineering' company," said Kurt Kacprzynski, vice president of TSi's Trident Division. "It helped us take a hard look at who we are and what we were offering just as we began playing in the big leagues, and helped us to refine our technology transition and business plans accordingly. The TAP program was helpful in providing experienced resources to guide us and push us when necessary. Dr. Jenny Servo's Business Planning for Scientists and Engineers book that we used during the TAP has been borrowed from my office more times than I can count."

Trident Systems, Inc.

Agency: Navy
2006 - 2007 Navy TAP Participant
Phase III Success: $4M from the Navy and Marine Corps and a $20M IDIQ from SOCOM


"Flexibility is the key...don't rely on the expectation that prime contracts (or Programs of Record) will necessarily provide Phase III funding, but listen to what your SYSCOM really needs!" That is the recommendations from Mike Casey, Director of Business Development at Trident Systems, successful recipient of a $20M Special Operations Command Phase III IDIQ.

"SBIR firms need to be especially tactical in assessing what the Navy and other military branches need in the search for end product solutions," said Casey. "In our case, the SOCOM requirements were emerging and we needed to be flexible and agile in our response to their changing needs."

Casey's advice, which comes from the vantage point of more than two decades in the defense market, could be very helpful to SBIR firms in search of Phase III funding. Meeting the Phase II technical specifications is the minimum expectation that most SYSCOMs have for their sponsored projects. Essentially, they are looking for end-point solutions that may bring together several Navy requirements into a more robust solution. That is what Trident Systems realized in addressing the NAVAIR sponsored SBIR to provide "enhanced image capture and transfer capability."

From the initial SBIR solicitation, it was clear that there existed theater mission needs to support persistent information and intelligence collection in denied areas. Naval Expeditionary Forces and Special Operations Forces (SOF) lacked the technical means to enable persistent intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) in a timely manner. Critical information was not being rapidly relayed to decision makers, actionable intelligence and preemptive cues were not available due to "stove piped" systems that were not properly networked or optimized. The overall Navy need addressed by the Trident Systems technology was the ability to deploy and maintain a persistent, clandestine, and unattended network of sensors in regional conflicts.

Trident was quick to recognize that this was essentially a "communications issue"-the need to rapidly get the data from the enhanced network to the proper ISR operator. There was already a process in place for gathering intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance information from tactical locations. The majority of intelligence is collected by National Technical Means (NTMs). One of the challenges was to complement the strategic collection by the NTMs with more rapid communications of the ISR information to the appropriate decision makers. The Trident approach focused on optimizing the wireless radios within environmentally hardened but miniaturized form factors. Transporting the information from the ground sensors to the end users provided the endpoint solution being sought by the Special Operations Command.

While there were a variety of network sensors and data nodes (low data rate, high data rate, as well as a Wireless Node Controller) needed under this SBIR, it turned out that the overall schedule was the main issue of concern to SOCOM. Trident Systems, Inc. was successful in meeting the timetable and sensor specifications of SOCOM and received a $20.3M IDIQ contract. They have fulfilled thirteen delivery orders against this IDIQ. Additionally, Trident Systems was awarded a $3M contract from the Marines, as well as a $1M from the Navy to develop additional communication links.

Today, Trident's family of hand-deployed unattended sensor products are optimized to meet persistence, environmental (MIL-STDs 810F, 461E), and transportability needs and can be deployed as an independent system or integrated into existing systems for a variety of tactical surveillance and force protection scenarios. The company's core competencies include Systems Engineering, Custom Hardware Design and Manufacturing Oversight and Software Development. Headquartered in Fairfax VA, Trident also has facilities in North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Washington and California-employing a total of more than 140 employees.

Although Trident Systems, Inc. has been in business for over 20 years and has products that are currently deployed with the U.S. Army and Marine Corps Forces, Casey felt that the Transition Assistance Program and the Navy Opportunity Forum® were valuable experiences for the overall organization. "The biggest value for this company was the way that the TAP program made us focus on the market and the product. Based on our TAP experience and the Navy Opportunity Forum®, we would recommend this Navy sponsored program to other small businesses currently in the SBIR program," he said. And as far as additional advice for an SBIR firm as it moves through the channels to Phase III, "In concept, incorporation into a Program of Record (POR) or adoption by a prime contractor is a logical objective of a Phase II initiative," said Casey. "However, SBIR firms need to be vigilant in their pursuit of the true 'end product' being sought by the Navy. Needs are constantly changing and may be evolving to a more sophisticated requirement throughout the three year SBIR time frame."

Weidlinger Associates, Inc.

