Two wearables entrepreneurs have produced a sensor designed for kids’ sports to alert coaches and parents when a player has received a hard blow to the head, possibly causing an injury. They have launched a Kickstarter campaign seeking to raise enough funding to set up production for the device.
Ben Harvatine and Seth Berg co-founded Jolt Sensor. The sensor, which can attach to a helmet or headband, transmits an alert through Bluetooth Low Energy to smartphones. Although the sensor isn’t designed to act as a medical device, Berg said in a phone interview that it is intended to raise awareness when a child has experienced a hard impact to the head. In many cases concussions do not involve players losing consciousness, but parents may want to keep a close eye on the child or see a doctor. The head injury alert sensor is also designed to be used with a standard cognitive test to assess the cognitive function of each user to add more context when they have been injured.
The company’s time frame involves testing production prototypes and developing a companion app by the end of the year before doing a manufacturing test run in January and testing products from the batch in February. That would position the company to begin manufacturing in March and start distributing the sensors to backers in April.
The two met at MIT where Harvatine studied mechanical engineering and architecture and Berg focused on electrical engineering and computer science. In addition to being a Mass Challenge finalist, Jolt also received an Arch grant to encourage startups to base their business in St Louis. That’s meant that Berg works out of Boston and Harvatine is in St Louis.
By making a sensor that can be separated from a helmet, it broadens the number of sports it can be applied to. In addition to sports like wrestling (a sport in which Harvatine sustained a concussion which inspired him to start the company), it also sees the Jolt sensor having applications for women’s sports, particularly soccer where there’s a lot of physical contact, as well as field hockey and lacrosse
There’s also a big data component that the founders are developing. The sensor records whenever it’s been hit, no matter how severe. So by collecting this information and by doing a cognitive test for players at the beginning of the season and whenever coaches and parents receive an alert, they can do a better job of detecting potential problems.