While working at Burger King, 17-year-old Ryan Patterson met a mute customer who had to spell out her order in American Sign Language and wait for her adult companion to translate it.
The inefficiency of it all struck the Grand Junction, Colo., science whiz as "awful," so he cooked up a computerized glove that translates American Sign Language finger gestures into ASCII text.
The glove won Patterson all three top honors at this years Intel International Science and Engineering Fair, including $216,000 in cash and scholarships. Patterson (who also built a robotic floor mop in second grade) has applied for a patent on his device and is seeking a manufacturer for it. Just raise your hand if you want in on a winning idea.