While the class lacks a "household name" like Thomas Edison or Henry Ford, the 2017 inductees into the Florida Inventors Hall of Fame are a varied collection of creative minds that hold a collective 260 U.S. patents.
Among the honorees is Richard D. Gitlin, a State of Florida 21st Century World Class Scholar and the Agere Systems endowed Chair in the University of South Florida Department of Electrical Engineering.
Gitlin, the holder of 60 U.S. patents, is being honored for his work across two fields: digital communications and medical devices.
During a 32 year career at Bell Labs/Lucent Technologies, Gitlin co-invented DSL (Digital Subscriber Line), which allows Internet access over telephone networks.
After retiring from that job, Gitlin began teaching, first at Columbia University and then at USF. Since joining USF, his focus has turned to medical devices.
After difficulties during his own kidney surgery, Gitlin has worked with USF Health doctors and other USF engineering researchers on creating a miniature videoscope for laprascopic surgery. It's a creation that puts a light source, multiple cameras and a wireless transmitter in a single device, as opposed to multiple ones.
In addition, Gitlin has also developed a compact VectorCardiogram that provides ECG information which can help predict a cardiac event.
While Gitlin is proud of all of his creations, he breaks them down into separate categories.
"There's a very big distinction between inventions," Gitlin said. "I have 60 inventions, 60 patents, but I have a very small number of innovations. DSL is an innovation - something that changes the way we work, think, play and do."
Among the seven other inductees in the 2017 class are the first husband and wife couple in the Hall.
- Issa Batarseh, director of the Florida Power Electronics Center and professor of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Central Florida in Orlando, for inventing low cost, high efficiency micro-inverters for photovoltaic (PV) applications that led to the creation of the first compact single solar PV panel. Batarseh holds 28 U.S. patents.
- Michael J. DeLuca, electrical engineer and IP counsel for NextEra Energy and Florida Power & Light, in Juno Beach, for his groundbreaking technology known today as “voltage scaling,” which significantly increased the battery life of portable communication devices. DeLuca holds over 145 U.S. patents in a number of different fields, including electric power conservation, wireless communications, advanced interfaces, augmented reality, and digital camera technologies.
- Kenneth M. Ford, co-founder and CEO of the Florida Institute for Human and Machine Cognition, in Pensacola and Ocala, for his pioneering work in artificial intelligence and human-centered computing, and for his significant contributions to the United States and Florida’s technology and research communities. Ford holds two U.S. patents.
- Phillip Frost, physician, inventor, internationally-lauded businessman, and current CEO and chairman of OPKO Health in Miami, who invented a revolutionary disposable punch biopsy tool, as well as various therapeutic methods for treating rhinitis, cell disease, and diabetes. Frost holds nine U.S. patents.
- Thomas H. Maren, (1918-1999), physician, Graduate Research Professor at the University of Florida (UF) in Gainesville, and charter member of the UF College of Medicine faculty, where he chaired the Department of Pharmacology for 22 years. Maren’s research resulted in the invention and commercialization of Trusopt®, the first topical treatment for glaucoma. He is a named inventor on two U.S. patents.
- T. Dwayne and Mary Helen McCay, the first scientist couple nominated to the Hall of Fame, jointly hold 15 U.S. patents in the area of metallurgical engineering, specific to laser-induced surface improvement (LISI) that have greatly contributed to increased patient safety and improved medical outcomes in facilities nationwide. Dwayne McCay is president and CEO of the Florida Institute of Technology (FIT) in Melbourne, and Mary Helen McCay is a native Floridian, Florida State University and UF alumnus, former NASA Payload Specialist Astronaut, and former director of the National Center for Hydrogen Research at FIT.
The class will be honored on Friday, September 8, at a Ceremony and Gala in Tampa.
The Florida Inventors Hall of Fame is located in the USF Research Park in Tampa. It's an outdoor walkway with plaques featuring the twenty members of the first three classes, along with an interactive kiosk that displays inventor biographies and profile videos.