The Department of Commerce's United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) will host an exciting, interactive exhibition featuring the top 25 inventions of the 2006-2007 Modern Marvels Invent® Now Challenge, an annual contest that invites independent inventors to share their inventions and ingenious designs with the world. The exhibition showcases the inventions in an engaging and interactive display of images, drawings, prototypes and finished products. The Challenge was developed by The History Channel® and Invent Now®, Inc., a division of the National Inventors Hall of Fame® Foundation, and sponsored in part by the USPTO. The exhibit was unveiled in a ceremony today at the USPTO's Alexandria, Va., headquarters, and will be open and free to the public through June 30. (See below for a list of the 25 featured inventions.)
The Challenge, named in part for Modern Marvels®, The History Channel hit series that showcases this nation's passion for ingenuity and innovation, tapped a panel of famed inventors, technologists and industry experts to determine the top 25 inventions submitted from nearly 2,500 of the nation's most innovative independent inventors. The top 25 inventors hail from 17 states across the U.S. and their inventions cover a breadth of categories, from medical advancements to environmental breakthroughs, but all were chosen for being true modern marvels with potential to have universal implications if brought to fruition. Most of these inventors also hold patents or trademarks.
Jon Dudas, Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the USPTO said, "The USPTO is proud to be associated with the Modern Marvels Invent Now Challenge as it provides a wonderful opportunity to recognize the work of talented independent inventors. We are also delighted to host this exhibition, as we believe it can inspire visitors to have a greater appreciation for our intellectual property system and perhaps even pursue their own inventions."
The USPTO is the final stop on a nationwide tour of the exhibition. It was unveiled at The Tech Museum of Innovation in San Jose, Ca. (March 16-28), then displayed at the St. Louis Science Center in St. Louis (April 5-15), then the Orlando Science Center in Orlando, Fla. (April 21-May 3). Prior to the USPTO, the exhibition was on display at Citigroup Center in New York City (May 10-25). In New York, the winner and four finalists were named from among the 25 semifinalists.
The winner of the 2007 Modern Marvel of the Year was Michael Sykes' Enertia® Building System, which uses a patented process to increase the latent heat storage capabilities of wood materials. The system also uses milled wooden blocks to eliminate the many materials and labor-intensive steps of house wall construction, replacing them with simple screwed-into-place units.
The Enertia Building System and four other finalists were chosen by the Challenge's impressive panel of inventors and industry experts. This panel included the inventor of the personal computer and co-founder of Apple Steve Wozniak, New York Times technology journalist David Pogue, The History Channel executive producer Mike Stiller, TIME Magazine editor Jeremy Caplan, Sharper Image senior vice president of engineering and technology Andrew Parker, Invention & Technology Magazine editor Fred Allen and PC Magazine executive editor Stephanie Chang, who chose these five inventions for being true modern marvels because of their potential to make significant impacts in their fields.
Modern Marvels Invent Now Challenge Top 25 Finalists included in the exhibition:
- MODERN MARVEL OF THE YEAR
Enertia® Building System
Inventor: Mike Sykes, Wake Forest, N.C.
Description: The Enertia Building System is a fast, economical, green system for building houses. The structural material captures, stores and distributes solar and geothermal energy without the need for fuel or electricity.
- FIRST-PRIZE WINNER
Inventor: Kim W. Bertron, Tallahassee, Fla.
Co-Inventors: Andy Bertron, Brian J. Boothe, John Wiley Horton
Description: The SimpleShot is a medical device that simplifies the process for mixing a powder-form drug with a mixing solution in a single syringe. In an emergency situation this device provides faster, easier administration of reconstituted drugs.
- SECOND-PRIZE WINNER
Inventor: Dan Didrick, Naples, Fla.
Description: The X-Finger is a functional artificial finger that allows amputees to control the movement of each artificial finger independently and as quickly as their real fingers.
- THIRD-PRIZE WINNER
Inventor: Christine Ingemi, Amherst, N.H.
Description: iHearSafe Earbuds are ear buds that connect to traditional music players and limit the volume of these players to prevent hearing loss in listeners.
- FOURTH-PRIZE WINNER
Inventor: David T. Krausman, Ph.D., Baltimore, Md.
Description: The DeSat Counter is an innovative medical instrument used to test patients for sleep apnea by measuring the amount of oxygen present in the blood. A drop in blood oxygen is a reliable indicator that a significant sleep apnea event has occurred.
