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Black Inventor, Lanny Smoot, Has Over 100 Patents, Wins Award (video)

Lanny Smoot, a prolific inventor and 2024 National Inventors Hall of Fame inductee, has over 100 patents to his name.

Lanny Smoot

His work spans various fields, including automobiles, agriculture, biotech, and even magic, bringing science fiction concepts to life.

Early Life and Inspiration

Growing up in Brownsville, Brooklyn, Smoot’s journey began with humble means but immense curiosity. At 12, he built a unicycle from spare parts because his family couldn’t afford a new one. This ingenuity was encouraged by his father, who introduced him to basic electronics, sparking a lifelong passion for invention.

Career Beginnings at Bell Labs

Smoot’s professional career kicked off at Bell Labs, where he spent 22 years working on fiber optics and broadband systems. This period laid the foundation for his later achievements and innovative approaches.

Disney Imagineering and Breakthrough Inventions

For the past 25 years, Smoot has been a key figure at Disney Imagineering, where he merges storytelling with technology. One of his notable achievements includes developing a real-world Jedi lightsaber for Disney’s research and development team in Glendale, California. This invention required creating a uniform, bright blade that could fully retract into its hilt.

The Omnidirectional Treadmill Floor

Smoot’s most recent innovation is the Hollow Tile Floor, an omnidirectional, multi-person treadmill floor. This invention allows multiple users to walk infinitely in any direction within a finite space, enhancing virtual reality experiences.

National Inventors Hall of Fame Induction

In recognition of his significant contributions, Smoot was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 2024. This honor celebrates inventors whose patents have had a profound economic, cultural, or societal impact.

Collaborations and Competitions

Smoot’s work thrives on collaboration and friendly competition. His colleague, Alfredo Ayala, describes Smoot as a renaissance man whose creative spirit inspires those around him. Their camaraderie fosters an environment where innovative ideas flourish.

Advice for Aspiring Inventors

Smoot’s message to young inventors is clear: bring your ideas to life. He emphasizes the importance of action over contemplation, encouraging others to pursue their dreams and turn visions into reality.


Lanny Smoot’s journey from a curious child in Brooklyn to a celebrated inventor is a testament to the power of creativity, perseverance, and collaboration. His contributions continue to inspire and bring joy to countless individuals worldwide.


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