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Wearable device measures rugby’s impact

Jack NgRugby players could soon benefit from a wearable device which monitors their tackling, improves training drills and keeps them informed of their recovery from injury.

Sansible Wearables – founded by Jack Ng, a rugby aficionado, and Charlie Patterson, a sport performance enthusiast – has created ‘LiveSkin’ intelligent sensors, which are fitted within players’ shoulder pads to capture data from collisions on the playing field.

Transferring data wirelessly to specially-designed software allows sports coaches, physiotherapists and medics to monitor the force exerted by the athletes in a tackle or a scrum, as well as examine their progress following injury.

This information can then be used to improve training regimes and rehabilitation programmes to better reflect how players recuperate.

The developers were winners of the ‘Ones to Watch’ category at the first-ever Internet of Things UK Boost event in Scotland.

Jack, the company founder, said: “The big opportunity for wearables is in sport and the timing is right for our product for a number of reasons. Firstly, the sector is already embracing the technology, with sports such as football equipping players with devices that monitor their speed, orientation, GPS coordinates and a variety of other data.

“Secondly, what we’re developing is unique. Although wearables are already used in sports, our product is doing something very different: measuring force.

“There is a real gap in the market for a system which can accurately understand and communicate how impact relates to different athletes, at different times and, ultimately, the outcome of a game. Unsurprisingly, contact sports, like rugby and American football, are the likeliest to adopt it and see the biggest results.”

The company is working with several clubs to trial the device, with interest high and a full roll-out planned in 12-18 months’ time.

Jack, who played rugby while at Heriot-Watt University, hopes the technology will eventually also be used by amateur clubs and grassroots sport initiatives.

The Scottish leg of IoTUK Boost was organised by Scottish Funding Council-backed CENSIS, The Data Lab, the University of Edinburgh’s Informatics Ventures and IoTUK.

Sansible Wearables is now undergoing a one-month period of incubation and mentoring, to refine the company’s business model and make it fully fundable.

Mark Begbie, business development director at CENSIS, said: “What struck us about Sansible Wearables was the energy and passion of the people involved in the company – they are what really sold the idea.

“Jack’s love of rugby and grasp of cutting-edge technology shone through and, combined with a revolutionary idea that could be explosive, it proved to be a winning combination. We’re thrilled to be working with such an innovative start-up and believe they have a great future ahead of them.”

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