Inventors Display Gadgets

A wheelchair lift, an off-road wheelchair and a device that makes tying shoes easier were among the ideas on display […]

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A wheelchair lift, an off-road wheelchair and a device that makes tying shoes easier were among the ideas on display at the 53rd annual Minnesota Inventors Congress (MIC) in June. The event was held in Redwood Falls. Visitors could see displays, a robotics show and the MIC Jump$tart competition.

“The 2010 Invention and Idea Show was a great success,” said Deb Hess, MIC Executive Director. “The unique aspect of our show is that inventions were exhibited in many industries – from sports and recreation, tools, consumer goods, and energy to transportation and medical and educational categories. Inventors shared stories with me about the feedback they received regarding their invention and how they met people who can help them get their products into the marketplace and make those reliable connections needed to advance their ideas.”

Some of the award-winning inventions serve people with disabilities. The invention chosen to receive the $1,000 MIC Jump$tart Competition first place award, sponsored by the Malco Design and Deliver Group, was the Action Track-chair, an off-road wheelchair invented by Tim Swenson of Marshall. Swenson also won a gold medallion, a second place award for best overall invention, the Gordon Volkenant Award for Best Working Model and the Maynard Speece Peoples’ Choice award. Presentation of the Speece award marks the end of the annual MIC events.

Yet another award won by Swenson was first place in the Minnesota AgrAbility competition. The Minnesota Agr-Ability Program helps farmers and other agricultural workers work despite disabilities, and is dedicated to helping them work safely and independently.

David Braaten of Sunburg won awards for his wheelchair helper, a device which lifts people safely out of wheelchairs. He won a gold medallion as well as a certificate for Best Health Care or Medical Invention. The latter prize included a $100 gift card.

Fred Pirkle of Westminster, PA won a silver medallion for his one-handed shoe-tying device, the no-bow shoe. He also won the Professor Otto Schmidt Award for Most Innovative device. He also won a $100 gift card. Braaten also won a Minnesota AgrAbility second place award for his invention.

The invention chosen by the judges to receive the $ 1,000 F. Robert Starr Award (Grand Prize) was the BACKSAFE, invented by Jovan Palmieri of Elk River. Hundreds are killed by backing vehicles each year. BackSafe saves lives and prevents backing accidents by revolutionizing communications between spotters and drivers of large vehicles.

Inventors came from all across the United States to participate in the MIC. Awards were also given for youngest and oldest inventor, the inventor who traveled the longest distance and in recognition of specific types of inventions. Wide ranges of inventions were on display, including medical, agricultural, industrial, educational and recreational devices.

Information for this article came from the Minnesota Inventors Congress.

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