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Long Island

Long Islanders behind Miracle Mop, Segway and more inventions

Long Island has its fair share of inventors, some more famous than others.

But even if you don't know their names, you probably know their products. (You might even find some of the products in your home.)

From saving lives to solving pesky everyday problems and everything in between, here are some inventions that have ties to Long Island.

Brookhaven National Laboratory, the video game

Nuclear physicist William Alfred Higinbotham was working at
Photo Credit: Brookhaven National Laboratory

Nuclear physicist William Alfred Higinbotham was working at Brookhaven National Laboratory in Upton back in 1958, and one of his efforts was to make visiting days at the facility a more interesting and interactive experience. On Oct. 18, 1958, after about two weeks of design and debugging, his invention, a computerized contest called "Tennis for Two," debuted and became a smash, drawing hundreds of people looking to play. As it turns out, "Tennis for Two" is believed to be the first interactive computer game to show motion and allow for manipulation by way of handheld controllers -- the first video game designed purely for entertainment -- a forerunner to today's billion-dollar video game industry. However, despite his innovative thinking, Higinbotham didn't see any potential value in his gaming work, and never applied for a patent on "Tennis." (And even if he had, it couldn't have brought him any money, as the patent would have belonged to the federal government.)

Joe Bevilacqua, Retracta-Cade

Retired NYPD lieutenant Joe Bevilacqua, a Smithton resident
Photo Credit: Steve Pfost

Retired NYPD lieutenant Joe Bevilacqua, a Smithton resident and president of JSB Solutions, Inc., invented the Retracta-Cade a portable, retractable traffic control barrier, pictured here, designed for quick deployment by law enforcement.

Dean Kamen, Segway PT

The Segway PT, a two-wheeled, electric personal transportation
Photo Credit: TripAdvisor

The Segway PT, a two-wheeled, electric personal transportation machine was invented by Rockville Centre native Dean Kamen. The Segway is operated by a user shifting their weight forward or backward, then using handlebar to steer to the right or left. It's just one of Kamen's many inventions but probably the one he is most famous for. According to Forbes, the college dropout has 440-plus patents and has been called the "next Thomas Edison."

Raymond Damadian, MRI technology

Physician and inventor Raymond Damadian, pictured in his
Photo Credit: Newsday / J. Conrad Williams Jr.

Physician and inventor Raymond Damadian, pictured in his Melville office in April 2016, invented the first MRI machine, which he called "Indomitable" in 1977. It utilized magnetism and radio waves to detect the body's own subtle signals courtesy of protons that dance in the core of atoms. Before its development, the medical community had only X-ray images, which could not reveal the condition of the body's soft tissues and organs.

Eric Nguyen, Dual-Flush Retrofit for toilets

Who doesn't want to save on their water
Photo Credit: Yeong-Ung Yang

Who doesn't want to save on their water bill? Eric Nguyen, a 2012 Centereach High School graduate, invented a Dual-Flush Retrofit kit that allows a standard toilet to be converted into a water-saving system. It works by creating an option to use less water per flush for liquid waste, more for solid.

Michael Russo, Sticky Quotes

Michael Russo didn't invent the Post-it, but he
Photo Credit: Steve Pfost

Michael Russo didn't invent the Post-it, but he is the brainchild behind Sticky Quotes, a series of inspirational sticky notes. Russo said the idea came to him when a boss handed him a Post-it note with an inspirational quote on it. At the time, Russo was a student at Molloy College in Rockville Centre, and he printed the first version of his product in his dorm room on 8½-by-11 sheets of paper. Today, Sticky Quotes are sold in about 15 stores and online.

Horace Hagedorn, Miracle-Gro

If you've ever used Miracle-Gro fertilizer on your
Photo Credit: Jatinder Marwaha

If you've ever used Miracle-Gro fertilizer on your lawn or plants, the popular gardening product has ties to Long Island. Horace Hagedorn, left, is a New York City native who lived out his later years in Sands Point. Hagedorn created Miracle-Gro when he thought of adding water-soluble plant fertilizer to soil.

