The Smart Puck
The First And Only Smart Hockey Merch
The Smart Puck
The First And Only Smart Hockey Merch
The Smart Puck is the only piece of hockey merch that automatically tracks your team’s stats. Connect it to your WiFi, charge it up, and it will update with your team’s latest stats after every game. It works with any of the existing NHL teams and will support new teams in the future (I see you Seattle fans).
After each game your puck will automatically update with the following information:
- Record as W-L-OTL
- Total points on the season
- Division rank
- Current streak info
- Result of their last game and who they played
- Day, time, and opponent for the next game
How Does It Work?
When you order a Smart Puck you select your favorite NHL team. Before the puck arrives at your doorstep the patent-pending StatFeedr™ technology that drives your puck is configured so it will start receiving stats as soon as it comes online.
All you have to do is plug it in to your computer or USB phone charger and follow the simple online instructions to get it connected to your Wi-Fi. The entire process usually takes less than 5 minutes. Once finished, the StatFeedr™ system will update your puck immediately and then again after every game your team plays.
The Smart Puck is for display purposes only.
The Smart Puck is extremely easy to set up via the online instructions. You can use your phone or computer and the process usually takes less than 5 minutes. The setup process provides simple, detailed instructions that walk you through the steps to get your puck connected.
The Smart Puck is able to track any of the existing 31 teams in the league and will automatically support expansion teams as they enter the league. Currently it will only track a single team at a time.
Having a rough season? Experiencing too much heartache with your current team? Well, too bad. Being a fan is hard sometimes and you have to stick with it. I don’t condone bandwagon fandom. However, in the interest of providing excellent customer service I will allow it. If you change your mind later about which team your puck should track it's an easy change. All you have to do is send in a support request and I'll change it for you in the system.
After your puck is configured it will automatically update after every game your team plays. There is no app to run or user involvement. It does not need to be paired to a phone or computer. It just works.
The Smart Puck is battery powered so it does not have to be plugged in all the time. Once fully charged and configured the puck will operate for at least half a season under normal conditions.
Great care was taken in the design process to make sure you don't have to constantly remember to charge it. Charge it once before the season starts and once during the All-Star break or your team's "bye week" and you'll be good to go.
The display on the Smart Puck is the same technology used in ebook readers so it's easy to read in any light condition and has ultra-wide viewing angles. It's extremely low power and is a major reason why the puck can last half a season on a single charge.
Works with most home networks supporting 802.11 b/g/n configurations. The puck is FCC, CE, and IC certified. Currently it only supports WPA and WPA2 networks. WPA Enterprise, WEP, and unsecured networks are not supported at this time. Captive portal networks are also not supported.
Updates to the StatFeedr™ technology are delivered automatically to your puck while it is charging so you'll get all future enhancements without having to do a thing.
The Perfect Gift
The Smart Puck is a must have for any fan. It's a completely new and one-of-a-kind collectible item that shows true team spirit. The Smart Pucks will ship before the holidays so you'll have the perfect gift for that special hockey fan in your life.
For Display Purposes Only
The Smart Puck is for display purposes only and should never be used for actual game play. Should you ignore this warning and do it anyway make sure the camera is rolling because it could get interesting. But seriously, the display is made of glass and the puck contains a lithium chemistry battery. You don’t want to deal with that mess.
Customizing Your Puck
If you decide to go with the Generic Blank Smart Puck there are plenty of ways to customize it.
The Smart Puck Story
I've been a Washington Capitals fan for as long as I can remember. Growing up I was fortunate enough to be able to attend a game with my parents and brother almost every season. I can still vividly remember the energy in the old Capitals Centre when the goal siren would go off. I remember Rod Langway flying around the ice with no helmet and, of course, the always entertaining crowd taunts of HEX-TAL! And also the heartache. Year after year after year of making the playoffs and going nowhere. Sometimes it's hard being a diehard fan.
When we weren't at the games my brother and I would hang out in the basement and watch the Caps play while eating cheap pizza and guzzling cans of Mountain Dew and Sunkist. Decades later these are still some of my most cherished childhood memories.
Fast forward a few decades to 2017 when I came across a popular Capitals blog post from the previous season announcing that fans who purchased a holiday ticket package would receive an Alex Ovechkin point tracking bobblehead. I freaked out! How awesome would it be to have a piece of team merch that actually tracked a player's points. And then the disappointment set in when I realized it was just a cheap mechanical counter that you had to adjust yourself after every game.
The disappointment quickly gave way to excitement as I realized that not only did I have the passion to create such a thing I also had almost all of the skills necessary to do so. In late 2017 the Smart Puck first came to life as a weekend maker project.
From the beginning I thought it would be amazing if I could fit everything into an actual hockey puck. Google "how to drill out a hockey puck" and you'll get mixed ideas on the best way to accomplish such a thing. Some insist the puck needs to be frozen, others say high RPM is the key. Lacking the proper tools I decided to just have at it with my Dremel. Things quickly went south as the rubber began to melt and my surgical hands failed me. Switching over to a chisel I was able to carve out a crude cavity.
