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This Startup is Crowdfunding Early Concussion Detection

Bronwyn Flores, Communications, Coordinator, Consumer Technology Association

From #WorldCup to RFID chips in shoulder pads, technology is dramatically changing the way we think about and play sports. Force Impact Technologies, a new startup founded by  an Arizona State University W.P. Carey School of Business alumni, recently launched an Indiegogo project to help fund FITGuard, a mouth guard that uses accelerometers to determine whether athletes should return to play based on the probability of head-injury. From minor to severe, the FITGuard uses an LED indication with green, blue or red signals to represent a low, medium or high-force impact. A powerful tool for youth sports, co-founders Anthony Gonzales and Bob Merriman hope to create a comprehensive data set for medical research and analysis.

Photo by Ben Arnold

What inspired you to create FITGuard?
Anthony: I was a rugby player at Arizona State University and received a pretty hard hit to the back of the head my senior year, around 2010 or 2011. Thankfully an EMT was there at the time, recognized my symptoms, urged me off the field and told me to sit out. I tried to keep playing rugby, which is very dangerous.
I couldn’t help but think of how many other people have been in a similar situation where there’s ambiguity and lack of knowledge. Our attitude is that the kids of today are going to be the professionals of tomorrow, so we want FITGuard to grow up into being a professional-level product. We’re starting on this demographic 10 years ahead of time.
What do you see as the future of wearables?
Bob: Where we’re going to see a disruption is the choices that people make when they’ve got the data our device can provide. We’re going to have whole new segment of people who can look at sports in a way they never have before and make decisions like, “is this the right activity for someone to be participating in and at what point does it become dangerous?”

How do you define innovation and why are those values important to you?
Bob: Innovation is the ability to look at something and not see the problem that exists today but the room that is left for a solution down the road. That’s what inspired us. It wasn’t that sports are too dangerous and we shouldn’t play them. Rather, there is a problem, how can we help?
What is one thing the government can do to encourage innovation and startups?
Anthony: One of our primary concerns is how we can use this data. If a customer provides us with information, can that information then be used to medically diagnose someone? Since the doctor didn’t physically collect it and wasn’t there at the time, is that still medically sound? While it’s not going to affect us directly, it’s going to affect what we’re trying to do as a whole. Our real goal is to have a powerful data set on youth sports for research and analysis in the medical field to better understand what they’re exposing themselves to. Fortunately CEA has a strong industry lobby presence that is looking into these issues.
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