INNOVATIVE and wearable technology that can measure and track the force of head impact in sport is set to benefit research on the risks of brain injury.

Start-up company HIT has developed the technology at the Edinburgh Business School (EBS) incubator at Heriot-Watt University.

It features a unique impact sensor, wearable across a range of sports and leisure activities, which can clip onto any helmet or halo headband to detect G-force and record the impact through a companion app.

This records data using a traffic light system and acts as an early warning for the user about the level of impact force recorded, highlighting the caution required in continued exercise.

HIT founder Euan Bowen, a keen rugby player, was inspired to develop the tech – named HIT Impact – after a close friend and teammate was injured.

With brain injuries rarely reported, the 28-year-old spotted a gap in the market for sportspeople to track their brain health.

Bowen said: “While studying for my degree, a close friend was injured during a game which made me curious about the impact of sub-concussive head knocks.

“I found little technology available to monitor head impact despite the severity of the issue across different sports.

“As a member of a rugby club in Edinburgh, I began researching and developing a project, working closely with the team to develop an initial prototype.”

HIT Impact uses technology to monitor and identify user impact levels during a game in real time, by creating a baseline level of force incurred by the user and tracking impact through their playing time.

Once the baseline is met, the user is taken off the field to prevent further impacts and can then be assessed using current concussion guidelines to deem their fitness to return to play.

“By tracking these impacts, we can collect data anonymously and build a data bank of situational head impact data to aid further research and understanding of traumatic brain injuries,” said Bowen.

“High impact sports are focusing increasingly on concussion mitigation with the Field (Football’s Influence on Lifelong Health and Dementia Risk) study recently finding that former professionals are three-and-a-half times more likely to die of dementia than the general population.

“In 2018, I secured a place in the Edinburgh Business School Incubator at Heriot-Watt University, which provided an ideal platform for me to validate my innovation and identify suitable markets.”

The app has a 150m range and is can record on multiple devices.

EBS Incubator manager, Kallum Russell, added: “The current parliamentary inquiry into concussion recently heard evidence about the long-term implications of repetitive head trauma on sports people, with MPs asking how sports could be made safer. We believe this innovation could go a long way to aiding research and supporting more informed decisions about when to stop playing.”