Dealing with concussion in sports is a contentious issue, with some teams accused of putting athletes’ lives at risk for sporting glory.
BlackBox Biometrics, however, is hoping to make things more clear-cut, using a lightweight sensor that measures concussive forces.
The Linx IAS, which won several Innovation Awards at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show, is simply strapped to the athlete’s head and monitors any impacts that occur. The wearable device uses a three-axis accelerometer and gyroscope to measure impacts and transmits the information via Bluetooth to smartphones hundreds of feet away. It is also small enough to be worn discreetly under a helmet or headband and could prove useful in both team and individual sports.
Last year, the importance of administering correct medical care after a head injury was raised during a Premier League clash between Tottenham Hotspur and Everton. The Spurs goalkeeper was knocked unconscious following a collision with Everton striker Romelu Lukaku, but was allowed to continue playing. Since then, the Premier League has introduced new regulations to protect concussed players.
The Linx IAS triggers an alert following a concussion-level impact which can then be analysed by a coach or team doctor. The accompanying app includes a “cognitive and concussion symptoms test” to further analyse the effect of any collision. The athlete is also provided with a colour-coded LED light, letting them know if the impact was serious or not. A low-level impact registers a green light, a moderate one shows up as yellow and a red light indicates severe force.
While athletes will still need to visit a doctor to receive an official concussion diagnosis, the device could prove useful in recognising whether or not an athlete should be allowed bto continue. As up to 128 Linx IAS sensors can be synced with a single smartphone, coaches and trainers can monitor a wide range of individuals and teams.
The Linx IAS will be available from the first quarter of this year and will cost $200 (£130). Given that nearly 3.8 million people are affected by a sport-related brain injury each year, it’s a device that could end up saving many lives.