The Invention of the Original From-Below Magnetic Levitator

Lorne PG

Inspired by his father’s dream to see a magnet levitated with nothing above or around it, and realizing that such a low-cost permanent magnet-based levitation system would be “uplifting for the world", Dr. Lorne Whitehead – physicist and inventor – was granted his first patent for his magnetic levitation invention in 1992.  It was now possible to suspend anything you can hide a magnet in, completely from below, at a commercially viable cost.

Dr. Harold Davis – a colleague of Dr. Whitehead who ran the University’s Engineering Physics Lab – became intrigued with Whitehead’s groundbreaking invention, and began working with him on refining it during the mid-1990s.

Inspired by his father’s dream to see a magnet levitated with nothing above or around it, and realizing that such a low-cost permanent magnet-based levitation system would be “uplifting for the world", Dr. Lorne Whitehead – physicist and inventor – was granted his first patent for his magnetic levitation invention in 1992.  It then became possible to suspend anything that a permanent magnet can be concealed in, completely from below.

A colleague of Dr. Whitehead, Dr. Harold Davis - who headed up the University’s Engineering Physics Lab – became intrigued with Whitehead’s groundbreaking invention, and began experimenting with his own innovations of the invention. Ultimately, Davis and Whitehead shared credit on subsequent next generation patents.

The first from-below levitator prototype
The first from-below levitator prototype
A recent mini from-below levitator
A recent mini from-below levitator

In 1998, entrepreneurs Karen Campisano and Mike Sherlock of Levitation Arts licensed the patent, and began further developing the technology, both with the University and with their own engineers.  It quickly caught the interest of Lucasfilm and Hasbro, and was subsequently licensed by Mattel, Hallmark and SEGA.

By 2002, additional next-generation U.S. and International patents had been applied for, and by 2006, Levitation Arts purchased all of the IP from the university. The first commercial manifestations of the new technology were then marketed under the Levitron® trademark.

This electromagnetic Levitron® technology is currently protected by two US Patents, with multiple patents and patents pending Internationally. These patents currently cover every known commercial manifestation of from-below electromagnetic levitation.

In 1998, entrepreneurs Karen Campisano and Mike Sherlock licensed the patent through their company Levitation Arts Inc., and began further developing the technology, both with the University and with their own engineers.  It quickly caught the interest of Lucasfilm and Hasbro, and was subsequently licensed by Mattel, Hallmark SEGA and others.

By 2002, additional next-generation U.S. and International patents had been applied for, and by 2006, Levitation Arts purchased all of the IP from the university. The first commercial manifestations of the new technology were then marketed in the U.S under the Levitron® trademark.

This electromagnetic Levitron® technology is currently protected by two US Patents, with multiple patents and patents pending Internationally. These patents currently cover every known commercial manifestation of from-below electromagnetic levitation.

Watch Lorne Whitehead tell the story of his invention

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