By Dan Kedmey
March 19, 2015

This March Madness, a ref’s whistle blast will instantly stop the game clock, thanks to a a new technology that detects the shrill cry above the din of the crowd.

The technology relies on a breakthrough in whistle design, the New York Times reports.

The classic pea-rattling whistle suffers from occasional lapses in noise if the referee blows too hard or after saliva has collected in its chamber. Those whistles were gradually replaced in the late 80’s by a fail-proof design that funnels the breath through three chambers, which combine to create a shrill, three-toned screech.

This season the N.C.A.A. will sync up the whistle tone to a Precision Time System that automatically brings the game clock to a screeching halt. Tests show that the speed of the system, which stops the clock faster than the average human operator, could add up to 30 seconds of playtime to a typical college game.

Read more at the New York Times.

Contact us at editors@time.com.

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