Joy Mangano, The Miracle Mop

Joy Mangano, a Huntington native who now lives
Photo Credit: Mangano's

Joy Mangano, a Huntington native who now lives in Smithtown, created the Miracle Mop in the 1990s to make cleaning floors easier. She is the inspiration for the 2015 movie "Joy," which earned actress Jennifer Lawrence a Golden Globe Award and an Oscar nomination. This updated version of the mop features a quick-release machine washable, bleach safe microfiber head, dual locking extendable handles, and a self-wringing internal helix.

Aaron Foss, Nomorobo

Port Jefferson programmer Aaron Foss was tired of
Photo Credit: Newsday / John Paraskevas

Port Jefferson programmer Aaron Foss was tired of receiving phone calls from automated telephone solicitors, so he created Nomorobo. The system hangs up on annoying robocalls before the phone even rings. His invention won a $25,000 prize from the Federal Trade Commission in 2013.

Gordan Dany and James Powell, Magnetic levitation transport

If you dream of a faster public transportation

If you dream of a faster public transportation into New York City than the LIRR, Gordan Danby and James Powell invented the maglev -- magnetic levitation -- transportation system while working at Brookhaven National Laboratory in the 1960s. The transportation system uses a dedicated guideway while being powered by a magnetic field, without mechanical friction, to reach speeds up to 300 mph as magnetic force propels the vehicle forward. The technology has been used in Shanghai, China since 2004 for its public rapid transit trains. Pictured above: Two Great Neck South Middle School students, accompanied by technology educator Randy Lane, work on the wind track during a maglev competition held at the Cradle of Aviation Museum in Garden City.

John Drakos, Winterize It Pro

Boating is a favorite hobby of many Long
Photo Credit: Ed Betz

Boating is a favorite hobby of many Long Islanders, but maintenance can be a pain. John Drakos, a Huntington resident and boat owner, created a specialized aerosol spray called Winterize It Pro aimed at making the process of winterizing marine engines easier and less messy. The product contains rust inhibitors and nontoxic antifreeze designed to flush out and winterize the water cooling systems of outboard or personal watercraft engines. In 2015, one of the nation's biggest marine supply houses began selling his product.

Obvious Solutions, Roller Squeegee & Roller Keeper

To make painting a house less messy, Obvious
Photo Credit: Ed Betz

To make painting a house less messy, Obvious Solutions Inc., which is owned and co-founded by West Islip resident Chris Ferencsik, right, invented the Roller Squeegee and Roller Keeper. The Keeper is a can specially designed to store a paint-soaked roller for reuse, while the Squeegee is a metal ring with a handle that removes most of the paint from a roller.

Max de Elia, Poolnanny

Huntington resident Max de Elia helped make pools
Photo Credit: Newsday / Karen Wiles Stabile

Huntington resident Max de Elia helped make pools a bit safer with the creation of PoolNanny, an invisible fence system for swimming pools. An electric wire is buried a few inches below ground level and then connected to a base, which plugs into a traditional household electrical outlet. Children and those supervising them each wear an anklet -- which de Elia, and his son, Nick, are holding in the above picture -- that trips an ear-piercing alarm, heard for several hundred yards, if the child enters the area unsupervised or the supervising adult leaves the area.

Stan Bratskeir, The Sneeve

The Sneeve, a stretchy, blue, antimicrobial sleeve that
Photo Credit: Sneeve LLC

The Sneeve, a stretchy, blue, antimicrobial sleeve that children ages 3 to 8 can wear over their clothing to help halt the spread of germs, was invented by Long Island public relations executive Stan Bratskeir of Port Washington. It was inspired by Bratskeir seeing his grandson, Chase, sneezing into his sleeve, as advised by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. "It was gross," Bratskeir said.

Ryan McGann, The Solar Cooler

From keeping drinks cold on the beach to
Photo Credit: Erik Verduzco

From keeping drinks cold on the beach to disaster relief, The Solar Cooler, invented by Shoreham native Ryan McGann, uses solar panels and a rechargeable battery to keep its interior cold enough to make ice. Unveiled in 2014, McGann built the cooler years earlier while he was an engineering student at Stony Brook University.

