Watch out, Google Glasses. Students at Rochester Institute of Technology’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf (NTID) in New York have introduced a new way to see captions in movie theaters.

The idea was a winner in the NTID’s Next Big Idea competition, which awards a $5,000 prize to the first place idea. The competition, sponsored by ZVRS video relay service, encouraged students to create a product, technology, or business that would benefit the deaf and hard-of-hearing community

Each student team had 10 minutes to pitch its idea to the panel of judges, who were five ZVRS employees and among 60 NTID alums working for the Florida-based company.

First place and $5,000 was awarded to invisibleCAPTIONS, represented by students Samantha Braidi, of Vineland, NJ, Cory Behm, of Rochester, Daniel Moreno, of Miami, Fla, and Melissa Kielbus, of Fremont, Calif.

Their plan is to make glasses with lenses and a custom filter that would capture ultraviolet light. A movie projector would send out the UV light, but only those with the glasses would see the captions. The glasses would be a cheaper and more efficient alternative to options currently used in movie theaters, including large, unflattering, battery-operated heavy glasses that constantly need adjustment, they said.

“This could be revolutionary,” Behm told the judges. “It’s a whole new way deaf and hard-of-hearing people can access information.”

You can see their presentation here:


Second place and $3,000 was awarded to Team Champ: Amie Sankoh of Dallas, Ga; Robb Dooling of Omaha, Neb; and Michael Stewart of Alberta, Canada. Their product, Volta Tracker, will help locate lost hearing aids or cochlear implants. A small flashing device would be mounted on the item and using a GPS and an application on a Smart Phone, the device would start to flash or vibrate, making it easier to locate.

Third place and $2,000 was awarded to MotionSavvy, and students Wade Kellard of Cincinnati, Ohio, Ryan Hait-Campbell of Seattle, Wash, and Jordan Stemper, of Waukesha, Wis. MotionSavvy is intended to enable deaf and hard-of-hearing people to use sign language to activate new technology, just as Siri can react to a voice command.

“We feel hearing people have access to new technology, we want to bring that new technology to the deaf and hard-of-hearing community,” Stemper says.

New technology called Leap, available to the public in July, may be able to convert sign language to text and text to speech. The students already have samples of the product for testing and have been accepted in RIT’s E. Philip Saunders College of Business Summer Start-Up Program.

The fourth-place team was S.A.V.E.D., with students Pierce Hamilton, of Fairfield, Conn, Christopher Fenn of Pittsburgh, Pa, and Casey Jaeger of St Louis, Mo. Their idea is to have a dashboard device flash when the sound of a siren was detected to help deaf and hard-of-hearing drivers know when there’s an emergency vehicle near. They hope to have the device as a standard feature on all new vehicles by 2025.