Jolt Concussion Detection Sensor

Posted: August 27, 2014

"Jolt is a wearable sensor that allows parents and coaches to track and evaluate their children's head impacts in real-time." I don't know why that line is so funny to me. Maybe because I've seen so much wearable tech over the past year that boasts of its powers to track steps, calories burned, temperature, and energy consumption in real-time that Jolt's ability to track...children's head impacts...in real-time!...sounds like a bizarre joke. Or maybe I myself am just punch drunk from having hit my head one too many times.

Created by Ben Harvatine and Seth Berg, the Jolt Sensor intends to help address what most health professionals agree is a concussion problem amongst athletes. Concussions affect nearly everyone who plays contact sports, and particularly active children, who may experience dozens of head traumas in their youth, and have many of them go unrecognized or ignored. The Jolt Sensor, a small clip that attaches to any piece of athletic head gear, can 1) identify when a player's head is accelerating in a potentially dangerous way, and send him/her a vibration alert; and 2) connect wirelessly to a parent's or coach's smartphone to share the same information.

When the Jolt sensor detects a dangerous impact it sends a notification to the Jolt app indicating the athlete should be removed from play for sideline evaluation. The Jolt app contains a built-in cognitive test and concussion symptom checklist. Following the test the app combines its results with the incident's impact data and presents feedback in terms parents and coaches should find straightforward and simple to understand. The sensor itself has a connectivity range of over 100 yards so app holders can track Jolted children continuously. They can also grant permissions to other parents/adults to do the same if they can't make a practice or game. A coach can track an entire team simultaneously.

Are you wondering if the Jolt's vibration is going to distract kids? Possibly make them tense up or react erratically, leading to a potentially worse injury than the head impact? Of if the real-time feed of Your kid might be experiencing head trauma is going to make helicopter parents even more hovering and psychotic than they already are? What about the Jolt Sensor's Bluetooth Low Energy connectivity? Won't that just give the kids brain cancer, an affliction at least as bad as a bunch of concussions?

I don't know. Maybe. If you want to be a cynical wet blanket about it. But the fact is, concussions are bad news. And the magnitude of their badness continues to emerge and grow as more studies are done on ex-professional athletes, and even kids in competitive peewee leagues. Muhammed Ali is a prime and extreme example, but he's far from the only one. The Jolt Sensor may not be the solution, but I think it's a logical first step in progressing the research and promoting prevention, and worth a try.

The Jolt Sensor for concussion detection runs as a Kickstarter project through September 26, 2014.

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