No stranger to concussions himself, MIT alum Ben Harvatine has developed a device that monitors hard hits on the field and helps athletes make informed decisions about returning to play.
Harvatine conceived of the idea for the Jolt Sensor during his time as a college wrestler. In his junior year at MIT, he suffered a concussion at practice that resulted in memory loss and an arduous recovery. The following semester Harvatine was determined to build a product that would help other athletes avoid this experience.
“Even if the injury itself couldn’t have been prevented, I felt that the severity of it and the recovery process could have been significantly mitigated,” explained Harvatine. “So I put sensors on my wrestling headgear and went back to the mat to gather data.”
He developed the Jolt Sensor, a wearable sensor that measures head acceleration, characterizes impact, and gives real-time alerts to athletes and coaches. In its current iteration, the Jolt sensor is a clip-shaped device that can be attached to a variety of athletic headgear. It characterizes impacts over their entire acceleration curve, and, if it determines that the impact could potentially be associated with an injury, it vibrates on the player’s head and pushes an alert to a connected app via a custom version of Bluetooth that can send data over 200 yards.
The sensor is unique in that it captures data on impacts of all sizes, which allows athletes and coaches to have deeper insights about cumulative impacts on the field. “We don’t just focus on the moment of injury,” says Harvatine. “As it sees players accumulating smaller impacts, Jolt will spin those into an aggregate statistic so that coaches and trainers and parents have an easy way to track trends in their athlete’s general impact exposure, day to day, week to week, and month to month.”
You can read more about Ben Harvatine and the Jolt Sensor here.
Abigail Ballou, Alexandra David, Shreya Iyer and Casey Nugent contributed to this story.
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