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David Levy
1996 Lemelson-MIT Student Prize Winner

David Levy
Photo courtesy of David Levy
 

"People think I live in a fantasy world," David Levy commented in the December 6, 1999 issue of The New Yorker, adding, "I do live in a fantasy world, but a rational fantasy world." An independent inventor on the path to success, David Levy has created his own world abound with inventions, such as the world's smallest keypad. Levy has even established his own company to market his products. In 1996, he was awarded the $30,000 Lemelson-MIT Student Prize for his commitment to inventing.

Levy's career began with five years at Apple Computer where he was instrumental to the PowerBook's design—developing the Touchpad to replace the Trackball and repositioning the keyboard from the front to the back of the panel. Dissatisfied in a corporate environment, Levy left to pursue a Ph.D. and foster an independent worker's environment.

Levy's first product was Peelables™—layered self-adhering labels that peel off to uncover new ones—which he licensed to 3M and BASF for video cassettes and computer diskettes. In 1989, he started his first company TH, Inc., (without venture capital) to license his own patents.

Levy has concentrated much of his time on his Fastap™ keypad, formerly known as OneTouch™. Recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records as the world's smallest keypad, it is smaller than a credit card but contains full-sized keys representing the alphabet, a numeric pad and eight function keys—all used in combination. In late 2000, Levy created Digit Wireless, LLC to establish Fastap™ technology as an international ergonomic standard. In January 2005, the Fastap™ technology was made commercially available in phones.

Also included in Levy's list of inventions are the Wedgie™ bicycle seat lock, to prevent bicycle seats from being stolen—a common problem in the urban environment; an "Improved Vascular Splicing Method" using biocompatible O-rings to minimize blood contamination and reduce the time to seal blood vessels during surgery; and the Pass-It™ TV remote control, designed to be thrown around like a football (co-invented with 1997 Lemelson-MIT Student Prize winner Nathan Kane).

Levy received his B.S., M.S. (1987) and Ph.D. (1997) in Mechanical Engineering from MIT. A Manhattan Beach, CA native, with over a dozen patents, he also serves as "Inventor in Residence" to the Arthur D. Little Company. According to Levy, "Inventing is the best career I know."

Web Links:
Digit Wireless, LLC

 

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The Lemelson-MIT Student Prize was an important part of launching my career as an inventor. I remember the sense of surprise when I realized that the media attention and recognition ended up being more valuable to me than the prize money. If you want a career as an inventor, winning the prize is a wonderful way to start.
 
David Levy
 
MIT