- Baser Door Handle
Inventor: Owen Ralph Baser, Sacramento, Calif.
Description: The Baser Door Handle is a low-profile door handle allowing a door to be opened with just one's fingertips, with no need to grab or twist the handle.
Inventor: Pierre Bierre, Pleasanton, Calif.
Description: The BuildExact is a computer-aided design (CAD)-guided device that allows for the precise positioning of building materials.
Inventor: Shane Chen, Camas, Wash.
Description: The AquaSkipper is a user-powered flapping-wing device that allows the rider to propel through the water.
- Diesel Exhaust Purification System
Inventor: Raymond Covit, Los Angeles, Calif.
Description: The Diesel Exhaust Purification System forces diesel engines to re-breathe their own exhaust, reducing the amount of pollution they create.
- Nanowire Thin-Film Transistor
Inventor: Xianfeng Duan, Mountain View, Calif.
Description: The Nanowire Thin-Film Transistor consists of nanotechnology-enabled, high-performance, low-cost, flexible electronics that can be used for flexible display, electronic paper, smart clothing or radio frequency identification (RFID) smart labels.
Inventor: Christopher Marshall Goggin, Wilmington, N.C.
Description: GSPS is a radio wave-powered switch that allows one to control electrical devices.
Inventor: Cameron Gunn
Description: The ImpactShield is a high-strength fabric that stretches over a window to provide a protective shield in hurricanes.
- DC-AC Soft-Switching Inverter
Inventor: James S. Hacsi
Description: The DC-AC Soft-Switching Inverter is an electronic circuit that changes direct current into alternating current.
- EZ Change Lock
Inventor: Rod Herdman, West Chester, Ohio
Description: The EZ Change Lock is a new lock technology that permits keys to be changed by simply pushing a button.
- Machine Readable Code (MRC)
Inventor: Robert J. Hess, Stamford, Conn.
Co-Inventor: Scott Sullivan
Description: Machine Readable Code (MRC) Deployment on Medication applies machine readable codes to medications for use in tracking and authenticating drugs.
- Hybrid-Composite Beam
Inventor: John R. Hillman, Wilmette, Ill.
Description: The Hybrid-Composite Beam is a new structural beam for the construction of highway and railway bridges.
- Continuous Fabrication of Complex Composite to IsoTruss Structures
Inventor: David W. Jensen, Mapleton, Utah
Description: The Continuous Fabrication of Complex Composite to IsoTruss® Structures is an automated process for continuously manufacturing IsoTruss and other composites.
- Collapsible Power Plug
Inventor: Orrin Klitzner, Andover, N.J.
Description: The Collapsible Power Plug is a plug for cell phones and other devices that fits into a 12v accessory receptacle.
- Gryphon Shield
Inventor: Jesse Leaman, Berkeley, Calif.
Description: The Gryphon Shield is a modular, upgradeable information technology platform for motorized wheelchairs.
Inventor: Dennis McNeely, Gibraltar, Mich.
Description: Offsprings is a new automobile suspension system which improves safety, increases fuel economy and provides a better ride and handling for cars and trucks.
Inventor: Anthony J. Newbill, Wickenberg, Ariz.
Description: The Tire-Lift is a tire carrier invention that mechanically raises and lowers a carrier rack that mounts a spare tire, making the changing of a heavy tire truck much easier.
Inventor: Greg Owoc, Greenville, S.C.
Description: The MEGAFLEX-121 is a two-jointed ratchet that can auto-lock into 121 different positions by pressing one button.
- Aqueous-Froth Air (AFA) Filter
Inventor: Roy Pellegrin, Wailuku, Maui, Hawaii
Description: The Aqueous-Froth Air (AFA) Filter is an air filter that cleans contaminated air, trapping particles and gases in bubbles and then cooling the bubbles to form water droplets to wash out the contaminants.
Inventor: Dr. Igor Reizenson, Atlanta, Ga.
Description: The ClearSmile is a comprehensive oral hygiene device that cleans the teeth and gums, effectively replacing a toothbrush, toothpaste, floss, mouth rinse and teeth bleaching system.
Inventor: Dan Williams, Maryville, Tenn.
Description: The StayAlive is a marine survival system consisting of a panel arrangement on a lifejacket that holds numerous water survival tools.