One of the most problematic areas of detecting a valid touch in epee is a foot touch. Even at the highest level of competition with grounded pistes there is always a concern whether the touch was valid or not, especially near the strip’s boundary. Many epee competitors and coaches have experienced situations when a valid foot touch was not counted, or when a floor touch was mistakenly awarded.
Academy of Fencing Masters have spent the last 5 years to develop a real fool proof solution to this problem! Our innovative design of epee tip allows a valid recognition of 100% foot touches.
Inspiration Behind The Technology
We all know why fencing uniforms are white. The historical reason behind this is that in a pre-electric fencing era fencers used to dip their swords’ points in a red ink that would leave a mark on an opponent’s uniform when the sword touched it, and the ink was best visible on a white cloth.
With the invention of the electric scoring apparatus the ink gave away to wires, but this did not completely solve the problem. Until now.
Meet a new revolutionary fencing invention – a marking electronic epee tip!
Our patent pending color foot powder epee tip dispenser is a first of its kind powder dispenser that specifically addresses foot touches.
How it works
When a touch is made and the pressure spring is fully pressed in addition to allowing a tip to touch the wire and close the electric circuit for the machine to register a touch, the spring also releases a colored powder that is dispensed through miniature holes in the tip, leaving a mark with the contacted surface.
After the machine registers the touch and lights up, a referee will be able to examine the opponent’s foot. If there are powder marks on the foot – the touch was perfectly made. No more subjectivity or arguing!
Technology Behind This Tip
We spent years developing and investing in this technology, as it proved to be very complicated despite its quite obvious and simple application. There are many scenarios that we needed to consider for this new powder dispensing tip to work properly. The most important – how to separate a foot touch from a chest or arm touch.
For that reason we implemented an embedded technology of specific sensors that analyze in real time the direction and travel traverse of the tip and allow the powder to be dispensed only when the tip is going downwards and reaches the height of the shoe from the height of the initial engarde position.
This unique set of sensors are small enough to be conveniently embedded in the epee tip without affecting its size. This consideration was especially important during the design phase because we wanted referees to continue using their current epee weights and shims that fit all modern epee tips.
This innovation was made possible only due to the recent advances in nano technologies, allowing sensors and powder dispensers to be small enough that the whole electronic-mechanical circuitry fits in the epee tip and still leaves room to the regular spring mechanism.
Additional consideration was given to the powder itself as it was important that the powder does not leave permanent marks on either shoes or floors. A special anti-allergenic, non-stick, evaporating, colored powder will eventually disappear from the touched surface, being it cloth or floor of any kind.
The best part comes from our ability to customize the product. What is customizable is the color of the powder and the shape of the mark left on the shoe.
For example, if you fence against a person with light shoes you can use a dark color powder, while against a black shoe person you can use a white powder.
But even more – the tiny microscopic holes at the end of the tip can be perforated in virtually any shape (again, using our patent-pending technology) which makes it spectacular for commercializing fencing. For example, at an International level competition, such as the Olympic Games, Italian fencers can have their signature foot touch – a mark in a shape of the country of Italy left on an opponent’s shoe, which we call “Boot on a Boot (™)”. (See illustration above).
Another significant breakthrough in the technology is its backward compatibility with legacy epee point parts. This new powder dispensing tip does not require a change of epee barrels, springs or screws, making it an ideal add-on product that can be immediately applied without any epee rewiring, which allows this technology to be widely adopted by the fencing world.
Benefits: cost, health and wider fencing adoption
A wide adoption of these marking electronic epee tips will have long lasting benefits to the sport of fencing. This technology has the potential to eliminate costly flooring solutions that are being implemented in tournaments and in many clubs around the world because there will no longer be a need to use special grounded strips anymore (especially if we consider the grounded piste cost, transportation cost, maintenance cost, and tournament setup time).
Moreover, fencing clubs will be able to invest in good sport floors that provide the best sport performance and which are much more superior in keeping the knees and joints healthy than aluminium fencing strips. This will potentially lead to more fencing clubs being established around the world as the new technology helps to keep overall costs of running a fencing club down.
Fencing Rules Changes
We applied to the FIE Rules Commission to remove requirements for grounded strips. With this innovative tip there is no need for them since referees will be able to clearly distinguish between floor and foot touch.
The FIE Special Rules Commission adopted the new tip for a limited testing that will commence immediately and a successful trial period will be concluded with fencing rules changes.
The USFA (a United States Fencing Association, a governing body of the sport of fencing in the USA) as usual will follow the FIE lead on the decision.
Mass Production Timeline
The first tip model is available in limited quantity to a select group of testers beginning today with plans for mass production set for exactly one year from now, on April 1, 2019. Interested parties should subscribe to our mailing list below to receive timely technology and news updates.