Welcome back to the Project Playtime blog. This week we will begin a series of team spotlights; first up, Focus on Futbol! The Focus on Futbol team includes eight dedicated and enthusiastic employees from multiple locations and groups throughout the Massachusetts area. Inspired by the mission of Project Playtime, they have come together over the last few months to implement an exciting ADI solution for individuals with disabilities.

Since Project Playtime is rooted in engaging with the community, this Massachusetts team’s first goal was to identify a partner organization that combined a focus on recreational activities with making those activities accessible to individuals with disabilities. Many Boston-area organizations do great work for this community, but Newton Athletes Unlimited (NAU) quickly rose to the top as the perfect fit for Project Playtime. Founded by parents and catering to people of all ages, NAU provides recreational programs for individuals with disabilities in the greater Newton area. They focus not only on the physical health and development of their participants, but on social, emotional, and intellectual growth to encourage independence and improve quality of life. Learn more about the organization and their impact by watching this short video.

At the Innovating with Impact Workshop kickoff event in Wilmington last November, NAU board member Betsy DiSciullo came to tell participants about the organization and the challenges they face in providing effective play for participants. One of the standout challenges was loss of focus, especially in their most popular sport, soccer. Participants often get distracted by what’s happening both on and off the field, and coaches must work to regain attention of the players as well as coach the game. From this challenge, the Focus on Futbol solution was proposed.

To facilitate focus retention for athletes during practices and games, the Focus on Futbol team is designing a soccer ball with panels that would illuminate different colors based on a custom controller with corresponding colored buttons that the coaches would operate.

Above Image: The LED soccer ball as it will perform as a finished product.

The prototype focuses on using an Arduino Uno as a microcontroller board, which sits inside a foam soccer ball and connects to a string of LEDs routed to the ends of the soccer ball. An ADI accelerometer (ADXL372) is also inside the foam soccer ball and connected to the Arduino to allow force information to capture athlete interaction with the ball. For full implementation of the prototype, the team has been in conversation with soccer ball manufacturers to determine a plan for the build once the prototype is complete.

Halved ball prototype showing Arduino Uno

Halved prototype showing Arduino Uno microcontroller board inside of foam soccer ball.

The main proposed functionality of the ball would include changing the ball’s color to indicate and provide instructions for players to take actions, such as blue = dribble, green = shoot, etc. Lighting up the ball for other reasons are being explored, and they could even be directly implemented by the coaches themselves for specific drills. This prototype also allows for the possibility of future educational STEM outreach in which students can learn to program the balls based on the needs of a given organization.

Currently, the team is optimizing various components of the prototype. The GUI display for the coach’s controller and a 3-D printed box to house the controller are under development as well as the software code for the RF wireless communication between the Arduino and the coach’s controller. Each of the hardware pieces of the design controlled by the Arduino have been tested out individually. The next steps of the project prototype are to fully integrate all the pieces together into the full system design.

Abby Reynolds and Laura Fegley engaging with the prototype.

Above image: LED Soccer Ball Prototype Design 

About the Team

Technical Team

Laura Fegley, Lead Technical Design

  • Role at ADI: I work in Advanced Development in the LiDAR group.
  • A bit about me: I am originally from Pennsylvania, near Philly (Last year’s Super Bowl was ridiculously fun. For me, I mean.) I studied abroad in Sendai, Japan and minored in Japanese, and the physical feat I most proud of is completing a Spartan Trifecta (Sprint, Super, and Beast completed in the same year).
  • What I want to get out of Project Playtime: I have really enjoyed this project as a way to learn more about system level project design at the hobbyist level. I also really want this project to be not just a way for a few ADI employees to provide a one-time solution for a single need, but to be a way for many communities to come together and understand each other’s perspectives. This is why I created Focus on Futbol to be a flexible, Arduino based project.
  • Favorite recreational activity: Ooh, this is hard! For me I think it is an even split between volleyball and bouldering.

 Sunita Panda

  • Role at ADI: I am a New Product Program Manager in the Central Operations team.
  • A bit about me: I am an unintentionally grumpy person and it takes projects like this one to cheer me up:-D. I am always up for learning something new and like to dance and read in my spare time.
  • What I want to get out of Project Playtime: I work mainly on the manufacturing operations side of ADI and my knowledge and exposure is limited to the manufacturing of ADI new products. In a project like this I get to see a new product life cycle from womb to tomb i.e from inception to end-result and that for me is a very refreshing experience. I also loved the opportunity to interact with special children and their caregivers and to see life from their lenses.
  • Favorite recreational activity: Dancing is my favorite recreational activity. I love expression through dance and that also makes up for an otherwise sedentary lazy lifestyle!

 Abby Reynolds

  • Role at ADI: I am a Biomedical Engineer on the Medical Products team.
  • A bit about me: Outside of work, I absolutely love being outside rock climbing, backpacking, or cross-country skiing. I’m certified to lead backpacking trips, and I once hiked 50 miles in one straight shot on the Appalachian Trail!
  • What I want to get out of Project Playtime: I would love to feel like I have had an impact on a local organization (Newton Athletes Unlimited) by seeing this project from conception to conclusion. This is also a great way to make connections within ADI, across groups, and I have loved getting to know everyone else on the team.
  • Favorite recreational activity: Climbing (at local gyms or outside).

