Two Ontario college students have designed what could be a total game-changer for the visually impaired.
They’ve created an audible hockey puck – and one that actually works.
After three redesigns in the last five months, the Sheridan College classmates say that their puck is like none that have come before. Noisemaking pucks have been experimented with for decades, but until now, one has not been designed that functions well on the ice, thanks to the acoustics of the arena and the temperature of the ice.
People are already starting to take notice.
Ryan Vieira and Kristoffer Pascual were just awarded first place in the re-engineered products category at the IAM3D Challenge in Boston.
The requirements for a practical puck for the visually impaired go beyond the sound factor. It needs to be bigger and slower than a traditional puck so that players with a variety of vision levels can play, as Matt Morrow, executive director with Courage Canada, told The Canadian Press.
He says the materials need to be pliable in order to minimize injuries, but durable enough for the nature of the game.
While different models of creatively designed electronic pucks have come and gone for years, none have really proved effective. The main issues are the complex acoustics of the arena and the reflection of noise, which make it difficult to pinpoint the exact location of the puck.
Not to mention, the game – and the arena – is full of other sounds that used to drown out the sound of the puck.
That’s why the creators were going for a piercing noise that could trump all the competing sounds.
Vieira and Pascual went through two prototypes before settling on the current design. The previous designs had issues with the strength of the plastic once it was exposed to the ice, had circuit boards that fell apart upon contact with a stick, or featured speakers that misdirected the sounds, according to The Canadian Press.
The final product was produced in a 3D printing lab at Sheridan.
It consists of nylon top and bottom inserts surrounded by aluminum casing, with a diameter of 14 centimetres and a height of five centimetres. The internal buzzers can apparently rival those of an alarm clock.
The true test, of course, is how well it fares in the good old hockey game compared to those that have come before.