The Next Big Idea™

The Next Big Idea™ is an annual innovation competition at NTID sponsored by ZVRS.

Teams of deaf and hard-of-hearing students worked together to create a product, business, service or type of technology that solves a problem or eliminates an existing challenge for potential consumers and/or users everywhere.

Upcoming Events

The Next Big Idea will return in spring of 2023! Please check back periodically as we continue to update this page with our 2023 schedule.

We are also offering a high school version of the Next Big Idea! Find more information about the Next Big Idea: High School here.

General Rules and Guidelines

  1. The competition is open to all RIT/NTID-supported students* who are full-time matriculated students or graduate students and who are registered for classes during the 2019-2020 academic year. Entrants can have no academic, judicial or financial holds. *Interpreting and MSSE students also are eligible to enter.
  2. Teams should create a product, service or type of technology that can benefit anyone, anywhere.
  3. Teams consist of 2 - 5 students enrolled in at least two different disciplines (business, engineering, etc./departments)
  4. All submissions, sales pitches and review of prototypes will be reviewed by a panel of four RIT/NTID faculty/staff judges who will ensure that the work meets the competition criteria and who will determine the winners.
  5. Teams must adhere to deadlines. Failure to do so will disqualify the team from competition.
  6. At least two out of five team members are required to attend review meetings. Failure to do so will disqualify the team from competition.
  7. Teams may be required to meet certain project milestones along the way (i.e. complete business concept; complete marketing concept; develop sneak peek video, etc.).
  8. Submissions must be the original work of the contestants and must not be in violation of copyright laws.
  9. Submissions should not include racial slurs, sexist remarks, profanity or other inappropriate content.

First Round Presentation

  • Create a business plan using slide presentations (PowerPoint, Google Slides, Keynote, or Prezi) to explain your idea. All presentations have a time limit of 3 minutes.
  • Answer the following questions in your presentation:
    • What is the product or service?
    • What is the goal of this product or service? 
      • Introduction of the idea
    • What problem does your product or service idea solve?
    • Who is your target audience?
    • Use a survey to collect feedback about your idea
      • What data did you collect?
      • Ask family, friends, followers on social media.
      • Your goal is to prove that your idea is useful and marketable.
  • Share your presentation link by February 19, 2021 
    • Ensure your presentation is only viewable by those who have the link.

2020 Competition Results

2019 Competition Results

The 2019 winners were selected by a team of judges from ZVRS, the competition sponsor, during the Next Big Idea final round on Thursday, March 28, 2019.

Diwa Tech --- 1st Place, $5,000

DiwaTech was comprised of members Daniel Cox, a 5th year Human Centered Computing major from Fresno CA, Chad Cummings, a 6th year Human Centered Computing major from Austin TX, and Anthony DiGiovanni, a 5th year Web & Mobile Computing major from Rochester NY.   

Team Idea: The idea we are proposing is related to video game accessibility, by applying an user interface design solution along with new technologies such as voice recognition API's to create a new software product that allows visualized sound data to represent audio output for video games. The prototype will be a software that picks up sound data from any game, and convert sound into visual data. The visual data will be displayed in an user interface app to allow deaf gamers to access awareness in the game environment. Our vision is to bring accessibility awareness to the video game industry and to develop accessibility standards for video games, we believe this will benefit deaf gamers worldwide.

Thinking Hands  ---2nd Place, $3,000

Thinking Hands members included Karina Baker, a 4th year Sociology & Anthropology major from Los Angeles CA, Moises Tobias, a 3rd year Design & Imaging major from Los Angeles CA, Alina Kenina, a 3rd year Exercise Science major from Clarksburg MD, and Gabriel Veit, a 2nd year New Media Interactive Development major from Austin TX.

Team Idea: Thinking Hands is an online educational platform with the aim to provide academic support for Deaf and Hard of Hearing students, through developing interactive educational videos taught in ASL.

HALBEG --- 3rd Place, $2,000

HALBEG members included Bakar Ali, a 2nd year MBA student from Somalia, Eric Epstein, a 6th year Software Engineering major from Tucson AZ, and Tyler Anderson, a 4th year Journalism major from Las Vegas NV.

Team Idea: Halbeg Technologies makes ‘all-in-one’ private networking platforms for businesses, such as universities, who want to improve the interaction within their communities. Halbeg ‘all-in-one’ Technologies offer a simple way for members within a community to share resources. It enables community members to post requests, offer jobs, trade or barter, carpool or rideshare, and chat about local issues that impact their community, on one simple to use platform. Halbeg Technologies are hosted by the businesses, which allows for our system to be a more private and secure way for businesses to use social media. Our ‘all-in-one’ platforms make it easier for locals to interact and participate in a shared economy, thereby improving the overall sustainability of the local business community.

2018 Competition Results

Photo showing First Place Team: Small World That ;  Sarah Stanislow, Lauren Putz, Rachel Soudakoff and Priyanka Patil

1st Place
Team: Small World That
Sarah Stanislow, Lauren Putz, Rachel Soudakoff and Priyanka Patil

Photo showing Second Place Team: Vee TV;  Andrew Cho,  Vincent Venutolo and Sami Williamson

2nd Place
Team: Vee TV
Andrew Cho, Vincent Venutolo and Sami Williamson

Photo showing Third Place: Team Body Easy; Tony Nguyen, John Huang and Evans Seraphim

3rd Place
Team: Body Easy
Tony Nguyen, John Huang and Evans Seraphim

Competition Photos

Check out photos from the competition. Click right side of the photo below to advance through slideshow.

Previous Winners

2018 Winning Teams
  • 1st Place: Small World That
  • 2nd Place: Vee TV
  • 3rd Place: Body Easy
2017 Winning Teams
  • 1st Place: BAGMAG
  • 2nd Place: ASL Storyteller
  • 3rd Place: Expect Zone
2016 Winning Teams
  • 1st Place: Ugyo
  • 2nd Place: Dalmation
  • 3rd Place: ANOVA
2015 Winning Teams
  • 1st Place: Hz Innovations
  • 2nd Place: Imhotep II
  • 3rd Place: 3015

More about the winning teams from 2015.

2014 Winning Teams
  • 1st Place: Cenify
  • 2nd Place: Code Zero
  • 3rd Place: DeafVengers

More about the winning teams from 2014.

2013 Winning Teams
  • 1st Place: invisibleCAPTIONS
  • 2nd Place: Team Champ
  • 3rd Place: MotionSavvy

More about the winning teams from 2013.

2012 Winning Teams
  • 1st Place: V-Sports
  • 2nd Place: Get Dancin'
  • 3rd Place: WaterSocket

More about the winning teams from 2012.