Electronic sports skullcap could reduce risk of serious injury

Reebok has announced the development of a electronic skullcap that can measure the force of impacts to the head and reduce the risk of serious head injuries.

The wearable impact indicator, to be launched by the sports equipment manufacturer early next year, has been jointly developed by engineers from Reebok’s Advanced Concepts group and US electronics start-up MC10.

At the heart of the device is MC10’s conformal electronics technology, a wearable system that enables electronic components to be built into thin materials that can stretch, bend and flex with the human body. For the impact indicator, the technology is housed inside a thin, breathable mesh skullcap that fits comfortably under any helmet.

According to MC10’s website, the technology uses conventional, high-performance semiconductors in conjunction with a proprietary interconnect and packaging technology.

In a recent interview with MIT’s Technology Review, MC10’s chief executive officer, David Icke, explained that wires and electrodes are deposited on silicon wafers using conventional means then peeled off and applied to stretchable polymers.

While the impact indicator is the first product to incorporate the technology, the company is exploring a host of other applications for its technology, including the development of skin patches able to monitor a wearer’s vital signs.

It is also working with the US Army’s US Army Natick Soldier Research, Development & Engineering Center (NSRDEC) to develop solar cells that can be integrated into the fabric cover of combat helmets and rucksacks.