Brocade’s Most Marketable Product Award

June 1, 2016

Top NICEE 2016 Honors for “The Message Mask”

In a world where many inventions sit on launch pads too long or forever, you can’t overstate the value of marketability. It’s no surprise that developing a marketing plan is a core element of the innovation process whether you’re a kid creator or work in corporate America.

With all this in mind, those who created the first-of-its-kind National Invention Convention and Entrepreneurship Expo (NICEE) set Most Marketable Product, which was sponsored by Brocade Communications Systems, as the event’s top honor. Chief Marketing Officer Christine Heckart was on-hand to present the award to Lucca Riccio, an 8th grader from Southington, CT., for his “Message Mask.”


Lucca Riccio from Southington CT demonstrating his Message Mask

The invention is a Bluetooth-enabled noise-canceling CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) medical device that helps patients communicate clearly with loved ones on hand ore located remotely while receiving oxygen through the mask.

The Message Mask won the Most Marketable Product, beating out more than 260 entries from competitors representing 15 states across the United States.

The “Why”

The purpose of the Message Mask is to allow people wearing an oxygen mask to be able to verbally communicate with others in person and on devices such as a cell phone via Bluetooth technology. This invention improves end of life and/or rehabilitative experiences for patients, their doctors, and their loved ones.

The How

The Message Mask pairs a noise canceling microphone with a Bluetooth speaker so patients with an oxygen face mask can communicate with their doctors and family members. It also pairs the same microphone with a cellphone so that patients can communicate with loved ones who can’t be physically present.

Lucca’s Story

Riccio’s Message Mask solves a key problem for patients using oxygen masks: having a hard time being understood due to the noise of the oxygen flow and mouth-covering plastic cover. Riccio thought of the idea when in the Emergency Room with his grandmother, as his uncle rushed cross-country to her bedside.


Chief Marketing Officer Christine Heckart with Lucca

“He wanted to talk to her, he was scared he would not make it there in time. But the phone could not pick up her voice over the noise of the machinery in the room, and I could not understand her through the muffled mask to tell him what she was saying,” says Riccio. “My Bluetooth-enabled noise canceling microphone would have picked up her voice and relayed it to the smartphone as well as to a local speaker, so everyone could hear.”

“All of the products that we evaluated for the Most Marketable Product award were so incredible, and the inventors so poised and prepared,” says Brocade’s Heckart. “What made the Message Mask stand out was its ability to impact a large a group of people worldwide. This innovation could be used in homes and hospitals worldwide, helping patients, staff and families communicate with loved ones at a critical time in their lives.”

Riccio has filed for patent protection with the United States Patent and Trademark Office for his invention, and is working to commercialize his product into the market this year.

Thanks to Brocade Communications Systems for your support from everyone at NICEE 2016!

Oct 2016 Update:  Lucca is pursuing his invention and has filed for patent protection with the USPTO.  He pitched for and won a $10,000 grant from the State of Connecticut’s CTNext EIA Awards, and also won $2,000 Judge’s Favorite award at the same event.  He is securing seed funding and hopes to be in the market with a final product within the next year!

NICEE 2016 was made possible by the generous contributions of United Technologies, Corp., Stanley Black & Decker, Brocade Communications Systems, and The Lemelson Foundation.



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