Screentec has already worked on and designed electrode patches for devices that are made to track athletes more accurately, even when a sports watch cannot be worn during the exercise. These wearable sensors have opened up new possibilities among the coaching staff, athletic clubs, federations, and more. A device like Movesense – a programmable Bluetooth ECG, heart rate, and movement sensor – offers a wide range of usage with glue-on electrodes that track movement, acceleration, and impact, but also details that are beneficial in healthcare, such as tracking arrhythmias and other abnormalities.
This time we’ll be talking about the future of wearable sensors and their potential for professional athletes and recreational hobbyists. As we are working together with Northern Sports Insight and Intelligence (NSII) on their ACT Head Impact Tracker’s second model, we asked NSII’s CEO and co-founder, Heidi Kivimaa, for her thoughts on the subject.
Finding solutions to head impact measuring
Where Movesense helps detect anomalies by measuring the wearer’s ECG with a wearable electrode patch, the ACT Head Impact Tracker uses a sensor attached to the wearer’s head by a headband, other head accessories, or a helmet. The current ACT Head Impact Tracker head sensor does exactly what the name suggests: it is a measuring device for forces acting on the head while doing sports. The device is designed to fit a wide variety of sports and athletes in them, professional and recreational athletes alike. In the 1st phase, our focus is developing products and services meeting the needs and wants of team sports like soccer, basketball, ice hockey, and American football. In the 2nd phase, we’ll aim to ensure that individual sports like cycling, equestrian, and Alpine sports will get the product and service features they need and want. The device is attached to the chosen head accessory and collects data throughout training sessions and matches. The sensor communicates and is controlled with a mobile app, and the collected data can be viewed, analyzed, and shared from the application.
The cooperation with Screentec was partially funded through the SmartEEs H2020 EU project* and now NSII is almost at the final stages of designing and implementing the second version of its ACT Head Impact Tracker sensor in collaboration with Screentec. The main difference that the second sensor will have compared to the first one is the flexible construction which makes it easier to attach seamlessly to helmets and other chunkier headwear of different shapes and sizes. This is where Screentec’s input was especially beneficial. Another alteration in the new device is related to its battery: where the first tracker was powered with coin cell batteries, the new one will have a rechargeable battery.
Collecting data for safer exercise and training
NSII and Kivimaa know that there’s a great need for data when it comes to head impacts. “Impacts and forces acting on a head can and do frequently occur in many different sports. Our goal is to provide data to help the sports to prevent unnecessary head impacts. This would prevent the brain injuries they may have caused, as well as brain diseases they might have contributed to.”
Impacts on the head may cause traumatic brain injury (TBI), the most common of which are for example concussions. They can also contribute to a variety of brain diseases, like dementia, Parkinson’s, and Alzheimer’s. “There is frustratingly little the modern medicine can do to what these head impacts may cause, so things should not let go that far. Prevention is the key.” Kivimaa says.
One of the main reasons why NSII with the help of Screentec is working on a second Tracker is being able to offer a new sensor solution:
“There is no “one size fits all -solution” to be found, frequent head impacts occur in so many different sports and to so many athletes all having their unique features, needs, and wants regarding the product and services. Our aim is to serve as many of them as possible with ACT Head Impact Tracker. We want to be the best, the 1st choice, and the preferred partner, in what we do. Nothing short of that.” Kivimaa closes.
Tel. +358 44 730 1638
Northern Sports Insight and Intelligence
Tel: +358 40 3573041