 Shane Fagan

  • Role at ADI: I currently work on the Medical Platforms Team within the Healthcare Group.
  • A bit about me: I am from Middletown, Rhode Island (right next to Newport). I attended Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) and double majored in both Electrical and Computer Engineering as well as Biomedical Engineering. I was fortunate enough to study abroad in Australia and New Zealand. Also at WPI, I was the Captain of the NCAA Men’s Varsity Soccer Team and the Risk Manager for the Alpha Tau Omega Fraternity
  • What I want to get out of Project Playtime: When I first heard about Project Playtime’s Massachusetts team and their project, it was a no-brainer for me to join. Not only do I love engineering, but I have a passion for soccer and for helping others. Joining this team allows me to incorporate all three of these things. I hope that our project is not only successful in that it works and provides a platform for others to build on or create similar projects, but also make a real and positive difference in the lives of these children and teens with disabilities.
  • Favorite recreational activity: This is tough! I love playing all types of sports such as snowboarding, basketball, volleyball, softball, etc. Although I have been playing soccer since I was four years old, I have to say my favorite recreational activity is surfing, as I was lucky enough to grow up just a couple miles away from the beach! Traveling has also given me with the opportunity to surf not only all along the East Coast of the U.S. from Florida to Maine, but also in places such as California, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, Mexico, Australia, and New Zealand! 

 Above Image: Shane Fagan enhancing the prototype.

Partner Liaisons and Global Communications

Christina Dervin

  • Role at ADI: Corporate and Securities Paralegal in the Legal Department.
  • A bit about me: I have been with ADI for 18 years now, and my husband, who I was introduced to by other family members that worked at ADI, has been with the Company for 23 years. Prior to joining ADI I worked as a Preschool teacher 
  • What I want to get out of Project Playtime: I’ve been fortunate to work in various roles within Corporate and interact with a large portion of the Company. My goal for Project Playtime is to be able to meet new colleagues in fields where my skillset does not typically overlap, such as engineering and manufacturing. The opportunity to meet new faces, and partner with an outside organization while helping find a solution to challenges they face while utilizing ADI technology is very rewarding.    
  • Favorite recreational activity: I love skiing, though I haven’t gotten out much this year due to schedule conflicts. Both of my children play soccer, so watching and coaching them is really my favorite pastime.  

Michele Viani

  • Role at ADI: Applications Engineer in the High-Speed Converter Group in the Communications Business Unit.
  • A bit about me: Originally from Long Island, NY but have been living in the Boston area for about 10 years. I have two dogs who are amazing and we love to go on hikes, long walks or just lounge around. I am also a singer. I was in my college a cappella group, The Rusty Pipes and currently sing as part of a band (MSF Band) around the Greater Boston area on weekends.
  • What I want to get out of Project Playtime: When I was in high school and college I volunteered and worked for Camp ANCHOR, a summer camp for handicapped kids and adults, for 6 years. I found the job extremely rewarding. When I heard that Project Playtime was partnering with the NAU organization I immediately wanted to learn more and do something to help better the recreational activities for these athletes. Though I’m primarily a liaison and not part of the technical team for FoF, the merger of my studies in EE with my interests of working with people of various abilities was very exciting for me!
  • Favorite recreational activity: I love volleyball, though I have only played it recreationally. I grew up playing softball from my Little League days through high school and into college. I can’t say I’m any good at all at soccer though, so maybe this prototype could help me get better as well! 

Local Organizing Team

Kelly Bunting

  • Role at ADI: Content Management & Research Librarian with Technical & Marketing Information Services (TMIS).
  • A bit about me: As a Southern (Mobile, AL) transplant to New England, I’m still encountering new and strange things about this place almost daily and loving it. Why a lobster roll isn’t served on po’ boy-style bread and New Englanders drive with the window down no matter the weather, I’ll never understand.
  • What I want to get out of Project Playtime: Having worked with organizations like NAU in the past, I was excited to join Project Playtime for the opportunity to collaborate to solve a need for such a vibrant community. As an added perk, I’ve been able to meet people across groups within ADI that I may never have encountered otherwise.
  • Favorite recreational activity: Taking “recreational” in its literal form, i.e. an act of leisure, I would say baking! Primarily cakes but baking of any kind really. 

Jamie Nicolas

  • Role at ADI: Product Engineer for the Healthcare Imaging group.
  • A bit about me: When I’m not at work, I love playing nerdy board games and video games. My latest addictions are the board game, Scythe, and PS4 game, Kingdom Hearts 3.
  • What I want to get out of Project Playtime: I had a lot of fun organizing the Hackathon Kick-off event and got to meet a lot of people at ADI I don’t normally work with. I hope the Focus on Futbol team can create a project that will be both fun for kids to play with and will also make sports more accessible for children of all abilities.
  • Favorite recreational activity: This totally depends on the season! Ultimate Frisbee in the summer, disc golf and volleyball in the fall, skiing in the winter, and yoga all year round!

Stay tuned to the Project Playtime for more updates and team spotlights.

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