Innovation Festival

September 26 and 27, 10:00 AM - 5:00 PM

The Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History will host an innovation festival as a signature event of the collaboration between the Smithsonian and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). The festival will provide visitors with the opportunity to learn about the patent and intellectual property systems and how they support invention and innovation. 

Schedule of Events

Saturday, September 26:

  • 11:30 a.m. Everything you always wanted to know about Patents (but were afraid to ask). The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office will take the stage to discuss the patent process.
  • Noon. Rain water to wiper fluid. WiperFill will illustrate how people can maintain high levels of windshield wiper fluid in their vehicles by capturing and recycling water.
  • 12:30 p.m. Internet super sleuths and virtual shopping. Oakridge and Zugara will discuss the development of the online technologies that are changing Internet searches and allow users to virtually try on clothes.
  • 1 p.m. “Thinking with Hands.” Harvey Seifter, Art of Science Learning, will lead a guided activity to give visitors the opportunity to experience an arts-based process that sparks creativity.
  • 1:30 p.m. Advanced Accessibility Engineering. Dr. Rory Cooper will demonstrate advancements in wheelchair technology push rims, casters, backrests and joysticks.
  • 2 p.m. Making the energy pipeline more efficient. Solar Turbines, Inc. will showcase recent innovations to reduce gas turbine engine emissions.
  • 2:30 p.m. What’s on the mind of teen inventors? Lego Mindstorms inventors Shubham Banerjee and Cameron Kruse will join D.C.’s Benjamin Banneker Academic InvenTeam to discuss how they turned their ideas into real inventions.
  • 3 p.m. Building in sustainability. NRG Insulated Block and CGI Technology will present their innovations focused on maximizing energy conservation while also staying economical.
  • 3:30 p.m. To Mt Everest and Beyond. NASA will illustrate the similarities between the needs of an astronaut on a spacewalk and that of a mountaineer with the help of the National Air and Space Museum.
  • 4 p.m. Inventing flavor for chocolate. Mars representatives will help visitors gain an understanding of the development of flavors for chocolate.

Sunday, September 27:

  • 11:30 a.m. Patenting award winning pepper plants. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and the USDA will discuss the patent process.
  • Noon. Creating a gel adaptive inside the human body. Kansas State University scientists talk about researching hydrogels for use in medical devices and harvesting cells.
  • 12:30 p.m. The baby bot. Virginia Commonwealth University researchers will demonstrate a robotic device designed to help infants with disabilities learn to crawl.
  • 1 p.m. “Thinking with Hands.” Harvey Seifter, Art of Science Learning, will lead a guided activity to give visitors the opportunity to experience an arts-based process that sparks creativity.
  • 1:30 p.m. Backing up boats with the turn of a knob. Ford will demonstrate its innovations in backup assistance for drivers of all skill levels.    
  • 2 p.m. Curing cancer with collaborative medicine. Innovation Ambassador Andrew Hessel, will discuss his efforts to make open source viral therapies for cancer.
  • 2:30 p.m. Workout wear that is part of your work out. Venture Well E-Team, Physiclo will explain how their workout clothing, featuring built-in resistance panels, helps tone and burn calories.
  • 3 p.m. Inventing for Exxon. Dr. Abhimanyu Onkar Patil will discuss his work with ExxonMobil and the continuing evolution of motor oil including what prompted the invention of synthetic oil.
  • 3:30 p.m. Innovations in skateboards. Paul Schmitt, inventor and patent holder for inventions and improvements in skateboard design and Josh Friedberg, Executive Director of the International Association of Skateboard Companies, will talk about Innoskate, a collaborative research and public outreach program created by the Smithsonian’s Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation and the skate community.
  • 4 p.m. Moving an exoskeleton with brainwaves. Dr. Contreras-Vidal of the University of Houston and representatives from the Smithsonian Latino Center’s program Descubra will demonstrate how brainwaves can control an exoskeleton to help paralyzed people walk.

Festival Participants

Thirteen companies, universities, government agencies, and independent inventors, selected by a juried panel, will participate in the festival, which will explore how today’s inventors are creating the world of the future.

  • C.G.I. Technology will present a broad range of efficient, economical and environmentally-friendly green home technologies and innovations.
  • Ford Global Technologies will present the Pro Trailer Backup Assist in its 2016 pickup truck, which makes it easier for drivers of all skill levels to back up a trailer.
  • Kansas State University will discuss hydrogels, substances that can transform from a jelly-like state to a liquid-like state, which are being researched for use in medical device applications such as growing and harvesting cells to assist in cell therapy or regenerative medicine and cancer treatment.
  • Mars, Incorporated will provide a look inside confectionery chemistry by demonstrating patented flavor technologies that enhance the sensory experience of confectionery products.
  • NASA will demonstrate the Freeze Resistant Hydration System, which was invented to assure liquid hydration by storing a reservoir of drinking fluid within down clothing and having a closed-loop heating element.
  • NRG Insulated Block will demonstrate a high-performance, concrete-sandwich building block that maximizes energy conservation in homes and commercial buildings.
  • Oak Ridge National Laboratory will demonstrate Piranha, a search engine that quickly identifies connections in documents that would be impossible for human analysts to identify by using an “intelligent agent” algorithm.
  • Solar Turbines Incorporated, a Caterpillar company, will showcase recent innovations to reliably reduce gas turbine engine emissions.
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service will describe the process by which it introduces new plant cultivars with examples of different peppers.
  • University of Pittsburgh’s Human Engineering Research Laboratories will showcase the technology used to design, manufacture and operate advanced wheelchairs.
  • Virginia Commonwealth University and the University of Oklahoma will showcase the Self-Initiated Prone Progressive Crawler, which helps infants with developmental delays learn to independently explore their environments.
  • Wiperfill will demonstrate how people can automatically maintain high levels of windshield wiper fluid in their vehicles reservoir by capturing and recycling water.
  • Zugara will demonstrate its augmented reality-based Virtual Dressing Room technology.

Festival participants were selected by experts in patented technology from the Intellectual Property Owners Organization, the American Intellectual Property Law Association, the National Academy of Inventors, and the independent inventor community.

The festival will also feature innovative activities that reflect the missions of several Smithsonian museums, research centers, and partners, including the Smithsonian Latino Center and Lemelson MIT Invent Teams. 

On Saturday, the authors and curators of the Museum's Places of Invention exhibition will be on hand for a book signing, 1-3 p.m. outside the exhibition.

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