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'Sonic Dunk' Revolutionizes Basketball for Low Vision, No Vision Athletes

Student team holds project

In the world of sports, inclusivity and accessibility are paramount principles that must be upheld at all levels. However, for individuals with low vision or no vision, participating in certain sports like basketball has posed significant challenges. But now, thanks to the efforts of the "Incredibots," a rookie Robotics Lego League team comprising six ISD students, the game has undergone a revolutionary transformation with the introduction of "Sonic Dunk" – a groundbreaking basketball kit specifically tailored for athletes with low vision or no vision.

Student team smile with miniature basketballs and hoop

The team includes Anya, a fifth grader from Clark Elementary; Rishi, a seventh grader from Pine Lake Middle School; Ayaan, a fifth grader from Creekside; Hridhaan, a sixth grader from Pine Lake; Ishika, an eighth grader from Pine Lake; and Ishan, a sixth grader from Pine Lake. The Incredibots have demonstrated remarkable creativity, compassion, and ingenuity in developing Sonic Dunk. Their collaborative effort has resulted in a basketball kit that not only addresses the unique needs of low vision and no vision athletes, but also revolutionizes the way the game is played.

At the core of Sonic Dunk lies an audible basketball hoop, a technological marvel that provides real-time auditory feedback. Equipped with sensors and speakers, the hoop emits distinctive sounds upon successful shots, enabling players to accurately gauge their aim. This auditory reinforcement adds a new dimension to the game, allowing athletes to immerse themselves fully in the excitement of competition without relying solely on visual cues.

Complementing the audible hoop are tactile floor and training mats that are designed to provide spatial orientation and guidance for players. These mats feature textured surfaces and markers, aiding athletes in navigating the court with confidence and precision.

Student team holds project

Unlike conventional basketballs, Sonic Dunk's ball will feature audible sensors, producing distinct sound when it moves and stops moving.  

"What inspired us to put the beeper in the ball was a visit in India with a National Level women’s blind soccer team where they shared their own struggles," explained Ishika, one of the members of the Incredibots team behind Sonic Dunk. "They really inspired us to put the beeper in the ball because one of their biggest challenges was when the soccer ball stopped rolling, they had to wait for someone to tell them where it is because they can’t find it on their own."

Student team doing their presentation

Pine Lake Principal Michelle Caponigro said “The Incredibots are a great example of the promise of student agency in learning. Their exciting work was a series of discoveries, sparked by their sense of community and their commitment to excellence. Pine Lake Middle School could not be prouder of these young people.” 

Student IncrediBots team next to competition table in front of their logo

For more information about Sonic Dunk and the remarkable work of the Incredibots team, visit their website or check out their journey on YouTube.

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