Like Tag – Only Uber
Wally Nehls (’84), chief technology officer at Bethel, has given tag a whole new meaning with Uber Tag. It’s an advanced form of laser tag featuring wireless communication that he invented for Microsoft’s international embedded SPARK 2010 SUMMER Challenge. “I knew in order to do well I would have to make it uber,” says Nehls of his invention.
Uber comes from the German language, meaning superior.The challenge called for participants to show off their design skills utilizing Microsoft’s embedded software — software that is built into electronic devices. “I played a lot of paintball with my nephews and sons,” says Nehls on choosing to develop a form of laser tag.
About two years ago Nehls came across an article on the IBM developer’s site on how to build a laser tag game. He stored the idea in the back of his mind for future reference. The idea happened to “fit the theme [of Microsoft’s contest], which was Fun and Games, and I thought ‘what the heck, I’ll do it,’” he says.
But Nehls wanted his invention to be better than laser tag. Uber Tag includes a GPS system, infrared censors, headphones and a forearm-mounted wrist display housed in a portable tactical vest. Nehls devoted 10 to 20 hours a week on his project over the course of three months and made it through three rounds of competition.
The first round consisted of writing a three-page paper of his proposed idea. Round two entailed developing his proposal from a Microsoft embedded computer and software; then writing an eight-page paper describing it; and producing a three-minute demonstration video. In round three, Nehls showcased his project in California. It was during this conference that Nehls was announced the second-place winner of $5,000.
“It was a lot of fun,” says Nehls of producing Uber Tag. “I’ve learned so much throughout the whole project.” Now Nehls is looking to commercialize his product. And who knows, maybe next year he’ll come in first place. “I’d like to do it again,” he says.
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Here is Nehls’ video demonstration of Uber Tag: