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Football-helmet sensor warns of concussion risk via phone app

The Shockbox sensor lets you or your coach know when you've been tackled or body-checked too hard, by sending a color-coded alert to a mobile device.

The Shockbox sensor won't diagnose a concussion, but it will send alerts for hits over 50 G.
Impakt Protective

As the Ravens take on the 49ers in New Orleans this weekend during the 47th Super Bowl, physicians will be on the lookout for more head injuries. There were over 160 in the 2012-13 NFL season, and it's become a larger problem as players get bigger and stronger.

The problem is that many concussions go undetected. Impakt Protective's Shockbox is a helmet g-force sensor that measures the impact a player sustains and gauges whether a medical assessment is in order.

The device can fit into any helmet with space amid the interior padding so that it's right up against the hard shell. It can be used in football, hockey, lacrosse, and snow sports like skiing and snowboarding.

As seen in the ad below, if you've been hit too hard, the sensor will send a color-coded alert to your mobile device via Bluetooth; an orange alert will be sent for hits over 50 G, and a red alert is sent for hits over 90 G. A free app for Android, iOS, and BlackBerry interprets the Shockbox data.

Priced at $149, the latest Shockbox sensor is a flexible rubber strip about 5 inches long, and it looks like a wristwatch.

It consists of a Bluetooth transmitter, micro USB, rechargeable lithium-ion battery, and a button that activates Bluetooth pairing and checks the battery.

Up to 128 Shockboxes can be paired to a single phone, so coaches can use the app to track team hits over time.

Ontario-based Impakt Protective has been selling the sensors to junior hockey teams; one NHL team is using them to gather data on hits.

Shockbox follows other proposed helmet sensors such as the Shockometer, the Head Impact Telemetry System (HITS), and a skullcap from Reebok and startup MC10, but none has seen widespread acceptance.

"Tackling or checking is not something that's going to go away," Impakt CEO Danny Crossman tells Crave. "But slowly, people's attitudes are changing. You're getting lots of folks realizing it's not just the head injury itself. You need a gradual return to play."