Nat Semi to prevent homicide, boredom, cancer

May 19, 2008

nat-semi-ceo-brian-halla.jpgWe learned a couple of things about National Semiconductor CEO Brian Halla during our interview with him at the Reuters Global Technology, Media and Telecoms Summit on Monday, not the least of which is his love of the phrase “megatrend.”

  • He has bought seven Apple iPhones for his family, with the last one going to his wife after she was stranded, out of gas, and her cellphone (which employed older Nat Semi tech) was unreachable.
  • He’s on a waiting list for the Tesla, which has no less than 25 different circuits designed by Nat Semi.
  • He feels that the tech industry makes people buy things they don’t really need.

In between discussing the state of the economy and the semiconductor industry, Halla pulled back the curtains for a peek at a few things the world desperately needs cooked up by Nat Semi’s research and development team.

Anti-homicide:
By training noise cancellation technology to identify gunshots and the sounds of breaking glass, Nat Semi’s engineers have come up with an idea to create an early alert system that would be able to dial up security automatically.

“If every thermostat in every office building, every school classroom…had a gunshot detection device that would wake up and immediately locate where the gunshot came from, lock down all the classrooms that are not in that vicinity, call the campus police to that entrance, that technology would’ve saved 30 lives at Virginia Tech.”

When will we see product? “Sooner than years.”

Anti-boredom:
What if you didn’t have to wait — at all — for your cellphone to charge up? “We’ll try to be the first company to be out with an instant charge capability on the handset. Plug it into the wall and it’s charged.”

Neat! Halla said they’ll have something to show in the next 12 months. Now all they need is a vendor brave enough to manufacture and sell these new power adapters that will destroy its entire business and those of its rivals.

Anti-cancer:
Through its work with a University of Southern California research group, with whom it helped figure out implantable electronic devices, it figured out how to adapt a range of temperature sensors to detect early signs of breast cancer.

When blockage constricts a vein, blood will actually speed up like water through a hose with a nozzle on it and that causes a Venturi effect which raises the temperature of the blood. So with a temp sensor probe you can actually see the signature of the blockage in the heart without having to invasively go in with an angiogram or with a scanner …

I was telling them (medical researchers) about this probe that we have. He said that would be fantastic for the early detection of breast cancer because cancer cells in the breast … (when) subjected to a temp sensor, heat up more than a regular cell …

If someone could do a home early breast cancer detector to say you should go have a check-up, I think that would be pretty exciting.

Halla said these projects were currently in the idea phase, but the company owns patents related to the technology.

Next up on the to-do list: ending world hunger.

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