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Virginia Family of Inventors Inspires Each Other As Youngest Receive U.S. Patent

Each member of the Kothari family has a US patent, including the children who invented a lollipop tooth brush to encourage oral hygiene after eating sweets. (Photo C. Komp)
Each member of the Kothari family has a US patent, including the children who invented a lollipop tooth brush to encourage oral hygiene after eating sweets. (Photo C. Komp) Catherine Komp/WCVE

A Henrico family is aiming to set a world record in inventing where all members of the household have patents. From high tech car devices to oral hygiene, even the youngest are identifying problems and developing solutions. WCVE’s Catherine Komp has more for Virginia Currents.

Transcript:

At a Henrico apartment complex, neighborhood kids chase each other in a courtyard burning some energy after the school day. The playmates might not realize it but two of their friends are inventors, among the youngest to ever receive a US Patent.

Nevaan Kothari: I’m Nevaan and I’m six.
Riaan Kothari: My name is Riaan and I’m five.
Nevaan: No, four.
Riaan: Four!

Nevaan and Riaan Kothari's patent was approved this past summer, No. 10,021,965. Their invention?

Riann: I got a lollipop toothbrush.

A lollipop toothbrush. Like most kids, they love candy.

Nevaan: Yes, yes, yummy, yummy!

But the boys also were thinking about their health - thanks to their parents constant reminders. So one day, they suggested combining the two.

Nevaan: We invented the lollipop toothbrush so kids could eat candy without worrying about their teeth.
Riaan: Clean your teeth all the time when I’m eating candy.

The edible lollipop has a hollow handle. On the end is a toothbrush that screws inside. And says Dad Ankit Kothari, they didn’t stop there.

Ankit Kothari: You can imagine a kid thinks out of the box more so than the adults so they were thinking of this from every angle and within a matter of days, you not only have a lollipop with a brush, they invented a plate with a brush, they invented a bottle with a brush, they invented a bag with a brush, they invented a spoon with a brush, a fork with a brush so I can keep going. There are probably 40 drawings that the patent includes.

Ankit and mom Hemanki saw the potential in their sons ideas because they’re inventors too. They have a number of patents, including one for a “smart visor” with a touch screen for self-driving cars and a “proactive vehicle door system” to prevent crashes when getting out of a vehicle.

Ankit: We really want to make sure that in Virginia there is a good presence for self-driving cars like and we are building that from the ground.

Filing a patent can be expensive and the Kotharis made a decision to hold off on other investments, like a buying a house, in order to pursue these dreams.

Ankit: Our kids have become the youngest inventors in the world and that’s because they’re seeing what we do on a daily basis.

The Kotharis celebrate small accomplishments too, like winning local art and dance competitions. They encourage all kinds of creative expression - including Nevaan’s crafting.

Nevaan: Okay...

Sitting at the dining room table, he’s got a piece of paper, tape, some stickers, a yarn pom pom and a tiny pair of black mittens he wants to repurpose.

Nevaan: Where’s my glue, where’s my glue?

With permission from Mom, Nevaan snips off the thumbs and glues them to the paper.

Nevaan: And this is the tortuga baby hatch so if there’s a baby animal, it could be their house.

The once blank sheet turns into a magical world for the characters of one of his favorite cartoons, Wild Kratts. Hemanki Kothari says the boys come up with all sorts of things using stuff she’d normally throw away or recycle.

Hemanki Kothari: So they're like whenever you have empty box, empty plastic bag, empty whatever, just leave it for here for us. And so when they're coming from school after their homework and everything, they will sit in this corner and they'll be trying to make something with the items that there. That’s I think really gotten them to start thinking in a way like, okay, this is what I have. And what do I do? What do I make out of this?

In addition to their invention company Be Top Notch, Hemanki and Ankit launched Positive Pasta Publishing and have released a series of children’s books, including one that introduces kids to letters and animals, as well as words to build their sense of self.

Ankit: From the very beginning, when they're learning A for apple, B for ball, C for cat. Why don't we just teach them A for ambition, B for brave, C for confidence, D for determination. They learn these difficult concepts, abstract concepts in a very unique way with the animal images. So they will remember the images, even if they don't remember the words and that's where since the very beginning of their childhood they’re remembering all these very positive words, which will help them in the future.

The Kotharis are hoping their inventions land them in the next Guinness Book of World Records. Another goal is to connect with tech giants and other companies who might want to pursue their patents. In the meantime, they’ll keep identifying problems and solutions, and finding ways to bring out of the best in young people.

Hemanki: Kids are the future of their countries, so it's very good if you give them proper tools at very early childhood that will help the nation to grow as well.

Natives of India, the Kotharis say they’re sharing their sons accomplishments with both countries.

Ankit and Hemanki: It’s a proud moment for us!

For Virginia Currents, I’m Catherine Komp, WCVE News.