CAMBRIDGE, MA—Patents recognize innovation and as a result can lead to all kinds of inventions. At Draper, a handful of recent examples shows just how far a good idea will go in a range of applications—like restoring a sense of touch to an amputee with a prosthetic hand. Or building a tiny biocompatible scaffold to regenerate a severed nerve. Or devising an early warning system that can sense the smallest change to a pipe, beam and ocean vessel hull, and potentially prevent an oil spill, building collapse or ship’s sinking.
These breakthroughs, all developed by Draper engineers and scientists, earned top honors at the Boston Patent Law Association’s annual review of the best patents in New England in 2017. Of the 52 final nominees, 12 were selected as honorees and four as Top Honorees. Approximately 50 people attended the event on Oct. 23, 2017, in Boston.
Draper’s Dr. Almir Davis was named among the four Top Honorees for a remote sensing technology that can sense corrosion and erosion in oil and gas pipelines more accurately and with less effort than before. Since pipeline corridors travel through mountains, forests, wetlands and urban areas, Davis’s sensor and wireless sensor network, branded by Draper as WiSense, has the potential of preventing oil spill disasters while saving time, money and resources when deployed.
In accepting the award, Davis credited the company’s work environment and his colleagues. “Draper is as an innovative workplace, with highly capable and creative colleagues, where we can solve the hard problems. It’s an honor to compete for the highest science and technology honors, such as the Invented Here! award.” Joining Davis as fellow inventors on the patent were Draper engineers Philip Babcock, Richard Berthold, Donald Gustafson and William Trinkle.
In addition to Davis’s honor, the BPLA awarded Draper with two awards in neurotechnology. Anilkumar Achyuta, James Hsiao and Bryan McLaughlin earned an award for a patent describing a novel approach to interfacing with a nerve that can help restore a sense of touch. Their second award, also in neurotechnology, describes a way to regenerate a severed nerve. Achyuta was awarded honoree status for both innovations.
The Boston Patent Law Association, established in 1924, is one of this country’s oldest associations of intellectual property lawyers and professionals. The BPLA’s Invented Here! award highlights inventions made by New England inventors or New England companies.