Enkoa has developed "OLIMPO" technology device that supports hearing impaired people in races. The solution has been developed by ENKOA in collaboration with Tecnalia technology center, The adapted Sport Federation of Gipuzkoa and in cooperation with Valentin Rocandio ( trainer and professor at the UPV/EHU university) and Casimiro Ondo ( deaf athlete).
This solution has been awarded with the Innovation prize given every two years by the European Athletics association, in the category of " Technology", in which several technological, scientific, educational organization across 21 countries have taken part. The aim of these awards given by the European Athletics association, which are given since 1998, is promoting the investigation, study and generation of new ideas for developing the athletics.
The project is originated from the difficulties faced by hearing impaired people when taking part in open races (when competing with non-handicapped people). The hearing impaired athlete notices the starting shoot by the vibration motions generated on the ground by the starting shoot, the visual observation of the explosion in the air or the support of the trainer, who once hears the starting shoot, touches the back of the athlete thus informing that he/she must start. As a consequence the reaction time when starting the race is longer, what results in a disadvantage when competing against non-handicapped athletes.
The developed system consists of devices interlinked with a wireless communication in that way helping the athlete to have a similar reaction time to the competitors. Thus, when the referee fires the starting shoot, the hearing impaired athletes are informed automatically through visual devices (red/green) placed in front of each athlete (see picture). Besides, the starting shoot and the false starts (identified by two simultaneous shoots) are detected and the athlete is warned by visual or vibratory interfaces.
In order to carry out this project we count on the Spanish Sport Federation for Blind Athletes, the Spanish Athletics Federation, as well as ONCE collaboration. Likewise, the solution has been tested in the Spanish Championship of Adapted Sport (in Basauri), in Poland at the Junior European championship, by the German Deaf Athlete Federation,... with very appealing results, in which the majority of the participants using the system were able to improve their records. During those events many hearing impaired athletes, trainers showed great interest in it.