Wearable Technology

Wearable tech set to tackle head injuries in sport

Wearable tech which measures and tracks head impact force in sport and recreational activities is set to aid research and support informed decisions on the risk of brain injury


ased at the Edinburgh Business School (EBS) Incubator within Heriot-Watt University, the innovative technology has been developed by start-up company HIT. Featuring a unique impact sensor, wearable across multiple sporting and activity applications, the device universally clips onto any helmet or halo headband, detecting G-Force and recording impact via a companion app. Utilising a traffic light system, the app records data and acts as an early warning notification for the user regarding the level of impact force recorded and highlights the caution required in continued exercise. Founder Euan Bowen, 28, an avid rugby player, was inspired to develop the technology, named HIT Impact, after a close friend and teammate was injured. With brain injuries rarely

reported, Bowen spotted a gap in the market for sportspeople to track brain health. Bowen explains, “While studying for my degree, a close friend was injured during a game which made me curious about the impact of sub-concussive head knocks. I found little technology available to monitor head impact despite the severity of the issue across different sports. As a member of a rugby club in Edinburgh, I began researching and developing a project, working closely with the team to develop an initial prototype. “HIT Impact uses technology to monitor and identify user impact levels throughout a game in real time. It works by creating a baseline level of force incurred by the user and tracking any impact throughout their playing time. Once the baseline is met, the user is then removed from play to prevent further impacts. They can then be assessed using current concussion guidelines to deem their fitness to return to play. By tracking these impacts, we can collect data anonymously and build a data bank of situational head impact data to aid further research and understanding of traumatic brain injuries.

“High impact sports are focusing increasingly on

concussion mitigation with the Field

(Football’s Influence on Lifelong Health

and Dementia Risk) study recently finding that former professionals are three and a half times more likely to die of dementia than the general population.

“In 2018, I secured a place in the Edinburgh Business School Incubator at Heriot-Watt University, which provided an ideal platform for me to validate my innovation and identify suitable markets. The move provided access to invaluable business advice and entrepreneurial training within an immersive environment with like-minded individuals. Developing your own company can be a lonely experience but incubator support can revolutionise the journey from idea to market for an entrepreneur like me.”

The sensor is accompanied by an app which has a 150m range and is capable of recording for multiple devices. It also features a ‘Team Play’ recording function for sports like football and rugby.

During the pandemic, HIT has catalysed future plans for product development, subsequently launching its first Kickstarter campaign to enable the company to move into production within two months.

Kallum Russell, manager of the EBS Incubator says: “HIT Impact is a much-needed technology to track and support the current efforts to increase sports safety at a time when governing bodies across high impact sports are increasingly focused on minimising head trauma. “The current parliamentary inquiry into concussion recently heard evidence about the long-term implications of repetitive head trauma on sports people with MPs asking how sports could be made safer. We believe this innovation could go a long way to aiding research and supporting more informed decisions about when to stop playing. “As lockdown restrictions continue, we are supporting the development of innovative new products and services like HIT Impact using a combination of virtual seminars, speaker opportunities, online networking events and mentoring services. By continuing to accelerate the progression of new companies at the start of their business journey, we hope to help drive economic recovery and growth.” hit-impact

Ideal Industries invests in keeping staff safe I

deal Industries, the specialist in electrical tools, accessories and consumables, is embracing technology to continue keeping staff safe as lockdown restrictions ease with the Orbi- Trace social distancing system. Developed by Casella, a company

owned by Ideal Industries Inc, the Orbi-Trace system comprises wearable tags, which emit an audible or vibration proximity alert if members of the team breach social distancing parameters programmed into the device. The system can also provide effective contact tracing and real-time location data to deliver a complete social distancing for the Ideal Industries team. The sophisticated ultra-wideband (UWB) connectivity in the wearable Orbi-Trace tags detects distances with

42 July/August 2021 Components in Electronics

accuracy within just 10cm. Ideal Industries will deploy the tags in combination with wall-mounted anchor units, enabling the management team to revise risk assessments and one-way systems based on detailed data. Brett Smyth, general manager

EMEA of Ideal Industries explains: “While we’re expecting all COVID-19 restrictions to be lifted soon, as an employer, we are mindful that the risk of infection will remain for some time, particularly in light of what we know of new variants. “We wanted to deploy a system that will enable us to keep social distancing in place as part of a long-term staff wellbeing strategy. With Orbi-Trace, we can do just that, giving our team the reassurance of knowing they are keeping a safe

distance from colleagues while using valuable management information to plan and revise layouts as the situation continues to unfold.”

The Orbi-Trace system will allow the Ideal Industries team to wear the electronic tag on their belt clip and switch it on with a single button, configuring the audio to their preferred sound level or select vibration if they prefer. The CE-certified system will not interfere with the WiFi signal so it is suitable for use throughout Ideal Industries’ Cheshire HQ, including both office and warehouse areas.

“There is real optimism of a return to ‘normal’ now,” Brett adds, “and investing in Orbi-Trace will allow us to further enhance our risk mitigation practices to make the workplace even safer and our staff more secure.”

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