Concussions are all too common in sports, football especially. It’s such a serious issue that President Obama was part of a day-long summit at the White House on the topic last May. Luckily we live in a time when technology can help keep us — and our kids — in the game. Gone are the days of thin leather helmets, but the styrofoam in current models isn’t enough.
It turns out, we need better mouthguards too.
Parents with children pursuing the pigskin should be aware of i1 Biometrics and the company’s Vector Mouthguards, which are finally available to the public this spring, CEO Jesse Harper told Digital Trends.
Biometrics are increasingly being used to hone athlete’s performance and prevent injury. In certain cases, like boxing, martial arts, and football — both American style and soccer — biometrics can help keep athletes safe. At its heart, the i1 Biometrics Impact Intelligence System is a mouthguard sensor focused on intracranial impacts. The elastic polymer guards contain a three-axis accelerometer and gyroscope managed by proprietary technology.
Players, coaches, and trainers worried about the impact of aggressive tackles can view the data on the location and severity of each hit via the associated computer program and app. Data can be saved for later upload via wireless connection or USB. If the team wants to view hits in real-time, they can have a sensor set up on the sidelines to check the strength and location of impacts in question.
Location, location, location — it’s always key. On the football field for instance, the Intelligent Mouthguard sensors can show when a player has developed bad habits like ducking into hits by showing an overlay of his motion and impacts. The unique real-time impact tracking provided by the Vector Intelligent Mouthguard allows coaches and trainers to change behavior and prevent injuries rather than playing a guessing game.
Coaches and trainers get a real-time run-down and a 3D model of impacts; Harper called these teachable or “coachable moments,” integral to the Impact Intelligence System’s ability to prevent injury. Players can’t bluff or hide injuries, since coaches and trainers with access to the program can see everything in real time. They can then sit players down for a rest or focus on correcting observed risky behaviors during practice.
Ideally, every player on every team would wear one. The mouthguards themselves are customized to the individual, turn on automatically once inserted, and come with a charging case that runs on two AA batteries.
Digital Trends took a look at the Vector Mouthguard last year, before it was available to the public. As of now, they’re on offer for everyone — just contact i1 Biometrics, Harper said. The Impact Intelligence System was adopted by 20 pro teams in time for the spring season, and Harper is aiming for 400 by fall.
Harper has his own little players in the game, so of course he cares about making Vector Mouthguards accessible to teams that don’t have multi-million dollar budgets. i1 Biometrics works with sport booster programs and corporate sponsors to make these available to teams that might otherwise be unable to afford the tech (if you’re responsible for sponsorship programs, don’t hesitate to reach out). Taking into consideration what the mouthguard can actually do, the $199 may be justified. Preventive care is always preferable to corrective or reactive care, after all.
i1 Biometrics is working on new mouthguard forms for non-helmeted sports. We plan to check in and find out more about these, but for now, content yourself with hearing Jesse Harper explain the benefits in his own words.