With my puck "enclosure" ready to go I documented the creation of the very first hardware prototype on my YouTube channel.
The Smart Puck was never meant to be anything more than a fun hobby project. But then it sat there on my desk. I would look at it every day and think how cool it was and how maybe other hockey fans would find it cool too. Nothing like it existed so after a few months I decided I was going to be the one to make it; to get it into the hands of other fans.
A Year of Product Dev
I spent the entire year of 2018 going through the very steep learning curve of taking a maker project to production ready merchandise. Going through the process of multiple hardware runs and many firmware and software refactors helped me appreciate why so many hardware makers underestimate the amount of time it takes to release a product. I was originally hoping to have everything done in time for the start of the 2018-2019 hockey season but that dream was quickly squashed as I ran into one problem after another.
Here are just a few of the things I encountered along the way to get the Smart Puck where it is today.
Design Work: Soldering together parts and stuffing them in a chiseled out puck is one thing. Getting that into a package that's ready for consumers is an entirely different story and something I had never done. I gained a new appreciation for the term "Design for Manufacturing". I worked with a great company that did the PCB design as well as the mechanical design for the Smart Puck enclosure.
Display Firmware Issues: Working with epaper displays turned out to be nontrivial and I spent several weeks debugging an issue that would cause the display to show garbage when it updated.
Puck Sourcing: From the beginning I knew the puck had to be real despite many people telling me it would not be cost effective. Holding a plastic molded case that looks like a puck just isn't the same. I also decided it would be good to offer a lower-cost blank puck option. I thought getting plain hockey pucks would be simple. Wrong! I sourced hockey pucks from 7 vendors spanning 4 countries trying to find just the right pucks. In the process I found that some are not regulation size despite being advertised as such. A puck that is even a couple of millimeters too small in diameter will not machine properly. One batch smelled like old ash trays. My personal favorite was the batch that had an exaggerated conical shape. If you stacked them on top of each other you could see daylight between them.
Battery Sourcing: Getting the right battery was extremely important. It had to be small enough to fit inside the puck but have enough capacity to last more than a couple of weeks. This was my first hard lesson in QA. Always QA your supply chain. I had several batteries that looked perfectly normal only to discover the leads were not properly attached. I learned this after trying to debug a "firmware issue" causing the puck to magically reboot every few minutes. Now I mechanically test the leads on every single battery before installing them in a Smart Puck.
Hardware Revisions: After the second prototype run I decided to make some hardware changes to improve battery life. In doing so I reintroduced a display issue in the next batch of prototypes. Since it was caused by hardware I had to do yet another prototype run.
Fabrication and Assembly Issues: There are thousands of assembly houses around the world that will create the printed circuit board for your product and populate it with components. Before I ordered a full production run from my assembly house of choice I requested a test run of 10 boards to verify quality. Two of the ten pucks wouldn't even turn on and another two had unacceptable quality issues. As a result I not only had to find another assembly house but I had to do another test run to verify quality with the new vendor.
Puck Machining: For the final product I decided that my chisel work wasn't quite good enough (or fast enough) to pass final inspection. So how do you hollow out a hockey puck so you can put electronics inside? Great question. Even better is the face you get from a machine shop owner when you ask if they can help you with that.
Ready For Production
After a year of iterations and improvement the pucks were ready for an initial pilot run of 100 units.
After sourcing everything for the pilot run I realized that the upfront cost of producing even just 100 units was prohibitive going forward. My vision for the Smart Puck is to get it into the hands of as many fans as possible. With the Kickstarter model I know ahead of time how many Smart Pucks I need to make and will have the capital to make it happen.
If you're a diehard hockey fan like me, I know you'll love the Smart Puck. Once you see it and actually hold it I know you'll agree that it's a pretty cool piece of hockey merch. Thanks so much for backing the project and I can't wait for you to get your hands on one.
Risks and challenges
I've put a lot of time, effort, and money in to reduce the risks to backers. The risks and challenges for the Smart Puck depend on how successful the campaign is. I have everything I need to assemble and ship 100 pucks so at that quantity there is no risk.
If the campaign quantity is between 100 and 500 pucks the risks are very well defined. Unlike many other hardware projects on Kickstarter I have already defined my distribution channels and have no prototyping iterations left to complete. The product is ready to go. The risks are on the supply side of things. For instance, there is currently a global MLCC component shortage which means acquisition of parts may take longer than expected depending on how demand looks at the end of the campaign. The biggest risk, however, at this quantity is epaper display inventory. To mitigate this I am in constant contact with the distributor and keep an eye on inventory levels and can lock in an order as soon as necessary even while the campaign is still running.
Beyond 500 units assembly will be a challenge. Currently the pucks are hand-assembled so turn around time at this quantity will be longer. The same component and epaper risks apply as mentioned before. Another risk at this quantity is licensed puck availability. While I have access to many distributors there could be a shortage of certain team pucks given the time of year with the Stanley Cup playoffs in action.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (46 days)