Fly fishing and golf devices, other inventions recognized by Tech
time Noel Perkins went fly fishing, he knew there was room for improvement.
Something about the subtle motion of casting the rod wasnt
working quite right, so he decided to find out why.
Perkins, a mechanical engineering professor, thought he could
use his professional skills to improve one of his favorite hobbies.
He set out a couple of years ago to create a computer program that
would simulate the motion when casting with a fly rod. Along the
way, he came up with a device that could attach to the rod and measure
That device became an invention that Perkins hopes will affect
sports ranging from fly fishing to golf, baseball and tennis.
It actually started as kind of a fluke, says Perkins,
the Arthur F. Thurnau Professor of Mechanical Engineering. It
was purely out of a selfish interest. I wanted to be much better
at fly casting than I was.
|Prof. Noel Perkins practices his golf swing
in the name of science. He has developed devices that measure
the motion of a golf swing and the casting of a fly rod. His
inventions and others are being honored by the Tech Transfer
office at an event Friday. (Photos by Paul Jaronski, U-M Photo
His casting motion has improved significantly because of the device,
and due to advice from renowned fly casting instructor Bruce Richards,
who designs flyline for 3Ms Scientific Anglers division. He
and Richards have worked to uncover how the device can be used to
teach people to fly cast.
Perkins invention, along with several others, will be recognized
at an invitation-only event Friday presented by the Universitys
Tech Transfer office. Perkins and others will demonstrate their
creations, and nearly 500 people who have had invention disclosures,
license agreements or patents in the past year will be honored.
Our annual Inventors Reception will showcase the breadth
and depth of invention at the University, says Ken Nisbet,
executive director of Tech Transfer. We want to honor our
inventors from this past year and encourage other inventors to continue
our proud heritage of world-changing discoveries and tech transfer.
In general, the goal of the office is to promote faculty inventions
and find licensing agreements for those products, says marketing
manager Mark Maynard. Were trying to get the benefits
of U-Ms work out into the world, he says.
Perkins and Tech Transfer filed a U.S. patent and are working
to market the invention to companies. The device uses micro-electro-mechanical
systems (MEMS) technology, which is used in many other fields, including
the measurement of vehicle motion in the automobile industry.
|Detailed view of golf club electronics.
The heart of the fly casting device is a MEMS rate gyro, which
measures how fast the fly fisher is rotating the flyrod while casting.
A signal passes through an analog-to-digital converter, and information
is displayed on a handheld personal computer.
The results of the test are displayed in a graph that looks like an
EKG. In Perkins case, he learned that he was allowing the rod
to creep when it should be still.
I was doing something that was very easy to spot,
he says. I dont do that anymore.
The device could help in a variety of sports, Perkins says. The
fly-fishing device is the most advanced, but he also is working
on a similar application for golf.
The primary use of these devices will be for teaching athletes
how to improve their game, Perkins says. They might
also be useful to sports equipment designers who want to assess
the merits and demerits of competing designs.
The annual Inventors Reception will be at 4 p.m. Friday
Oct. 11 in the Michigan League. Invitations were mailed to all inventors
who contributed to a disclosure, a patent or a license agreement
in fiscal year 2002, as well as guests from the community. To RSVP
or inquire about the event, contact firstname.lastname@example.org
or the Office of Technology Transfer at (734) 763-0614.