Many ingenious inventions were designed by Brazilians, but almost none of the following inventors received the credit they were due and some did not even receive anything in return for their inventions. In this article, we will outline the 7 most famous Brazilian Inventions.
In Brazil, the organization which regulates rules governing intellectual property is the INPI, Instituto Nacional da Propriedade Industrial which stands for National Institute of Industrial Property. The INPI is responsible for the registration and granting of trademarks, patents, industrial design, technology transfer, amongst others.
1. Automatic transmission with hydraulic fluid
An automatic vehicle transmission is a type of motor vehicle transmission that automatically changes gear while the vehicle is moving. Thus, the driver is free of shifting gears manually.
Alfred Horner Munro of Regina invented the first automatic transmission in 1921, but as he was a steam engineer, his device used compressed air, and it therefore lacked power so it never found commercial application. In 1932 José Braz Araripe and Fernando Lehly Lemos then developed the first automatic transmission with hydraulic fluid.
They subsequently sold the prototype and plans to General Motors who introduced them to their 1940 model Oldsmobile as “hydra-matic”. The device was then incorporated to GM-built tanks, and marketed thereafter as “battle-tested”.
2. Direct-Recording Electronic (DRE) Voting Machine
The DRE Voting Machine is an apparatus that records votes by means of a display with buttons or a touchscreen, that processes data by means of a computer program. This processed data is then assembled and, after the election, it produces a tabulation of the voting data stored in a removable memory component and printed.
The voting machine was first implemented by Judge Carlos Prudêncio in the city of Brusque, Brazil, in 1989. Information regarding its conception is confusing, as many parties claim to have developed it.
The DRE Voting Machine was used in all Brazilian territory in 2000, ensuring a safer voting process and a faster vote count. Initially praised, lately the device has been criticized because groups around the world, especially in Netherlands and Germany, proved it to be unreliable as the results were susceptible to be falsified.
3. Personal stereo, the precursor of the Walkman
A personal stereo player is a portable device which plays tracks originally recorded on a cassette. With the evolution of storage technology, it could also play tracks from Compact Discs, Mini-discs and even MP3s.
It was in Sao Paulo, Brazil, in 1972, that Andreas Pavel developed his stereobelt . Pavel only filed the first patent in Italy in 1977, followed by patents in the United States, Germany, the United Kingdom and Japan after being turned over by electronic manufacturers like ITT, Grundig, Yamaha and Philips.
In 1979 Sony began selling its Walkman, a model very similar to Pavel’s. After a first round of trials that lasted until 1986, Sony agreed to pay limited royalties to Pavel. A final round of trials started in 2003, when Pavel and Sony agreed on a confidential contract.The settlement was reported to be a cash settlement of over $10,000,000 plus ongoing royalties on the sale of certain Walkman models.
4. Hot air balloon
The hot air balloon is the oldest and most successful human-carrying flight technology. It consists of a bag that contains air heated by a source of heat. Once heated, the air inside the bag is lighter than the air outside, propelling the balloon upwards. Attached to the bag is a basket which carries passengers.
The first recorded experiments for a hot air balloon to be used as a means of transport were made at the beginning of the 1700s by the Jesuit priest Bartolomeu de Gusmão. He succesfully managed to lift a balloon 4,5 meters in front of the Portuguese Court.
5. Antivenom serum
A serum designed to battle the effects caused by poisons of different kinds, the antivenom serum is to be administered as quickly as possible after diagnosis that identifies the source of the venom.
Vital Brazil, is a Brazilian internationally renowned immunologist, credited for the discovery of the polyvalent anti-ophidic serum in 1903, as well as developer of anti-scorpion in 1908 and anti-spider serums in 1925.
6. Brain-Machine Interfaces
A brain-machine interface is a direct communication pathway between the brain and an external device. They are often directed at assisting, augmenting, or repairing human cognitive or sensory-motor functions.
A group of 150 scientists led by Brazilian Miguel Nicolelis are working on a project of a robotic suit which will work to assist humans who have some form of motor disability. He proposes to put electrodes on a large area of the brain to obtain neuronal signals that can be interpreted by the robotic suit and converted to movements.
Its first public presentation occurred when a paraplegic in a robotic suit performed the symbolic kick-off to Brazil’s 2014 World Cup.
7. Heavier-than-air aircraft, the Plane
A heavier-than-air aircraft is an aerial vehicle which can project itself from the ground by its own impulses, overcoming the Earth's gravity, air friction and the basic laws of physics.
Alberto Santos Dummont conceived the 14-bis, a model that performed the first officially witnessed unaided takeoff and flight by a heavier-than-air aircraft. Its first flight took place in Paris in 1906 during a presentation to the French Aero-Club.
There is a lot of controversy about who performed the first official flight reconized by the World Air Sports Federation. The Wright Flyer, designed by the Americans Wright brothers is credited by some as the first heavier-than-air aircraft to take off and sustain itself. But Dummont’s supporters claim Dummont’s flight with the 14-bis to be the first one because the Wright Flyer was propelled by means of a catapult and taking off with the aid of a ramp whereas the 14-bis had its own engine.