It's an ongoing problem within sports such as football and hockey ... players receive a severe blow to the head, yet they either don't realize that they've got a concussion, or they don't want to tell anyone so that they can keep playing. While there are already some helmet-mounted devices that detect and report such impacts, Force Impact Technologies' FITGuard is built into a mouthpiece – which the company claims is a better approach to take.
Among other things, the FITGuard contains accelerometers that measure linear and angular acceleration. When those sensors detect an impact that exceeds a safety threshold set for that particular player (based on factors such as age, weight and gender – although there's also a default setting), a row of LEDs within the mouthpiece turns red. At the same time, an alert is sent via Bluetooth low-energy to an app on the smartphone of a coach or other person on the sidelines.
Should the impact not exceed the threshold, the FITGuard's LEDs will register it nonetheless by turning green. Coaches will also still receive a notification, letting them know that the athlete should be OK. In either case, all data is stored in the cloud, should it need to be accessed down the road. It will also be used to build up the FITGuard database, so that the accuracy of the thresholds can be fine-tuned over time.
According to the FITGuard's designers, a 2013 Stanford University study determined that mouthguard-located sensors were better than helmet-mounted units, when it came to estimating impact forces to the brain. This is apparently because their accelerometers are located closer to the rear molars, which are attached to the base of the skull.
Additionally, a mouthguard would be easier for individual athletes to keep with them and carry from game to game, plus it could be used in helmet-less sports such as soccer and field hockey.
Force Impact Technologies is now raising production funds for its device, on Indiegogo. A pledge of US$99 will get you one when and if the funding goal is met, although the price per unit goes down if multiple FITGuards are pre-ordered. The estimated retail price is $130.
More information is available in the following pitch video.
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