Canadian college students create audible puck for visually impaired players (Video)

Leave it the only two Canadians in the nation who have little interest in hockey to design something meant to improve the game – an audible puck.

This isn’t a puck that’s going to eventually make it to the NHL. It’s meant for use in the game for players who are visually impaired, like those who participate in Courage Canada Hockey for the Blind camps.

(Yes, hockey for the visually impaired! And you thought hockey was tough with full use of your eyes.)

Sheridan College students Ryan Viera and Kristoffer Pascual are finalists in the IAM3D Challenge for their improvement upon the current iterations of the audible puck. 

Naturally, the design isn’t as easy as adding a noisemaker, electronic or otherwise, to a regular puck. As Matt Morrow, executive director with Courage Canada, explained to The Canadian Press:

The finished product needs to be both bigger and slower than a standard-issue puck, Morrow said, so that players with a variety of different vision levels can play. Materials also need to be pliable in order to minimize injuries, while still being durable enough to withstand blistering passes and hard impact with boards and goal posts.

That doesn’t even begin to address the sound issue. 

Hockey has all kinds of noises that do and don’t involve the puck itself. The challenge for the audible puck is to be able to separate the sound the puck emits from from everything else and elevate it to where it’s constant. The design has to factor in volume as well as the unique acoustics on the ice.

Once again, the Canadian Press:

“We’re trying to go for a piercing noise that you can hear through the normal play instead of just trying to compete with volume,” [designer Ryan Viera] said. “To compete with volume, you’ll just never be able to pack enough power into the puck to project enough noise to be louder than a normal game and still keep the puck below weight.”

The final product, produced in the 3D printing lab at Sheridan, consists of nylon top and bottom inserts surrounded by aluminum casing. The internal buzzers emit tones that Vieira likens to the sound of an alarm clock, and are powered by a nine-volt battery.

With a diameter of 14 centimeters, a height of five centimeters and a total weight of about 600 grams, the Sheridan design comes close to what Courage Canada describes as the ideal dimensions for a puck for the blind.

Take a look (and a listen) at the puck in action:

The IAM3D winner will be announced this coming weekend in Boston.

No word on if the young men have any interest in creating a puck that tells officials when it fully crosses the goal line…

Stick-tap Michelle McQuigge