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.
Based at the Edinburgh Business School (EBS) Incubator within Heriot-Watt University, the innovative technology has been developed by start-up 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.
Using 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 – highlighting the caution required in continued exercise.
Founder Euan Bowen, an avid rugby player, was inspired to develop the technology a teammate was injured. With brain injuries rarely reported, Bowen spotted a gap in the market for sportspeople to track brain health.
Bowen explained: “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 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.
“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,” said Bowen.
“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, Bowen secured a place in the Edinburgh Business School Incubator, which provided a platform to validate the technology and identify suitable markets.
During the pandemic, HIT worked out future plans for product development, subsequently launching its first Kickstarter campaign to help the company move into production within two months.
Kallum Russell, manager of the EBS Incubator, said: “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.”
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