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This teenager's e-whistle is helping deaf athletes ace their race


13-year-old Kate McIntosh from New Zealand has created something innovative and helpful for thousands of deaf athletes across the world. Its an e-whistle and its the latest excitement in the accessible technology space.

Kate got the brainwave when her friend and teammate, who is hearing impaired, lost her spot in a water polo game because she did not hear the referee’s whistle.

Kate started thinking about how many deaf athletes would be losing out on the opportunity to do their best in sporting events for the same reason. She began working on ways to develop an e-whistle that would help them beat this problem.

The e-whistle is worn like a regular whistle, except that it has a transmitter. So, when anyone blows the whistle, currents are sent to the transmitter and these are received by the user.

The user is alerted by the vibration and LED lights. So essentially, it's all about light and vibrations, instead of sound. The e-whistle can be worn like a watch so the hearing device is not made too obvious!

Kate's next mission is to get the patent rights to her e-whistle. She is also working on ways to make it compact and user friendly for deaf athletes.

Kate is gearing up to showcase her e-whistle at science events across New Zealand. She aims to become a teacher in electronics and this is hopefully just the first of many such accessible innovations we will see from this young woman.

This is the second innovation for deaf athletes to hit the headlines. Just recently, another teenager, this time from the United States, developed a bracelet that can replace or supplement the whistle and the starter gun in some sports events.

This will be of relevance in games like soccer and basketball where the whistle is of importance when referees make the calls.

The bracelet, developed by Celia Beron sends out instant light and vibration signals whenever the whistle sounds or the gun is fired. This makes the wearer aware and react accordingly.

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