Inventor Peter Kennedy always has had a notebook or cellphone on hand to write down many of his ideas.

Recently, students at Darien High School in IDEA, Engineering, and AP Computer classes heard Kennedy speak about his many inventions, which range from the standard layout of the computer keyboard to the "pinch" screen zoom used on the iPhone.

His visit was arranged by teacher Andrea Aaron, who learned about Kennedy from his grandson, Aidan Kennedy, who is in Aaron's third-grade IDEA class at Royle Elementary School. While the third-grade IDEA curriculum focuses on inventors, Aaron recognized that students at DHS would benefit from hearing about Kennedy's creative experiences.

Kennedy told the students that he always had an interest in how things worked, so much so, that he owned and operated a TV repair shop while he was in high school. After high school, he went on to earn a Bachelor of Science degree in electrical engineering and a Master of Science in biomedical engineering at the University of Miami.

Kennedy has 13 issued patents, with three more pending, and has published 133 articles. He has been a human factors manager at IBM, Dell, Compact, Sony-Ericsson and Apple.

He started inventing when he was a child living in Florida, where he still lives, and continues to generate invention ideas from everyday experiences.

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Kennedy, for example, was working in human factors engineering at Apple when he noticed the use of proximity detectors on the floor buttons in an elevator. He realized the practical implications a proximity detector could have in a hand-held device, such as the iPhone, and created the technology to allow the screen to recognize finger movements such as the "pinch" to zoom in and out.

Kennedy also invented the intellectual property known as Dynamic Inventory Management for Deployed Assets that enables the military to locate its troops as well as the general public to find their misplaced phones. Also among Kennedy's inventions are the Mobile Phone Amber Alert Notification System, the System and Methods for Video Conferencing, and the Anti-Aliased Fonts, which enable people to read material on a computer screen easier and faster.

Kennedy assured the DHS students that they all had the potential to be successful inventors. He advised them that when they think they have finally succeeded in inventing something, to reconstruct it a few more times to ensure its viability. He told them to document their progress, dating and signing each entry, and once they were certain their invention was solid, to hire a patent lawyer to assist them in establishing their ownership of the intellectual property with a patent.