Not long ago I saw the movie Concussion, and although many will argue that some of the facts were a bit confusing, it does seem clear that concussions are not to be taken lightly. There’s a reason why our mothers were always worried about us falling down the stairs. Thanks to our friends at Arduino I learned about the work of Berto Garcia, a student at Texas Tech University. As early as high school he was thinking of ways of helping football players and geared his science project around the issue. Back then he was questioning why woodpeckers and rams don’t get brain injuries; now he is creating wearable tech for players with bragging rights to a patent.
The gear is based on a helmet and shoulder pads that work in unison. It’s like a car suspension system except for the neck.
The helmet-and-shoulder pads system consists of an Arduino connected to four sensors around the front and inside of the helmet, which is programmed to stabilize immediately after impact. When the stabilizers are not activated, players have full movement. But when a wearer suffers a hit above a certain threshold, the board activates the stabilizers, locking the helmet into place and stiffening up to reduce the whiplash motion of the neck.
The sensors are collecting force data and can transmit wirelessly to key people on the sideline. So, not only will players be more protected, but the information gathered will lead to a better understanding of the impact of strikes on players and hopefully allow for better decision making in the sport. Congrats to you, Berto Garcia, and I’m sure your high school mentor mentions you at every science fair! I know I’m loving the use of sensors here and the way the system works in tandem. If any of you are interested in learning more about detecting force, check out our learning guide on Force Sensitive Resistor (FSR). Then think of how you might utilize a small part that can sense pressure.
Every Wednesday is Wearable Wednesday here at Adafruit! We’re bringing you the blinkiest, most fashionable, innovative, and useful wearables from around the web and in our own original projects featuring our wearable Arduino-compatible platform, FLORA. Be sure to post up your wearables projects in the forums or send us a link and you might be featured here on Wearable Wednesday!