Fencing Gets Modern! New Technology For Scoring Machines…

Yes, that’s a fencing scoreboard, and, yes, that is a video game controller, and, yes, that’s what the referee holds to add the score up, but there is much more! 

The system is attached to a lap top and using the controller, the machine says “fence” “halt” or anything else you want it to say.  The noises can be adjusted to any sound file on your computer.

Even more interesting, is that the machine also provides data on the time between hits.  The “3” on the picture above is th amount of time in milliseconds between the first hit and second.   If only one light comes on and both fencers hit, the fencer whose light doesn’t come on can see how far away they were from getting their light on!  Very cool!

I could see this being very helpful in practice for fencers when it comes to the timing of finishing an attack against preparation.  

The one glitch I saw was that two machines were each using the same computer voice so the fencers on the wrong strip kept stopping for the other box, but that can easily be adjusted. 

These machines just look way cooler also.  Go job whoever figure this one out!

8 thoughts on “Fencing Gets Modern! New Technology For Scoring Machines…

  1. Hi Tim,

    I’m J. S. Hart, and I designed, build, and market the VSM system. Thanks for the attention, and feel free to direct any interest to my website.

    — JS Hart

  2. Cool.

    I’d like to see an extention to this and for Wii (yes Nitendo Wii) to design a sensor that picks up movement on the whole piste and accurately detects a hit without electrics! Wouldn’t that be fencing eutopia?

  3. This is a VSM setup we put together for use at tournaments such as the Arnold Fencing Classic. I found the game controller to be the best choice for venues with multiple pistes (fencing strips) because the controller is linked wirelessly to a single dongle (USB receiver) and it can receive the signal from anywhere close to the piste (you don’t have to have line of sight to the computer.) Although a bit expensive to setup with new equipment, ( HP Mini, Samsung 20″ Monitor, Saytek Controller, PC Speakers, and VSM – total cost $635) we found it to be quite enjoyable for the fencers and referees alike.
    We have added 3 of these systems to our rental equipment inventory. If you are interested in using our services please contact me.

  4. We also saw this last weekend at the Arnold and my fencing kids and I all liked it, with the exception of the “doorbell” sound that played when a touch occurred, which they and I found distracting. However I see that you can alter the sound to any wave file. I suggest a sound without two sequential tones, as that seems to force the brain to slow down to process the different tones, not what you want in a high-speed sport.

  5. Great post – I think eliminating refs could be a huge advancement for the sport. If reffing was done by computer, it would be unbiased, and completely consistent across local, national and international events.

    As a computer engineer, I always thought it would be cool to build a sensor system that would attach to your wrist or bell guard to detect the motion of the fencer’s arms and weapons. The computer could determine who had right of way based on the motion of the sensors.

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