Agency: Navy
2006 - 2007 Navy TAP Participant
Phase III Success: Nearly $3M in government contracts and $10M IDIQ contract from NAVSEA


Since the early 1980s and even more so since the tragic events of Sept. 11 2001, Weidlinger's Associates engineers have used internally developed software to provide timely and accurate support for blast vulnerability assessments, blast-resistant design and forensic investigations of terrorist attacks. This background led the firm's engineers to address the Navy's need for a non-explosive solution to their full ship shock testing requirements. By Congressional mandate, the U.S. Navy is required to conduct a full ship shock test (FSST) on each new class of ship used in combat. Ships must be able to withstand the effects of underwater explosions (UNDEX) as part of their design integrity. These tests have been traditionally done using high explosives, which cost upwards of $30M per certification. upwards of $30M per certification. A major part of this expense is the movement of the warship to an isolated location that is then monitored by helicopters and other surface vessels to prevent disruption or interference during the actual shock tests. As can be imagined, environmental groups have raised objections to these explosive tests due to their negative impact on area sea life.

Weidlinger Associates was successful in developing and patenting a non-explosive alternative to this Navy live fire approach using an array of air guns to simulate the effects of shocks associated with the underwater explosions. The array is charged using high-pressure gas which is released very rapidly producing a high intensity acoustic wave in the water. A tunable array of air guns of different sizes can be fired both simultaneously or out of phase to produce a very controlled and repeatable shock to the ship. Under these conditions, these tests can be conducted in virtually any location - a naval yard or a dockside environment - thereby eliminating the need for the ships to be moved to a fire-controlled area. By conducting these tests in a non-remote environment, this air gun approach has both eliminated the expense of the attendant vessels as well as reduced the environmental impact of the live fire conditions.

Raymond Daddazio, president and CEO of Weidlinger Associates, said "These live fire tests take upwards of 4-6 weeks to conduct and require detonation of 10,000 to 40,000 pounds of high explosives. While these tests had an excellent safety record, they did raise concerns regarding their environmental impact. Our air gun approach has virtually eliminated the environmental issues while saving the U.S. Navy considerable expense by eliminating the need to transport these ships and crews to a controlled location."

In Weidlinger's method, high-pressure shock pulses that emanate from air reservoirs are generated very close to the vessel to induce a ship response similar to that produced by explosives. They produce an analogous test for a fraction of the cost of conventional tests. Air guns pose little risk to personnel and property, or fish and sea mammals, because the source is less severe and the energy goes directly into the ship's structure rather than into the environment. The only by-product is the air that powers the air guns. Tests can be completed within the Naval base environment in a small fraction of the time needed for explosives tests, since costly and time-consuming travel to distant sites is no longer necessary.

Based on the success of this air gun approach, Weidlinger Associates was awarded a Phase III IDIQ contract (Five year-$10M contract) by NAVSEA for further development of their technology; along with congressionally directed funding for $2.6M. Additionally, the Office of the Secretary of Defense, Director Operational Test & Evaluation (OSD/DOT&E) jointly funded a demonstration of this approach with the United Kingdom Ministry of Defence using one of UK's decommissioned ships. Based on the success of this demonstration and the congressional funding, the Navy was successful in budgeting $117M for the execution of a comprehensive program, beginning in FY11, to develop and validate an alternative approach to full scale shock trials. As one can imagine, many operational elements need to be addressed along with the legislative issues to accomplish this significant transition from explosive testing. The Navy is pursuing a combined approach of computational structural mechanics modeling coupled with this air gun testing to assure the results are providing the full shock assessments required to meet the Navy's requirements. The Navy estimates a savings of $159M in T&E avoidance in its 30 year shipbuilding program.

Regarding the value of the Navy Transition Assistance Program (TAP), Daddazio stated, "I think the real value of the TAP was the opportunity it provided to really sit down and focus on the steps to get to a TRL 8/9 level of performance. That exercise was extremely useful for developing the Narrative Briefing documents and Quad Chart for the Navy Opportunity Forum®. The Navy provides SBIR companies with an excellent Forum that is structured around a valuable 15 minute presentation that can be used after the event for briefings with parties interested in the technology."

Weidlinger Associates is a structural engineering firm of 300 employees generating $63M in 2010 revenue. For more than 60 years, Weidlinger Associates has been known for its professionalism, innovative solutions and diversified practice. Much of Weidlinger's software was developed to support contracts with the Department of Defense. It is clear that these defense oriented technologies also play an important part in providing protection to civilian buildings, bridges and infrastructure which are as vulnerable to attacks as any military installation or Navy warship.