The inventor of the bar-code scanner endowed a prize program to encourage other innovations. (ISTOCKPHOTO)

With 605 patents to his name, Jerome Lemelson (1923-1997) was one of the most prolific and enthusiastic inventors in U.S. history. (He and his bride spent part of their honeymoon at the U.S. Patent Office.) His high-tech mechanisms contributed significantly to the invention of industrial robots, fax machines, cordless telephones and camcorders. But it was his invention of a “machine vision device” — the bar-code scanner — that made him rich and enabled him to endow the annual $500,000 Lemelson-MIT prize for outstanding inventors.

There’s also a student version, with prizes in various categories, worth $15,000 for graduate students and $10,000 for undergraduates. Those prizes were awarded this month, and Scientific American has posted a slide show of the young inventors and their work on the magazine’s website, Some of the winners:

●Catalin Voss, a graduate student at Stanford, is developing the Autism Glass Project — an application involving face-tracking and expression-recognition software that could be used with Google Glass or a similar product. The idea is that a child with autism could wear the glasses, be cued to recognize and respond to nonverbal communication in other people, and learn behavioral skills.

●When health-care workers wash a contaminated surface with disinfectant, it’s crucial to know they’ve cleaned it all. Enter Jason Kang, Katherine Jin and Kevin Tyan of Columbia University, who invented Highlight — a powdered additive that can be mixed into disinfectants to color them so workers can see what’s been washed and what still might have germs.

●At the University of Washington, Thomas Pryor and Navid Azodi created a pair of gloves that turn American Sign Language into oral language. “SignAloud” gloves are equipped with sensors that recognize hand position and movement, transmit data wirelessly to a computer and pronounce the words being signed through a speaker.

The full list of winners past and present is at Feeling inventive? The site also describes all the categories and application guidelines.

The $500,000 prize, for “mid-career” inventors, will be awarded in the fall.

— Nancy Szokan