If youre a fan of foosball, then the folks at Enventys - a Charlotte-based product development firm - have got a treat for you.
A team of nine employees has created Foolsball, which puts a twist on traditional foosball by incorporating weather elements and other new challenges.
Foosball is a soccer-based game played on a table. Players use handles to maneuver small figures to shoot a hard, plastic ball into one of two goals.
We were like, How can we make a fake version of a real game become more real again? said Jeremy Losaw, a senior engineer at Enventys and Edison Nation.
The Foolsball table was built as part of a game-building competition organized by Red Bull, the energy drink maker. The Enventys team is one of 12 vying for a chance to win a trip to New York City, and a cash prize.
Losaw, 32, is a self-described hacker-geek, or as he says, those who are garage tinkerers and have a propensity to take things apart and see how they work. Losaw used to work for NASCAR, and joined Enventys this past October.
The two companies Losaw now works for are housed under one roof on Elliot Street in Charlotte. Enventys develops products for companies, and Edison Nation pairs independent inventors with retailers and manufacturers looking for outside innovation. Louis Foreman is CEO of both companies.
The teams had 72 hours to design and build their games. They began work last Thursday at 9 p.m., when guidelines were announced.
There werent many rules, but there were size regulations, since the top games will be shipped to New York.
Foolsball features wind, rain, fog and lighting that occur under a plastic dome that tops the turf field. The weather elements are controlled from a kiosk separate from the playing field, allowing for audience interaction.
The most treacherous weather element may be the lightning, made of strobe light flashes on the field and tiny electrical shocks players feel on their hands.
Beside worrying about inclement weather, players also must focus on their balance because the game stands atop a platform that moves up and down like a see-saw.
Foolsball was mostly created from products that the team tinkered with, including the leaf blower that powers the games wind, the sprinkler that creates rain, and computer-printer parts used to build the goalies.
Losaw said the team got off to a rocky start, but eventually found its groove.
Most people went home Friday night, I think. But after that, many of us did a 40-hour day, Losaw said. The team roster also includes: Patrick Bailey, 21; Kevin Dahlquist, 38; Chris Gabriel, 48; Ryan Gorman, 34; Rae McNeil, 24; Carlos Perez, 25; Tom Philpott, 34; Mike Starkey, 27.
Now the engineers and designers behind Foolsball are waiting to see if theyll go to New York. Four of the 12 competing teams will display their games at the World Maker Faire on September 29-30 at the New York Hall of Science in Queens, N.Y.
Going to the fair to meet other hacker-geeks and makers, is a pretty good prize in and of itself, said Losaw.