The Next Big Idea

Design majors from the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) National Technical Institute for the Deaf (NTID) are among the competitors in The Next Big Idea 2017. Top prize of $5,000 went to BAGMAG, designed by Hans Kohls, industrial design major, and Wade Kellard, mechanical engineering technology major. The hands-free solution makes a skateboard easier to attach to a backpack.  A strong magnet inserted into the backpack connects to a strolng magnet affixed to the bottom of the skateboard and eliminates the need to use straps of the backpack to secure the skateboard. 

Another team that entered included industrial design major Mohd Afifi Ishak, along with Tobin Zolkowski, communication and criminal justice major; Iswor Ghimire, global computing student; and Jose Lopez, applied computer technology student. The project, Vign, is a television program service that streams content in sign language.

“We have seen some amazing products and services start in this competition and move into production,” says Gerry Buckley, RIT vice president and dean, and NTID president. 

Second place of $3,000 was awarded to ASL Storyteller, developed by Julie Love, graphic design major and Logan Lugo, international business student. The interactive mobile app offers sign language to babies, both hearing and deaf, to help with language development and creates a richer environment for signing.

Expect Zone earned the third place prize of $2,000. Amelia Hamilton, new media marketing major and Tanner Ketchum, accounting technology major, came up with the rearview mirror with three flashing lights that alerts deaf or hard-of-hearing drivers when an ambulance, police cruiser or fire engine aproach.