Tuesday, November 15, 2011

RIT/NTID Students Develop Vibration Notification for Deaf Athletes


Jeremiah Thompson, Tyler Swob, Shane Qualls, Michael Della Penna and Ken Hertzog. Photo by Mark Benjamin, NTID.

A group of RIT/NTID students recently won second place and a $1,250 check in the Shark Tank competition at RIT for their project, V-Sports, a device designed to facilitate communication via vibration notification for deaf and hard-of-hearing athletes.

Members of the team are Jeremiah Thompson, a business administration major from Olathe, Kan., Tyler Swob, an applied mathematics major from Escondido, Calif., Shane Qualls, an engineering technology major from Olathe and Michael Della Penna, an accounting technology major from Tampa Bay, Fla. Ken Hertzog, a hearing student who is a computer engineering major from Henrietta, N.Y., serves as product developer with the team.

The four RIT/NTID students, with Hertzog, who developed V-Sports as part of his co-op job at NTID’s Center on Access Technology Innovation Lab, came up with the idea of a vibration notification system – a wristband or device placed elsewhere – based on some of their experience playing sports. They say miscommunication is common in deaf sports and can lead to aggression, extended plays, inequality with hearing players, confusion and false starts.

They entered the fourth Shark Tank competition at The Albert J. Simone Center for Entrepreneurship at RIT, a contest designed to provide winners prize money to help develop their products.

There were approximately 50 teams and only five teams were called back to give a formal pitch to a panel of judges.

“The judges were surprised to find that there is no other product like it out there,” Swob says.

The team has tested a receiver attachment that can be worn on any part of the body and connected wirelessly to one or two transmitters. One transmitter is known as the whistle and is designed for referees, although coaches can use it for practices. The second transmitter would be wirelessly connected to the coach’s smartphone that would be running a software application that sends a Bluetooth signal to receivers to make them vibrate.

The team says they hope to market their product to schools. A prototype was tested recently at Rochester School for the Deaf, and the feedback was “quite positive and encouraging,” Swob said.

He said the team will use their prize for marketing and product development.


RIT/NTID Students Develop Vibration Notification for Deaf Athletes
Fri, 11 Nov 2011 21:29:15 GMT

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