Five teams of students from the Rochester Institute of Technology’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf recently competed in the Next Big Idea business competition.
Judges reviewed projects, asked questions, and selected the first-, second- and third-place winners.
Daniel Cox and Anthony DiGiovanni, of Rochester, and Chad Cummings, of West Henrietta, earned the first-place prize of $5,000 for DiwaTech, an interface design solution to improve video game accessibility. By applying new technologies such as voice recognition, DiwaTech is creating a software product that allows visualized sound data to represent audio output for video games.
“Our vision is to bring accessibility awareness to the video game industry and to develop accessibility standards for video games,” the team said. We believe this will benefit deaf gamers worldwide.”
Thinking Hands, an online educational platform aiming to provide academic support through educational videos taught in American Sign Language, placed second, followed by Halbeg Technologies, a private networking platform for businesses wanting to improve interaction within communities, in third.
Karina Baker, a sociology and anthropology major from Culver City; Moises Tobias, a design and imaging technology major from West Henrietta; Alina Kenina, an exercise science major from Clarksburg; and Gabriel Veit, a new media/industrial design major from Austin, earned second place. Thinking Hands is an online educational platform that aims to provide academic support for deaf and hard-of-hearing students through the development of interactive educational videos taught in American Sign Language. Thinking Hands took home the $3,000 second prize.
Bakar Ali, a Master of Business Administration student from Somalia; Tyler Anderson, a journalism major from Las Vegas; and Eric Epstein, a software engineering major from Tucson, earned third place. Halbeg Technologies makes private networking platforms for businesses that want to improve interaction within communities. It offers a way for members within communities to share resources such as posting requests, offering jobs, trading or bartering goods, carpooling or ridesharing, and chatting about community issues, in one platform. Team members said, “Our ‘all-in-one’ platforms make it easier for locals to interact and participate in a shared economy, improving the overall sustainability of the local business community.” Halbeg won the $2,000 third-place prize.
The Next Big Idea competition is an annual event where teams of students combine skills related to their individual majors to create innovative products, technology or businesses. Teams work with mentors on their projects and compete before judges for cash prizes. This year marks the eighth anniversary of the competition.