Could this product ease sport's concussion worries?

Many readers will be familiar with the concept of crowdfunding - we recently reported on the merge of Talentbacker and Pledgesports, both sites dedicated to funding individual sportspeople.

However on the mainstream crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo there’s a variety of projects targeting the sports market, from sports clothing to equipment and accessories.

When looking at crowdfunding websites innovative new products for sports are pretty rare, the most common projects listed are: new social media, sports movies, sports watches/activity trackers, action cameras or funding a sports person/event/team.

But there is some innovation out there, sometimes a new twist on an old idea and sometimes something that seems so obvious you can’t believe it doesn’t exist already.

One past project on Kickstarter was the Hiji Band, a headband designed to alert sportspeople that they’ve sustained a possible concussion. While the kickstarter part of the project has wrapped up the product is not yet commercially available but orders are being taken.

Current concerns about the long term implications of repeated concussions in certain sports means this device may be of interest to parents and coaches of youth participants in potentially high impact sports.  The device is a small box carrying a range of sensors which sits in a headband worn by the sportsperson, the sensor device can be removed to allow washing of the headband.

Given the current GPS and accelerometer technology in use by rugby players and others, the Hiji Band product seems like a logical progression of wearable sports technology.  

The difference with this product is that it produces an audible sound when it detects a potential traumatic brain injury-causing impact and flashes a light, it also sends an alert to a mobile app.  The device captures the speed and direction of the impact to assist in identifying possible concussion risk.  

While rugby and hurling are not among the sports listed on the American website, they may be sports that need to take a look at this product which was initially conceived for use in American Football helmets.  The developers switched to an headband approach when their initial market research showed people wanted it for other sports as well. The product is priced at $150 (€161) for pre-orders on hijiband.com.

Another project currently seeking funding on Kickstarter is Morfboard, an evolution from a number of exercise devices used by those in action sports.

Members of the surf community are familiar with huku balance boards, basically a flat piece of wood that you stand on as it sits on top of a tube of wood so that you can improve your balance skills. This exercise type is one of those included in the morfboard concept.

Morfboard is a project that is the brainchild of a world record-breaking skateboarder and it goes beyond the basic balance exercise enabled by the huku product.  

Could this product ease sport's concussion worries?

Morfboard is designed to be a modular system, it is a basic board that can have different elements added/removed to allow for different activities. It can be a balance board, a skateboard, a resistance band or you can even bounce on it like a Lolo ball from the 80’s (look up pogoball if you can’t quite remember this one).

While the product pricing is far from cheap even at this early bird stage it may be one to watch as it could be next fitness craze.

The basic kit with just the bounce capability is priced at $175 on the pledge page, but expected to retail at $249. The full kit with all the accessories is priced at $295 but will be $479 when it becomes commercially available.

Those interested in new developments in sports could do worse than having a peek at crowdfunding sites, you never know what could appear.


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