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Youth, Patents & Play: Young Inventors Make History

“Necessity may be the mother of invention, but play is certainly the father,” or at least that’s what author, toy-maker and creativity expert Roger Von Oech claims.  For centuries, young inventors have been playing with their own ideas, bringing new and innovative solutions to the table, sometimes on a global scale.  Did you know that the popsicle was actually invented by an 11-year-old? Or that 15-year-old Louis Braille is responsible for creating the universal reading and writing system for the visually impaired that is still used today?

As opportunities and organizations, like FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) for example, continue to present themselves, so do the young innovators and inventors of  the world.  Here are a few more recent examples of some of the world’s youngest:

California resident Shubham Banerjee is looking to change the world with “Humanely Optimized” technologies like his Braille printer, Braigo.  Banerjee first designed the Braille printer for his middle school science fair project using a Lego Mindstorms EV3 kit and a few other simple supplies.  At just 13 years old, and with the help of his parents, Banerjee filed a patent and co-founded his own startup, Braigo Labs, where he continues to inspire and create new and better versions of his printer for the visually impaired. 

Hridayeshwar Singh Bhati of India was just nine years old when he patented his first invention- a chess board designed for up to six players.  Confined to a wheelchair after being diagnosed with a rare form of muscular dystrophy, Bhati uncovered a love for the game of chess at a young age and wanted to create a version where more of his friends could play at once.  Drawing inspiration from scientists like Stephen Hawking, Bhati set out to design his very own game board and was granted a patent for his invention in 2012.

Even younger than Bhati, however, is the UK’s Sam Houghton, who was awarded a patent from the UK Intellectual Property Office at the age of five.  At just three years old, Houghton saw his dad using two different brooms while working in the garden and suggested that he tie the two together for convenience.  And so, the Improved Broom was born, a device comprised of one large broom to sweep up bigger items and a second smaller broom to collect leftover debris.  Houghton was quickly recognized as the youngest patent holder in all of Britain. 

Inspired by other young inventors?  Share their story with us here!