As a 12-year-old boy, Lucca Riccio watched his grandmother struggle to communicate while being treated at the hospital.
“It was nearly impossible when she would try and talk through the oxygen mask,” he recalled. “It was so loud and it covered her mouth which made it really hard for her to talk.”
Determined, Riccio set out to find a solution. He began working on what he calls the “Tube Talker.” It amplifies a patient’s voice while using noise cancellation technology to eliminate the noise of an oxygen machine.
Riccio, now 17 and a Southington High School senior, has garnered such acclaim for his invention he won awards at the Connecticut Invention Convention, National Invention Convention and also received $22,000 from CTNext, which supports Connecticut startups.
Most recently Riccio was invited to the Youth Start European Entrepreneur Award Competition in Barcelona, Spain where the Tube Talker was recognized as Best In Show. That honor brings an all-expenses paid trip to the Peter Drucker Forum in Vienna, Austria next November.
Riccio was not alone in his endeavors. Much of his support was found in his Southington High School classroom, where Business teacher, Sandy Spinello advises him through an independent study. Spinello prepped Riccio for his Barcelona presentation and recommended he use his grandmother’s inspiration.
“To be so moved by that experience to then go out and actually do something about it and bring it to this level, I think is pretty amazing,” said Spinello.
With a patent pending, the next step for the Tube Talker is testing, which Lucca says will soon be done at Bristol Hospital.
“They have already agreed to test the product and see how doctors and patients respond to it,” said Riccio.
Meanwhile, investors have taken notice and Lucca is hopeful the Tube Talker could go to market soon.