While helmets certainly do help protect athletes from head injuries, if the player gets hit hard enough, concussions or other injuries can still occur. So, when a coach sees a player getting clobbered, how do they know whether or not they should call them over for the “How many fingers am I holding up” test? Well, if they’re using the Shockbox system, their smartphone will reportedly tell them.
Using 3M adhesive tape, the Shockbox Sensor itself attaches to the top or inside (depending on the sport) of a football, hockey, snow sports or pretty much any other type of helmet. It contains a rechargeable lithium-ion battery, and an accelerometer that detects significant impacts delivered to the helmet.
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If a hit is severe enough, the sensor sends the data via Bluetooth to a paired iOS, Android or Blackberry smartphone running a free custom app – the maximum range is 100 meters (328 feet). Algorithms used in that app process the data, calculating the magnitude and direction of the impact, and advise the phone's user of the likelihood of brain injury.
Should the app indicate that attention is needed, it will then guide the user through a checklist of symptoms to look for, along with memory and balance tests to perform on the player. If it then decides that medical attention should be sought, it will take the user to a list of contacts – both general emergency contacts, and family contacts unique to that player.
Up to 128 sensors can be paired to one phone, so users could conceivably monitor an entire team at once. The app also keeps a history of hits received by each player, and allows impact data to be sent along to medical personnel, parents, or other parties.
The Shockbox Sensor is available now, for US$149.99 per unit. The system can be seen in use in the video below.
Should you be worried about receiving a head injury yourself when there’s no one nearby to help you, you might also want to check out the ICEdot Crash Sensor. It detects severe impacts to the user’s helmet, then uses their smartphone to call for help if they don’t disable it within 30 seconds.