SportVue, an independent tech startup focused on sports equipment, has launched a new product called HockeyVue, which trains players to remain focused on the puck and game action.
A small device that hockey players hook onto their helmet, the HockeyVue will sense when a player is looking down or distracted and flash a soft light in their peripheral vision to signal them to look up and focus on their surroundings.
"There's a lot of places the player needs to be aware of -- the puck, their own body, their teammates and their opponents," said Pedro Pachuca, one of the founders of SportVue. "The only way they're able to be aware of all these things is by looking up."
Pachuca, a 19-year-old Amador Valley High School alumnus and current student at UC Berkeley studying electrical engineering, computer science and business administration, is leading the project alongside co-founder James Li.
The inspiration behind SportVue comes from Pachuca's own stumbling blocks while playing soccer growing up with the Ballistic United Soccer Club.
"Whenever I played the game, one thing that really stopped me from getting better was, one of the reasons I got injured, was because I wasn't looking up," he said. "That was my issue in soccer and was one of the reasons I was hit really hard because I wasn't aware of my surroundings. And so, we set out to solve this problem."
SportVue's founders decided to focus their product on hockey due to Li's familiarity with the sport, alongside a consistent understanding of the sport among the entire team.
"For hockey, it's a contact sport, so players can get hit really hard, which causes concussions," Pachuca said. "That's when the biggest hits happen, when players are just not aware of their surroundings."
The HockeyVue not only trains players to be aware of their surroundings, but it prevents future concussions from happening, according to Pachuca.
"One of the biggest reasons we created this product was so players can get better and stay on the ice. If a player is injured, they're out for the season." Pachuca said.
Li, also now a student at UC Berkeley, had Division I college hockey aspirations that were eventually dashed in part because he had trouble keeping his head up during the game, according to Hriday Sheth, a member of the SportVue team.
"Instead of being upset about it, Pedro and James decided to fix the underlying issue and help other youth athletes, leading to the creation of SportVue," Sheth said.
Sheth, a 15-year-old from Livermore, and fellow Granada High School student Daniel Thinfen, 16, have also joined in on the project.
"Daniel and I have known Pedro for several years due to regional cybersecurity competitions," Sheth said. "One day on LinkedIn, I saw that Pedro was creating a new startup. Because I am interested in entrepreneurship, I asked Pedro if I could join the SportVue team, and he said yes."
The journey to HockeyVue hasn't always been easy.
After the founders devoted two months to the project, they kept running into problems with creating HockeyVue. Instead of giving up, Pachuca said they changed lanes and kept going. Pachuca and Li decided to take HockeyVue to an embedded systems conference in Germany to find solutions for technical problems with the product. After that trip, they were able to create HockeyVue.
What is in store for the future of SportVue is kept secret for now, but the company is looking into another product -- which is currently in research and development. For now, HockeyVue is up for pre-order on the SportVue website.