Each day at the National Inventors Hall of Fame® (NIHF), we have the privilege of honoring our incredible Inductees, who through their inventions have helped to improve the lives of people around the world. Given the many challenges caused by COVID-19, we would like to take this opportunity to recognize our Hall of Famers whose innovations continue to save lives and help us stay connected.
Innovations in the Medical Field
Inducted in 2019, Rebecca Richards-Kortum continues to develop low-cost, high-performance medical technologies for poor communities where standard medical equipment is unavailable. Her contributions include an affordable early cancer screening device, a CPAP system for newborns, a tool that detects jaundice, and an instrument that provides accurate dosing of children’s liquid medication. Recently, Richards-Kortum was awarded funding from Rice University as part of a team developing an affordable COVID-19 diagnostic device that enables reliable results for less than $2 per test.
As the inventor of stereolithography, a type of 3D printing, Charles Hull has enabled the rapid prototyping of anything from clothing to artwork. As this technology has advanced and became more accessible, it has found its way into schools around the country, and even into people’s homes. During the COVID-19 pandemic, 3D printing has helped meet the high demand for face masks, respirator components and other essential medical supplies for hospital workers around the country.
While serving as an officer with the Army Air Corps, Forrest Bird developed the world’s first highly reliable, low-cost medical respirator. Introduced in 1958, “The Bird” respirator began to save lives by helping users breathe easier. Over the years, Bird’s technology continued to evolve and made enabled the creation of the modern day ventilators used today. These machines continue to save lives by helping compromised COVID-19 patients breathe easier.
Advances in Communication
In 1994, Jaap Haartsen laid the foundations for what would become known as Bluetooth Wireless Technology. By using radio waves to transmit information between a seemingly endless array of devices, Bluetooth has made our lives more convenient by enabling wireless versions of many common items such as headphones, keyboards, computer microphones and speakers. Bluetooth has been essential in helping friends and families stay in touch while practicing social distancing.
Eric Fossum led the team at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory that developed the miniaturized camera technology known as the CMOS active pixel sensor camera-on-a-chip. Used in over 90% of camera phones, the CMOS sensor market continues to grow with applications that include digital SLR cameras, embedded webcams, video cameras and even swallowable pill cameras. This technology has allowed teachers across the country to use video conferencing platforms and make distance learning possible.
Recognized for modernizing and driving the growth of the internet, Radia Perlman’s Spanning-Tree Protocol (STP) transformed Ethernet from a technology limited to a few hundred nodes confined to a single building, into a technology that can create large networks with hundreds of thousands of nodes spread across a large area. Additionally, Perlman’s contributions include making internet routing reliable and scalable. Thanks to these developments, many employees are able to work from home to help slow the spread of COVID-19.
Learn more about our incredible Inductees
To read more stories featuring our groundbreaking NIHF Inductees, we invite you to check out our blog.