Inventor of the Week Archive
for a different Invention or Inventor
The World's Smallest Keyboard
David Levy of Manhattan Beach, California, recently completed his doctoral degree
in Mechanical Engineering at MIT, has been inventing since the age of 9. His
inventions range from mechanical to medical; but perhaps the most notable is
his OneTouch keyboard
the world's smallest "full-size" keyboard.
Levy, who worked for five years in product development at Apple Computer,
took the trend toward computer miniaturization to its logical end. He designed
and built a fully functional keyboard, which is half the size of a credit
card, with the entire alphabet, ten digits, and thirty-one additional standard
Levy managed this seeming paradox by using keys in combination: numbers, for
example, are printed in between keys, and entered by pressing the respective
four neighboring keys at once; other items are entered by pressing the contiguous
corners of four keys at once. By always using four keys at a time, even men
with large hands can use their thumbs to operate the tiny device. Levy's micro-keypad
will surely find use in cellular phones, hand-held computers, two-way pagers,
and a host of other miniaturized products.
Overall, Levy has earned eight patents and has 18 pending. He founded a
corporation, TH, Inc. ("Think")---without
any outside venture capital---to market and license his inventions. His first
patented product was "Peelables"®: peel-off labels in layers
for items (videocassettes, for example) whose contents change over time. His
patent for a theft-proof bicycle seat has been licensed to Kryptonite Corporation.
Levy's most recent invention is a method of communicating with computers using
simple finger gestures.
For his inventiveness and entrepreneurship, David Levy was awarded the $30,000
1996 Lemelson-MIT Student
Prize. He has used the award to continue his work, and to inspire others
to realize that inventing can bring great personal and financial returns.