STARKVILLE – When it comes to inventions, most people think of the wheel or the light bulb. Few people know what an osteometric device is.
But archaeologists and anthropologists everywhere will soon have the opportunity to cash in on the invention of Eric Anderson, a Mississippi State University graduate student who recently received $50,000 to develop it.
Anderson’s portable bone meter is an improvement over the standard bone meter used by scientists and researchers to measure bones. It uses a laser and provides a more accurate reading instead of users having to read an analog gauge.
“The POD is based on the bone scaling board, which hasn’t really changed since the 19th century,” Anderson said. “A bone measuring plate is basically a plate and ruler with two plates. You put a bone between the plates and grind them together, giving you the length of the bone.”
Researchers use the board to determine the length of the bones, which can be an indicator of a variety of things including stature, growth and development patterns, and sex. Given all the things the device uses, Anderson was shocked that, to his knowledge, a modern version of the device hadn’t been invented.
“I decided to try to remake it, and make something more modern for the new researcher. I looked at everything from Velcro to magnets—I was all over the place. My house looked like a nutty professor and I was trying to figure out something.” “Finally I was at Home Depot, and I found one of these laser meters. And I said, ‘Oh my God, that’s complete. That’s exactly what I can do. I can do it.'”
Anderson’s invention looks similar to a bone scaling board, but uses a laser on one of the plates. Within seconds, the device will take and average 20 readings to give the researcher an accurate measurement.
Anderson and his fellow graduate student in the Department of Anthropology and Middle Eastern Cultures at Michigan State University, created a company called Advanced Research Collection Technologies LLC. With this work, they are looking to make more tools that are not only technologically advanced, but reliable and affordable because these tools tend to be expensive.
Most recently, Anderson earned $50,000 by promoting academic research in Mississippi through business law. SMART funds will be used to develop an ARC Tech companion app for the Anderson device that will simplify data entry for POD users.
The company is a startup with the help of MSU’s Center for Entrepreneurship and Communication, helping Anderson secure SMART funds as well as a provisional patent and about $2,000 for the device’s design.
“Eric Anderson is fantastic,” said Eric Hill, Director of Entrepreneurship at the Centre. “He’s a savvy person who has seen a problem in the marketplace in the area of research he’s working on and has developed a solution that will help that and have global implications. That’s exactly the kind of thing we’d like to help and see MSU students do.”
SMART’s business law is twofold as Jeremy Clay, director of the MSU Office of Technology Management, explained to The Dispatch. Anderson benefits from the SMART business acceleration initiative portion of the 2013 Mississippi legislation.
“It’s a proof of concept for financing,” Clay said. “The idea is to take an invention that graduated from a university closer to the market so that we can market it in ways that benefit society.”
Currently, Anderson is in Poland teaching what he loves – archeology and anthropology – to students there. But on his return, he’s looking forward to moving forward with POD and its associated app.
“Our goal by the end of this year is for it to be ready to roll out. The next step will be to send out to potential customers to test it to see if they have any ideas or what they think about the product itself. So we can be the best thing for the customer.” “Going forward from there, I would say, continually improving the POD, making the search more reliable, faster, and making the search less painful for the researcher.”
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