by Johanna Mischke

June 5, 2012

Impact sensors for sports and more

The head is a very sensitive part of the body, but other parts of the body also need special protection during sports and other physical activities. How important this is becomes clear when you read articles on the subject of head injuries sustained by American football players year after year, for instance as covered only recently by the New York Times. Besides the rule changes in football that have been announced and are discussed in the article, Wearable Technologies offer attractive solutions to athletes:

Riddel – the official helmet supplier to the NFL – now incorporates a head impact telemetry system in its “Riddel Revolution IQ Hits Helmet” that can monitor the number and severity of impacts. The company Bite-Tech offers an “Impact Sensing Mouthguard”  that accurately measures impacts and accelerations experienced by the brain during sports (not only football) from inside the head and transmits the data and information via a proprietary wireless protocol to a base station at the sideline, to which trainers and medical staff have access.

Furthermore, a chin strap known as the “Impact Indicator” is designed to make contact sports safer and is produced by a company called Battle Sports Science. It measures the force and duration of a hit to a player’s helmet, enabling players and coaches to know instantly when or if a possible head injury is detected. The LED light integrated in the strap indicates if the injury is serious and the player needs medical treatment.

ImpaktProtektive offers smart sensors called “Shockbox” to detect impacts (peak G-force of a hit) to the head that may cause a concussion, and to alert the player, coach or parent by LED or wireless signal to sideline laptop or regular smart phone. Possible areas of application are hockey, football, lacrosse or snow sports.

Another impact sensor that can be attached to different kinds of helmet is sold by a company called Shok-Spot-R. It monitors the acceleration level (calibrated with helmet type and data from the respective sport) on your helmet’s outer shell, and activates (turns red) if the acceleration exceeds a predetermined level for more than a certain amount of time. The sensor indicates a severe impact and probable helmet damage, which may be invisible.

A multi-purpose impact sensor comes from a company called ShockWatch. Their solution can be affixed directly onto or can even be embedded into different products. The solution’s main purpose is to prevent the risk of damage to goods during handling, storage and transportation, but could also be used in sports products.

We have covered this topic before with an impact sensor designed for cyclists by Biju Thomas. He will be presenting a new development at our conference in San Francisco. It’s so new that it doesn’t even have a website yet. He will be presenting “Radar Sport Sensors” with his company SenseTechUS. Learn more at this event.