Students bring wearable technology to hockey

June 24, 2016

“He shoots, he scores!” may take on a new meaning for entrepreneurial Simon Fraser University students.

In 2017, a team of six students plans to launch a product called the Game7 Shooting System, wearable technology that introduces a new way to track hockey metrics. Using smart technology, Game7 supports the development of hockey skills with equipment that includes a player wristband and a net attachment with smart sensors. It reports analytics on the four major hockey shots: slap shot, snap shot, wrist shot and backhand.

“Whereas technology has revolutionized training in other sports, the adoption of it in hockey has lagged behind,” says Ameer Ismail, a mechatronics systems engineering and Beedie business student. “Game7 aims to give players a competitive advantage by providing the player with measurable results, enabling them to identify specific areas of improvement.”

Ismail and his group are enrolled in the Technology Entrepreneurship@SFU program, where mechatronic systems engineering students team up with business students during their final two years at SFU. The program supports those who want to start their own tech business upon graduation by providing mentorship and a strong focus on product development, market research and business planning.

Ismail’s group, Vamo Tech, is a sports technology start-up with its sights on a product launch early next year. Currently, Vamo Tech is working on finalizing their prototype. Upon completion this fall, the team will be beta testing and incorporating user feedback into the final product.

“VAMO and their Game 7 Shooting System is the perfect example of what happens when passion and technology intersect with entrepreneurial capabilities,” says Sarah Lubik, SFU’s director of entrepreneurship. “By marrying Canada’s favourite sport with wearable technology and creating an ambitious and actionable plan, this team has incredible potential to be a contender in this space.”

In addition, Vamo Tech won first place in the Most Innovative Technology category at the Opportunity Fest student entrepreneurship showcase in March, hosted by the Beedie School of Business. Vamo Tech team member Ben Hwang won Mr. Opportunity in the Technology category, for the most engaging student presenter. This year's event included innovators and entrepreneurs from across the university.

Vamo Tech adds multiple dimensions to a player’s training session by allowing them to look at their strengths and weaknesses during a certain shot, and to understand how their positioning affects them.

The Game7 system may be paired with a mobile app in future, also in development by Vamo Tech. This will give players access to real-time visual and numerical analytics on their shots. The app also has a division that can test a player’s skill so athletes can participate in preset shooting tests tailored to their training goals. Results can be compared over time with others.

The idea for Game7 came from the group members’ own experience playing the game: “Playing hockey as a kid, I remember spending countless hours in the garage shooting pucks at foam targets for practice,” says Ben Hwang. “Seeing products like Zepp and ShotTracker, I started thinking of how technology could help hockey players train smarter.”

The Vamo Tech team includes Ben Hwang (Beedie), Ameer Ismail (mechatronics and Beedie), Andriy Bortnik (mechatronics and Beedie), Yash Pachchigar (mechatronics), Osama Al-Humaimidi (mechatronics), and Malcolm Grahame (mechatronics).