26 Feb 2024

Hedy Lamarr & Her Inventions


Hedy Lamarr was more than a Hollywood actress. She was also a brilliant inventor and trailblazer, too. Born in 1914 in Austria, her legacy doesn’t stop at the movies she was in. Lots of technologies we use today were created or inspired by Hedy, and we’re highlighting 5 of them below.


Fluorescent Dog Collar

It’s quite likely that one day you’ve been walking as the sun is setting and seen a dog wearing a fluorescent collar. Hedy loved her dog, who was called Donner. Even though he was big, when it got dark Hedy couldn’t find him. She spent a while coming up with the best fluorescent formula to add to her dog’s collar, and many of the same collars are still used today!


Fast Aeroplanes

Hedy spent time with the Aviator Howard Hughes, and he saw how clever she was. She saw the planes he was working on and decided that she could make them faster, and she did! She spent time looking closely at the fastest animals and figuring out what made them so fast. Then, she applied this knowledge to the planes, which helped the fight during World War 2.


Traffic Lights

In the past, traffic lights didn’t have an amber light. They just had a red and green light, which would get switched between quite quickly. Hedy was able to develop a safer system for switching the lights which was a lot better for drivers.


Carbonated Drinks

Hedy worked on a lot of different things over her life, and a lot of them were lost, never used, or sometimes failed. What we do know is that she tried to come up with solutions to the problems she could see at the time. During World War 2, Coca-Cola weren’t able to supply their drinks. Because of this, she developed a little pressed cube that you could add to water to create a fizzy drink like Coca-Cola”. However, Hedy herself said the drink didn’t taste too good and the idea ended up being scrapped. However, she helped develop the fizzy drinks we know today.


WiFi & Bluetooth

Whilst Hedy didn’t invent Wifi or Bluetooth, she did make a very early version of them, which meant the versions we have today could exist!

Hedy’s invention is another example of how she solved real-life problems. During World War 2, she could see that a lot of torpedoes were radio-controlled. This meant that the Nazis were able to bring them down. Because of this, she developed frequency-hopping technology, meaning torpedoes wouldn’t be detected. Nowadays, Wifi and Bluetooth both use frequency-hopping spread spectrum (FHSS).

Did you enjoy this article? Click on a star to rate it!
Next in this issue...
Upcoming Events
Parent, guardian, teacher or volunteer?

The Stemettes Zine is a curated space tailored specifically to Stemettes but we have plenty of content and updates for you folks too. Sign up to receive the Stemettes newsletter and we’ll keep you updated with the latest from Stemettes HQ including events, activities, resources and fundraising activities.