With the Euros hotting up, BBC Click paid a visit to the Edinburgh Business School Incubator, based at Heriot-Watt University, to find out how new wearable tech can measure and track head impact in sport.
Developed by incubee Euan Bowen, 28, an avid rugby player, the technology named HIT Impact is set to aid research and support informed decisions on the risk of brain injury in recreational and professional sport.
BBC Click spent time in Heriot-Watt University testing labs finding out how HIT’s unique impact sensor, wearable across multiple sports and activity applications, detects G-Force and records 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.
Euan 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.
“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. 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.”
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 recent parliamentary inquiry into concussion 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.
“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.”
Watch the full broadcast piece (from 7mins)