USF Research News

USF licensed technologies selected for national Innovation Festival

October 31, 2014

Rolling Dance Chair and Skatecase will be featured at U.S. Patent and Trademark Office/Smithsonian Institution event

TAMPA, Fla. — The Rolling Dance Chair and Skatecase will be showcased as part of the Innovation Festival at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum Nov. 1-2, 2014. The University of South Florida (USF) licensed technologies are two of the 10 inventions from around the country to be featured.

The Innovation Festival is part of a five-year collaboration between the Smithsonian Institution and the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) to develop programs and exhibitions showcasing American innovation. The event will highlight accomplishments of American inventors and feature displays, talks, and performances, as well as craft projects for children and adults.

Rolling Dance Chair

The Rolling Dance Chair, a project initiated in 2005 by USF instructor Merry Lynn Morris, is a smart-phone controlled, omnidirectional, powered wheelchair that does not require arms or hands to operate. By wearing or holding the wireless device, the user can move in a fluid motion, offering more freedom to dancers with disabilities and supporting artistic freedom.

The Rolling Dance Chair (Photo: USF News)

Morris, who teaches in the College of The Arts, designed and developed several assistive mobility devices for application in both dance and daily living contexts. Through Morris's work with multiple collaborators, including the USF College of Engineering, Visual Realm, Inc. and, currently, Edmonston Consulting Services, several prototype iterations have come to fruition and have received patents for their innovative nature.

The rolling dance chair technology received the 2013 AUTM “Put A Face On It” video award and the 2011 Thatcher Hoffman Smith Creativity in Motion award.


As an independent student inventor at USF, Alexei Novtizky created the Skatecase, a skateboard that acts like a briefcase. Novtizky partnered with USF, and since graduating, has founded Looshes Labs Skate LLC, to commercialize his technology that allows skateboarders to store small electronics and personal items inside the skateboard.

Novitzky’s invention was showcased by USF President Judy Genshaft during an innovation conference at the U.S. Department of Commerce in October 2012. Last year, he was selected from thousands of entries to participate in the 2013 StartupBus competition and his team, BriefSkate, was one of six selected as the StartupBus All Star finalists. His was the only team to build a product while on the StartupBus.

Skatecase (from left) USF President Judy Genshaft, Alexei Novtizky, and Elizabeth Dougherty from the USPTO (Photo: Aimee Blodgett, USF News)

Organized through The Smithsonian Associates, the festival focuses on inventors and the processes by which ideas become products and services. It also offers a look into the patent and intellectual property systems and shows how they support invention and innovation. The festival will feature examples of cutting-edge technologies developed by individual inventors working independently or in corporate, government and university settings.

The Innovation Festival is the first joint event as part of a memorandum of agreement (MOA) between the USPTO and the Smithsonian Institution. The collaboration aims to create programs and conduct forums where innovators of all ages can interact and learn about the patent process, while also inspiring future generations of American creativity, according to Michelle K. Lee, Deputy Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Deputy Director of the USPTO.

About the University of South Florida
The University of South Florida is a high-impact, global research university dedicated to student success. USF is a Top 50 research university among both public and private institutions nationwide in total research expenditures, according to the National Science Foundation. Serving nearly 48,000 students, the USF System has an annual budget of $1.5 billion and an annual economic impact of $4.4 billion. USF is a member of the American Athletic Conference and a Charter Member Institution of the National Academy of Inventors.

Media Contact: Lauren Golin,, 813-974-0102