Reebok Launches The Checklight, A Head Monitoring Skullcap
With sports concussions constantly in the news and youth concussion clinics opening across the county, Canton-based Reebok is launching the Checklight ($149), a head impact indicator. It’s a skullcap that you wear with or without a helmet during sports or fitness activities while built-in sensors monitor the impacts experienced during those activities. Using a red (bad), yellow (medium), and green (good-to-go), LED-system, the Checklight gives parents and coaches a visual display of physical impact during sports.
Reebok tested the product for three years both in the lab and on the fields, courts, and rinks. Using football, hockey, and other high-impact sports, they created a system of advanced algorithms that give real time data on what’s happening during the game. In an ad for Reebok, Indianapolis Colts quarterback Matt Hasselback explains, “It’s not a diagnostic tool but it makes the game safer because is measures the force of impact to the head and counts the number of hits. It’s a real time teaching tool.”
The Checklight also has another Massachusetts connection. Reebok tapped Cambridge-based electronics company MC10 to transform the technology into an ultra-thin system that stretches, bends, and flexes with the body, making the skullcap comfortable and not distracting during the action. A spokeswoman for MC10 tells the Globe:
“In the heat of a game, you might not respond to a hit if you’re in the zone and the crowd is cheering,” said Elyse Kabinoff, a spokeswoman for MC10. “But now with the light coming on, it gives you the opportunity to say you’re experiencing symptoms, or at least signals to others that you need to get checked.”
This could really change sports as we know it (especially youth sports) and prevent some injuries from getting worse. If every kid playing Pop Warner had this under their helmet, there wouldn’t be any questioning “can he go or not” after a big hit. An easy to read red light would simply tell the coach, “no”. It would take kids out of the game that swear they are fine, and help coaches make ethical decisions about whether or not a player has to leave the game. Every sports movie has that scene in it and after the coach sends him back out, the player leaves the game on a stretcher.
“At Reebok, we are dedicated to helping people be fit for life, no matter which sport or activity they participate in,” says Paul Litchfield, Reebok’s head of advanced concepts in a press release. “The more we learn about head injuries, the more we understand the long term ramifications and we want to do our part to help ensure people can participate, compete and enjoy life. There is still much to be learned in this area, but we believe technology can play a significant role in improving the athletic experience .”