By Rochelle Broder-Singer | 9/2010
Outside the halls and laboratories of its universities, Florida is home to a thriving community of inventors working to turn their ideas into commercial success . The creations of some, such as Ronald Sargent, who lives in Fort Lauderdale, are high-profile: Sargent invented both the Porta Potti camping toilet and the "Dancing Water" fountains at Walt Disney World's Epcot park. Other inventors, such as Thomas Arthur of Medley, create high technology: Arthur invented a "medical systems integrator" that combines displays from multiple pieces of medical equipment onto one flat-screen display. Yet other inventions reflect Florida-born inspiration: ImpactShield, a hurricane shutter made from a fabric that stretches over windows, was invented by Miami's Cameron Gunn. The History Channel's "Modern Marvels" selected ImpactShield as one of the top inventions of 2007.
In addition to the challenge of creating a useful idea, Florida's inventors all face the obstacles of perfecting their designs or processes, patenting them and getting them to market. On the pages that follow — and at FloridaTrend.com — are profiles of some prominent Florida inventors, along with resources for aspiring inventors.