Hedy Lamarr was an Austrian-American actress and inventor, born on November 9, 1914, in Vienna, Austria. She is best known for her work in Hollywood films during the 1930s and 1940s. However, she was also an inventor who made significant contributions to the field of wireless communication.
Lamarr co-invented a frequency-hopping technology, which later became the basis for modern Bluetooth and Wi-Fi networks. She came up with the idea during World War II, while working with composer George Antheil on a radio-controlled torpedo. They realized that by constantly changing the radio frequency of the torpedo’s guidance system, they could make it harder for enemies to jam or intercept the signal.
Lamarr and Antheil received a patent for their invention in 1942, but their work was not widely recognized at the time. It wasn’t until the 1960s that their frequency-hopping technology was adopted by the military, and it wasn’t until the 1990s that it became a key component of modern wireless communication.
Hedy Lamarr was a co-inventor of frequency hopping, which is her most significant invention. Here’s more information on this invention and its impact:
- Frequency Hopping: Lamarr co-invented frequency hopping with composer George Antheil. They received a patent for their invention in 1942. Frequency hopping is a technique that involves rapidly switching a radio signal among several different frequencies, to make it difficult for an enemy to detect or jam the signal. The technology was initially developed to help the US Navy control torpedoes remotely, but it has since been used in many other applications, including modern Wi-Fi and Bluetooth networks.
- Improvements to traffic stoplights: In 1941, Lamarr received a patent for a system of synchronizing traffic stoplights that she hoped would help reduce traffic accidents. The system involved coordinating the timing of stoplights on major streets to create a more efficient flow of traffic. While the technology was not widely adopted, the idea was later refined and implemented in some cities.
While these were the only two inventions for which Lamarr received patents, she also worked on other ideas and prototypes throughout her life. For example, during World War II, she also worked on a tablet that could be dissolved in water to create a carbonated drink, which was intended to make drinking water more palatable for soldiers.
it is possible that her interest in inventing and her exposure to scientific ideas may have been influenced by the popular science and technology culture of the time, which included figures like Tesla.
Nikola Tesla was a prolific inventor and engineer who made many contributions to the field of electrical engineering, including the development of AC (alternating current) power systems and the invention of the Tesla coil. He also worked on wireless communication technologies, such as the Tesla oscillator, which he believed could be used for wireless transmission of power and information.
It is possible that Lamarr, who had an interest in science and technology, was exposed to some of Tesla’s ideas through popular science magazines or other sources.
Therefore, while it is possible that Lamarr may have been indirectly influenced by Tesla’s work, her own contributions to the field of wireless communication, such as her invention of frequency hopping, were the result of her own innovative thinking and collaboration with other scientists and inventors.