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Project Bishop

Justin Bishop was on a trajectory to become a pro skateboarder when a genetic disorder left him visually impaired at age 25. In 2018, we teamed up with Zappos to develop technology to help him navigate skateparks and the world through the use of sound.

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An avid skateboarder with the dream of going pro, Justin began to lose his sight due to retinitis pigmentosa in his twenties.

Not Impossible Labs worked with Justin and aerospace engineer Tony Long, to create technology that allows skateboarders to navigate without needing to see the skatepark.

The Absurdity

Justin can still skate but is limited by his ability to visually perceive new environments.

The Goal

Create sonic localization technology to allow Justin to navigate and skate freely in any environment.

The Solution

Not Impossible teamed up with Zappos and engineer Tony Long to develop a phased array speaker system that creates a concentrated beam of sound. Inspired by beeper boxes already on the market, Justin can place the phased array speaker system around the skatepark to create acoustical markers so he can navigate with his sense of hearing.

Justin is now a sponsored professional skateboarder. Before using the “sonic localizer“ tech he was skating by muscle memory. Now he is learning new tricks, confidently getting more speed. Now that he's getting more air, he says skating is “dangerous” again.

I call it a soundscape, because I can map out what I’m skating in my head by the different sounds and how it’s hitting my ears.

– Justin Bishop

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