USF Research News

‘Shopping cart of the future’ wins USF Young Innovator Competition

February 13, 2014

From kindergarten to high school, Tampa Bay’s young inventors show their stuff

By Judy Lowry
USF Research News

TAMPA, Fla. (Feb. 13, 2014) – The shopping cart of the future—one that displays your shopping list, suggests recipes, advises on nutrition and even alerts you to allergens—took top honors Tuesday night at the USF Young Innovator Competition.

Melissa Feingold, an 8th grader at the Academy of the Lakes, won the $1,000 cash grand prize, along with $1,000 for her school, for her invention, “Shopping Cart with Tech Functions.” Feingold competed against nine other finalists pitching their inventions to a panel of celebrity judges at the University of South Florida Patel Center on the Tampa campus.

Third grade student Heather Boss was awarded $500, with $500 for Canterbury School of Florida, as first runner-up for her glow-in-the-dark “Night Glow Socks.” Seventh grader and second runner-up Jessica Bennett received a $250 cash prize, and $250 for Carwise Middle School, for her “Shout Stopper,” a smart technology that lets parents press a button to mute the music on their child’s headphones and talk to them without shouting.

The evening began with USF President Judy Genshaft presenting a patent plaque to 2010 competition winner Luke Anderson for his winning invention, the Staple Tank. Anderson is the second USF Young Innovator to receive a U.S. patent. Last year, 2011 winner Marissa Streng was awarded a U.S. patent for her Puff-n-Fluff dog drying system. This year, all 10 finalists’ inventions were “patent-pending,” with filed patent applications before the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, at the time of the competition.

At the end of the evening, HSN television host Bill Green, returning as a judge for the fourth year, presented the finalists with gifts from HSN that ranged from a laptop computer to sunglasses with built-in video camera. The finalists received annual family memberships from Tampa’s Museum of Science and Industry. In addition, each of the more than 500 K-12 students from Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco, Hernando Citrus, Manatee, Sarasota, and Polk counties who submitted inventions received a free day pass from MOSI.

Anton Hopen, USF alumnus, nationally-recognized patent attorney and managing partner of the Smith & Hopen law firm, is founder and director of the USF Young Innovator Competition, which began in 2009. The competition was the brainchild of his young daughter, Anna, and was created to promote innovation and creativity in the Tampa Bay region’s young people.

The 500+ entries were screened by a panel of patent experts and final competitors were selected by members of the USF Chapter of the National Academy of Inventors (NAI).

Nine of the finalists attended a workshop, held each year at USF, on how to pitch their inventions from presentation coaches Sebastian Dewhurst, CEO of EASA Software and six-time final competition judge, Kathryn De Laurentis, USF researcher, inventor and NAI member, Mary Martin, HSN on-air talent coach, and Nilay Choksi, U.S. Registered Patent Practitioner.

At Tuesday night’s competition, the finalists presented their inventions to a panel of judges that included Green, Dewhurst, Jenn Holloway, inventor, former Bay News 9 anchor, and community affairs coordinator at WTTA-TV, Paul Sanberg, USF senior vice president for Research & Innovation and president of the National Academy of Inventors, Israel Morejon, LED lighting technology developer and CEO of LEDnovation, and Joyce Ward, director of education and outreach for the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

In a confident presentation before the judges, Feingold pitched her shopping cart invention, which will have a screen where shoppers can log-in to access shopping lists and other information, such as family food allergies. As items are scanned and placed in the cart, the shopper will be alerted to allergens, nutritional benefits and recipes for their selections. The shopper’s personal account can be charged automatically, eliminating the need to wait in a checkout line. Judge Paul Sanberg characterized Feingold’s invention as “shopping of the future.”

Judge Joyce Ward, who is also a former federal trademark examining attorney, presented the 2014 Outback Steakhouse Top Trademark Award to 5th grader Hannah Fowler for her BRITE NIGHT trademark. Fowler invented a mat that lights up in the dark when stepped on.

Photos and more information is available on the competition website.

Judy Lowry can be reached at