(Steve Vezeau photo)

Montreal researchers create audible hockey puck for visually impaired players

Three years ago, Gilles Ouellet came up with the idea for a puck that makes a continuous sound

A team of Montreal university researchers has developed an audible hockey puck they say could revolutionize the sport for blind players.

For years, visually impaired hockey players have used a tomato juice can or a steel container filled with small balls as a puck.

The improvised devices work, but players have trouble finding them on the ice when they stop moving and become silent.

Three years ago, Gilles Ouellet, a blind hockey player and employee of Universite de Quebec a Montreal (UQAM), came up with the idea for a puck that makes a continuous sound.

Now, he and a team of researchers have created a prototype consisting of a shock-absorbent plastic shell with a battery-powered circuit board inside.

A series of sensors analyzes puck movement and transmits the data to a buzzer, which can be adjusted to a maximum level of 120 decibels — about equivalent to a chainsaw or a thunderclap.

“It’s going to make the game faster and more interesting,” Ouellet said. “And because the puck makes noise when it’s in the air, it’ll help goalies make more saves.”

Steve Vezeau, one of the researchers behind the project, said the team initially thought it would take six months to develop — but then they realized how hostile the hockey environment can be.

“There is the question of impact, but also the cold and humidity,” said Vezeau.

Players went through up to five tomato juice boxes per game, while the steel can lasted about two games. Vezeau said the sonorous puck has a lifespan of about three games.

“And obviously, getting a steel puck in the head hurts,” he added.

Vezeau and Ouellet are hoping the puck, known as BIPeR, helps to increase the sport’s popularity. There are about 400 people in North America who play in so-called blind hockey leagues.

Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver have clubs, and about 12 teams have formed in the United States over the past few years. Ultimately, players are looking for their game to be included in the Paralympics.

“The United States wants to organize a nations cup next May,” Ouellet said. “There is already a team in Finland and players all over Europe. When we have an efficient puck we can export it and it could increase the sport’s popularity and help to standardize the game.”

The next step is to find a partner that could help the research team scale their product. The prototype was financed in part by USA Hockey.

Jean-Benoit Legault, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

‘We think the democratic process is eroding’: Czech family visit Revelstoke promoting new voting method

In the Janeček voting method, voters can cast both positive and negative multiple votes

Revelstoke RCMP seize $1.9 million from ‘erratic’ driver

The driver and passenger were detained under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act

Liberals’ Kootenay-Columbia candidate stands by Trudeau despite scandal

Robin Goldsbury says the prime minister’s racist photo is a learning opportunity

Revelstoke athletes bring home 16 medals from 55+ BC Senior Games

The event took place in Kelowna Sept. 10-14

Maggie ‘May’ Davis’ CD release concert next week in Revelstoke

Davis had the most attended concert at Street Fest this summer

Bears roaming around Okanagan school, busy neighbourhood

Cubs spotted near elementary school, large bear seen at park

21 years: Grand Chief Stewart Philip to continue leading B.C. Indian Chiefs union

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip acclaimed as president of Union of BC Indian Chiefs

Autopsy results lead to new murder charges for two men near Williams Lake

Accused also face one count each of attempted murder in connection with Rudy Johnson Bridge incident

B.C. MLA’s former constituency assistant charged with fraud, breach of trust

Charges announced Sept. 19 more than two years after Martin fired Desmond Devnich for alleged thefts

B.C. salmon farm inspection deal reached with Indigenous people

Monitoring to determine if any Broughton region farms stay open

Vehicle thefts prompt plea from Salmon Arm RCMP

Public asked to help by removing valuables and keys, locking vehicles up

LETTER: Democracy concerns must be addressed

Critical issues keep some from voting

RCMP seize $1.9 million in B.C. traffic stop

The driver and passenger were detained under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act

Salmon Arm theatre reduces barriers with inclusive opening of Wizard of Oz

Relaxed conventions opens experience to people with autism, dementia, sensory disorders

Most Read