ThermoLift Inc., ThermoLift

Stony Brook-based startup ThermoLift Inc. hopes to change
Photo Credit: Randee Daddona

Stony Brook-based startup ThermoLift Inc. hopes to change the way Long Island residents heat their home. Peter Hofbauer and Paul Schwartz, above, created a natural-gas driven ThermoLift system, which acts as an air conditioner and heat pump, replacing heating, cooling and hot-water systems with a single appliance.

Arthur Lih, LifeVac

Arthur Lih, a Massapequa native, hopes to prevent
Photo Credit: LifeVac

Arthur Lih, a Massapequa native, hopes to prevent deaths from choking with his invention, LifeVac. The device is designed to suction foreign objects out of the throats of choking victims when the Heimlich maneuver doesn't work. Lih claims it's the only device designed to suction out a hard foreign object.

Nextek, STAR mobile solar power generator

Bohemia-based Nextek Power Systems created a generator that
Photo Credit: Chris Ware

Bohemia-based Nextek Power Systems created a generator that could help individuals who need access to electrical power 24-hours a day, like Brook Ellison, pictured above with Nextek's vice president Wayne Gutschow. The STAR -- short for Stationary or Transportable Available Resource -- mobile solar generator has battery storage that can connect to the home via cables, so it's self-sustaining even when the power grid's down.

Marc Asperas, snowman building system

Melville native Marc Asperas had a clever idea
Photo Credit: U.S. Patent and Trademarks Office

Melville native Marc Asperas had a clever idea that snowballed. Asperas patented a snowman building system. He's designed a plastic sphere that generates an electric charge, not powerful enough to harm anyone, but enough to get snow to bind with it. These can be stacked to create a snowman towering up to 7 feet tall.

Bobby Lenahan, IV Hero

Molloy College student Bobby Lenahan, of Moriches, is
Photo Credit: Aaron Foss

Molloy College student Bobby Lenahan, of Moriches, is hoping to make hospital visits for sick children less scary. His invention "IV Hero" is a paper sleeve decorated with different superheroes that conceals the plastic bag used while intravenous therapy is administered to help make the process less intimidating.

Josephine Geraci, gLovies

A Lloyd Harbor mother created a way to
Photo Credit: Newsday / Lorina Capitulo

A Lloyd Harbor mother created a way to keep her kids' hands clean from germy, grimy surfaces. Josephine Geraci invented gLovies, a disposable waterproof glove that protects children's hands from contact with public restrooms, supermarket shelves, floors or other places germs lurk.

Tom Rotanz, Power Shaft

Wading River resident Tom Rotanz, the former Shoreham-Wading
Photo Credit: Joseph D. Sullivan

Wading River resident Tom Rotanz, the former Shoreham-Wading River boys varsity lacrosse coach, created Power Shaft to help improve his players' training. Power Shaft is a weighted lacrosse stick designed to be used during practice to build muscle and strength through repetitive drills and training.

Josh Bonventre, RampShot

Gym teacher Josh Bonventre of Center Moriches invented
Photo Credit: RampShot

Gym teacher Josh Bonventre of Center Moriches invented the outdoor game "RampShot. It's similar to beanbag toss, but with a new twist. Teams alternate throwing a palm-sized ball toward a net built into the middle of a ramp on the ground between them to score three points. If the ball ricochets off the back, the thrower's teammate behind the ramp can catch it for one point. But if it hits the front of the ramp and flies back toward the shooter, an opposing team member standing in the middle -- called the "stealer" -- can catch it. The first team to score 15 points wins.

Scott Soifer, Vehicular Heatstroke Prevention System

Scott Soifer, a sophomore at Great Neck's North

Scott Soifer, a sophomore at Great Neck's North Shore Hebrew Academy High School, created a device to protect those left to wait inside a car. He created the "Heat-Free Car," or Vehicular Heatstroke Prevention System, a device that senses temperature, carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide levels to make sure children, the elderly and pets don't wind up in a dangerous situation. Soifer's device can turn on the vehicle's air conditioning, open power windows, sound alarms, send text messages and even dial 911 if necessary.

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