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A sensor to detect head traumas during sports activities

Two students from MIT developed a lifesaver device that will help parents, teachers and trainers to intervene immediately after severe head jolts.

November 2014

A sensor to detect head traumas during sports activities IMA Lab

Ben Harvatine and Seth Berg were both engineering students at MIT when Ben, while training for wrestling, suffered a head injury causing concussion.
The effects of the concussion were considerably worsened because the injury was not immediately detected and therefore the already injured brain was exposed to further dangerous impacts as he tried to continue his training.

The two friends both realized that this kind of situation was not at all infrequent among young and non-professional athletes, who do not have access to sideline technology or medical personnel to identify and evaluate potentially damaging head impacts the minute they happen. And so, during the several months when Seth visited Ben in hospital, they began discussing and developing their ideas on designing a device to confront this problem and offer a solution to America’s
30 million young athletes… and countless others around the world.

The result is Jolt Sensor, a small wearable tech sensor clip that can detect any hard blow to the head and immediately alert nearby parents and coaches of situations that could potentially cause serious head injuries. It can easily be attached to any piece of head-worn athletic equipment: whether you wear a helmet, a headband, goggles, or headgear, it will work. The sensor enclosure has a soft rounded silicone rubber exterior to prevent injury and is fully waterproofed to stand up to dirt, dust, sweat and rain. It has a multi-week battery life and is rechargeable via a standard micro USB port.


When an athlete’s head accelerates in a potentially dangerous way, the sensor vibrates to alert them. It also connects wirelessly to parents' and coaches' smartphones (Android & iOS), using Bluetooth Low Energy, to alert them on the sidelines.

The technology enables information to be sent to devices that are up to 50m away, which means it is strong enough to be used on the pitch or court.
Parents can track their children through the app and a coach can track their entire team simultaneously, while benefitting from the more detailed analytics of the coach dashboard.
When a dangerous impact is detected, a parent or coach is immediately notified that the athlete should be checked on the sideline with the app’s built-in cognitive test and concussion symptom checklist. The results of this test, along with the impact data, are contextualized and presented in simple and understandable terms for parents and coaches. 

A player showing any signs or symptoms of concussion should not return to play until evaluated by a medical professional, as only a doctor can diagnose concussion. All of the important data that has been collected by the app and sensor is stored in the cloud, for quick and easy access by parents and doctors.