The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office is giving top priority to inventors of homeland security technology. This is no small favor. "Typically, we're able to knock 14 to 15 months off the 17-month initial examination," says Steve Kunin, deputy commissioner for patent policy at the patent office. Surprisingly, the initiative to fast-track anti-terrorism technology was not prompted by 9/11. Actually, it was set in motion in September 1996 in response to the Oklahoma City bombing. At the time, the Clinton White House challenged government and the public to find ways to fight terrorism. The fast-track for counter-terrorism innovation was the patent office contribution. After 9/11, the initiative shifted from one of "counter terrorism" to "homeland security." Surprisingly, the volume of security-oriented patents did not jump noticeably after 9/11. "Interestingly enough, we haven't noticed any increase in petitions to make applications special [guv-speak for fast-track requests]," says Kunin. About 1% of all current applications come with a request for homeland-security fast track. "But that's no small number," says Kunin, "We receive 350,000 applications worldwide, so it's still 35,000." The patent office isn't combing through nifty inventions in search of security ideas, though. The applicant needs to identify the innovation as a security device, which must then pass through patent office criteria. The office, however, posts information about the initiative on its Website and explains what qualifies for fast-track attention to hundreds of daily callers.
BMW has already incorporated more than 10,000 3D-printed parts in the Rolls-Royce Phantom and intends to expand the use of 3D printing in its cars even more in the future. Meanwhile, Daimler has started using additive manufacturing for producing spare parts in Mercedes-Benz Trucks.
Researchers have been developing a number of nano- and micro-scale technologies that can be used for implantable medical technology for the treatment of disease, diagnostics, prevention, and other health-related applications.
SABIC's lightweighting polycarbonate glazing materials have appeared for the first time in a production car: the rear quarter window of Toyota's special edition 86 GRMN sports car, where they're saving 50% of its weight compared to conventional glass.
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