A 13-year-old from Southington is the winner of a top prize at the National Invention Convention that took place in Washington D.C.
Lucca Riccio, an eighth grader at Joseph DePaolo Middle School, won the “Most Marketable Product” award.
He invented a “Message Mask,” which is an oxygen mask that uses Bluetooth noise canceling technology to allow patients who wear the mask to speak loudly and clearly and be understood by their family members and healthcare providers.
"So when you talk into it and it sounds muffled and everything and then you turn on the microphone and everything's a lot clearer and the noise is a lot louder,” Riccio said.
He said his grandma Ruth was the inspiration for the device.
"Last March, when the doctor told her it was her last day, the whole family tried to cram in the room and talk to her,” Riccio said. “She was trying to talk to my dad and his brothers and sisters and me and my brothers and sisters and no one could understand her.”
The mask took top prize, beating out more than 260 competitors from 15 states.
Riccio is proud of the award, but he said he will be even prouder if it winds up actually helping people.
"I want every single hospital, not even in the U.S., but the whole world to have this so that every single patient can enjoy a rehabilitative end of life experience,” Riccio said, adding that he believes his grandmother would be proud to know her experience may end up helping others.
Riccio is working with a non-profit organization to gain funding to put together a better prototype and he hopes to bring the Message Mask to market one day.
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