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Canon and NASA Team Up to Promote Innovation

Kelsey Davis, Sr. Manager, Digital Media Marketing, Consumer Technology Association

Canon and NASA have a common goal – innovation. That’s why when Eliott Peck, Executive Vice President & GM, Imaging Technologies & Comm Division at Canon met Kira Blackwell, the program executive of NASA iTech at Innovate Celebrate last year, he knew they had to find a way to work together.
NASA iTech Forum presentations were held at Canon America’s Headquarters earlier this year. We had a chance to speak with Eliott Peck on how Canon teamed up with NASA iTech and innovative solutions presented at the event.

The NASA iTech Forum was held a few months ago at Canon U.S.A., Inc. What is the NASA iTech program and how did the partnership between NASA and Canon first begin?  

“The partnership between Canon and NASA began as a result of a discussion I had during a break at Innovate Celebrate in San Francisco last October. I met Kira Blackwell, the program executive for NASA iTech, and after an insightful conversation, I proposed the idea of hosting an event at Canon Americas Headquarters in New York.  From that conversation, we worked together to make it happen.
“The NASA iTech program is designed to help bring about innovative solutions and to uncover technologies that may be used by NASA to achieve their strategic objective. The program gives innovators the opportunity to pitch their ideas to some of the brightest technology minds in the country as well as investors.”

Tell us a little about the NASA iTech finalists’ presentations that were held at Canon.

 “All of the presentations were very impressive. At the event, there were three finalists who received recognition. One team, FGC Plasma Solutions, is creating plasma-assisted fuel injectors for jet engines and gas turbines which could reduce fuel consumption at low power. By using plasma to change how we control combustion in engines, a wide array of improvements are possible.
“The second team, Germfalcon, Inc. presented the idea for a germicidal UVC product that could eliminate viruses and bacteria on commercial aircraft surfaces. A 99.99 percent or greater germ kill is achieved on a 737 or A320 in less than five minutes. 
“The last finalist, Somatic Lab presented hardware and software that animates the human sense of touch, possibly enabling communication that doesn't rely on sight or sound. This unique approach to augmented reality presents a technology that can improve existing communication systems by including more than two senses.  All of these I have to admit were quite fascinating.”

Why did Canon feel it was important to partner with NASA on this initiative? What is next for the partnership?  

 “I believe it was important for Canon to host NASA and iTech at our Melville headquarters because we have a common goal and that is innovation.  Not only did this allow us to engage and cultivate valuable relationships, it enabled us to demonstrate our extensive expertise in imaging, industrial, optics, sensor technology, medical and manufacturing as well as service and support.
“Hosting this event at Canon helped to enhance and expand the perception of our company to influencers from organizations such as NASA, Goddard Space Flight Center, Lockheed Martin, IBM Watson and Langley Air Force Base, who now recognize we are a leading-edge technology resource, not just a company that makes excellent cameras, printers and copiers.”

What technologies that came out of the NASA iTech program are you most excited about?

 “Although I enjoyed all of the presentations, I am most excited about the relationships we have established and can now continue to grow. Many of these projects require years of development.  I believe key technologies that Canon can offer, such as our sensor technology where seeing in the dark is a possibility, could be beneficial to these projects.  
“This is an exciting and big step for us and we hope that the participants and NASA representatives will see the benefits of our technologies and solutions.  We look forward to nurturing even deeper relationships going forward.”

Learn more about Innovate Celebrate – October 15-17, 2018, Boston, MA.