2. Ensuring Both Accuracy and Affordability
A former British Army officer, Danny Crossman went on to design explosion impact sensors for the U.S. Marines, and even helped create a bomb suit that was highlighted in the movie "The Hurt Locker." But he says the toughest project he's ever handled involved the sports helmet impact sensor the Shockbox. Debuting in 2011 and sold by an Ottawa, Ontario–based company called Impakt Protective that Crossman co-founded, the strip-like sensor sticks on a helmet using Velcro. The Shockbox needed to be affordable enough that parents and athletes would buy it but accurate enough to sense head hits hard enough that they needed to be checked out.
"That’s where the business challenge is, trying to make a complicated sensor as accurate as it can be at a low price, but with a very simple user interface," Crossman says. "The one area where this market will define itself is the accuracy of the data."
The need for accuracy meant Crossman had to focus on everything from standard electronics to size, weight, power, and cost. "For hockey, it has to be low profile and pass the mirror test. For football it has to be thin enough to be inside the helmet and not affect the helmet," Crossman says.
The Shockbox uses long-range Bluetooth to get a signal to a coach or parent's smartphone or tablet. The signal warns when an athlete has taken a risky hit to the head. In no way way does it prevent concussions, but it at least indicates when something should be checked out. "My smoke alarm goes off quite a bit, but I've never had a fire in my house," Crossman says.
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