Can A Sensor-Laden Mouthguard Detect Dangerous Football Impacts?

Scientists at Stanford University are working on a smart mouthguard which uses sensors to detect dangerous football impacts.

Can A Sensor-Laden Mouthguard Detect Dangerous Football Impacts?
[Image: Flickr user Matthew Reid]

In a few years, college and professional football players could be using smart mouthguards to detect dangerous head impacts.

A team of bioengineers at Stanford University are working on the project, which is designed to report dangerous impacts in real time. The mouthguards are currently being tested on Stanford football players, in the hope that the devices–which contain sensors similar to those used in smartphones–will be usable on the field to prevent football-related brain injuries. Eventually, researchers at the university hope the technology can be applied to all sorts of activities that can cause traumatic brain injuries.

“Our football team has been extremely cooperative and interested in helping solve this problem,” said project lead David Camarillo. “Football players willingly put themselves at risk at a well-defined point and time in space for us to carry out our research in this ‘lab.’ What we are learning from them will help lead to technologies that will one day make bike riding and driving in your car safer too.”

The smart mouthguards contain accelerometers and proximity sensors, and send data to servers which use machine learning techniques to extrapolate impact information. Camarillo’s lab at Stanford is looking for postdocs and graduate students to assist with the project.

About the author

Based in sunny Los Angeles, Neal Ungerleider covers science and technology for Fast Company. He also works as a consultant, writes books, and does other things.