BlackBox Biometrics' Linx Impact Assessment System (Linx IAS) made its debut at CES Unveiled on Sunday. The Linx IAS band is built to monitor and rate head impacts, and is targeted to youth and high school athletes, but can be used by any athlete from novice to pro.
We had a chance to try on the Linx IAS, though we weren't exactly in a position to do the ultimate impact test... not, perhaps, the best idea to head a soccer ball in a room full of people wearing suits. That being said, we were happy with the fit and feel of the product, and hope it performs technologically as well.
The Linx IAS will ship with one monitor device, a small and incredibly light stick that slips snugly into a pocket in the back of either a band or a skullcap. The pocket has a picture on it clearly illustrating which way the stick fits; the device took a bit of maneuvering to get into the pocket, but once it was in, there was no chance of it falling out accidentally. The band comes in two sizes, small/medium and large/extra large. The skullcap has four sizing options. Customers can purchase additional bands or caps as desired.
Both the band and the skullcap were fairly comfortable. For the most ideal data collection, the stick should sit just behind the wearer's right ear—we had to adjust our band a few times to get it to fit correctly. Once it was properly situated, however, the band was tight enough to stay put while walking around, but not so tight that it gave us a headache. For athletes who normally wear a sport headband, sweatband, or beanie, we imagine the Linx IAS would feel pretty similar. The material was stretchy but athletic, and seemed thin enough to fit under a helmet without too much trouble.
The app that pairs with the Linx IAS appears well-thought-out, with a smooth interface and the ability to track multiple athletes at once—great for keeping an eye on an entire team during the game. Historical data is stored and available, though individual players' histories do not play a role in how each hit's IAS score is calculated.
Athletes don't need the app to get an at-a-glance check on the danger rating of a hit—the push of a button on the monitor will show a green, yellow, or red light based on the IAS Score. You do not need to take the stick out of the headgear to see the light, but taking the time to pull off the skullcap or band to check the device in the middle of a game may not be entirely reasonable. However, that functionality combined with an adult monitoring on a connected device covers all the bases. Battery life for the stick is about a week, with an easy recharge via USB port.
The Linx IAS provides a new way to collect data to help prevent what are becoming all-too-common head injuries in young sports players. While it does not diagnose concussions, the data the Linx IAS collects can aid health professionals in better understanding individual injuries as well as injuries over time. It's another tool in the arsenal to increase player safety while still allowing the game to go on.