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OR Snow Show

Flaxta's new high-tech helmet battles brain injuries

Flaxta’s Aware Impact Technology uses sensors to measure the force of a head impact, helping identify serious trauma

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Whether it’s from catching an edge or misjudging a turn, a whack on the head is always a risk of skiing and snowboarding—that’s why we wear helmets in the first place. But just how worried should you be if your last crash included a head impact? New helmet and goggle brand Flaxta is betting it can help answer that question with its Aware Impact Technology.

The proprietary safety system, which the Swedish brand incorporates into helmets and headbands, has three parts. A sensor measures linear and rotational forces, plus location of impact; an algorithm analyzes and categorizes impact on a scale of 1 to 3, based on decades of brain trauma research; and an app displays real-time access to critical impact data and spits out recommended actions. This allows users to understand how serious an impact might be, and ultimately, help treat head injuries. Plus, the app will store impact data (date, time of occurrence, and severity) to give an overall impact history.

The Aware Impact Technology system translates head impact data to a compatible app.

“Aware Impact delivers an increased level of safety for users of all abilities by enabling both real-time assessments and post-event analytics of head impacts,” says Flaxta founder Erik Liden. “It will serve coaches, trainers, parents, medical staff, and ultimately, the athletes themselves by gathering and storing critical data necessary for understanding and treating head injuries that inevitably occur in sports.”

I caught up with Liden on the show floor, and he walked me through what happens if, say, Aware Impact Technology categorizes that last yard sale as a level 2 impact. “You’ll be asked by the app to do a subjective test, which is basically the protocol that doctors follow today.” Depending on the results, the app will then give recommended actions, from watching for symptoms to seeking immediate medical attention.

Aware Impact is a standalone accessory that integrates into Flaxta’s snowsport helmets, protective soccer headbands, and future cycling helmets. Devices can be also be disconnected and placed into another product, so you can pop the tool into your bike helmet after ski season ends. Batteries charge wirelessly, and historical impact data will be stored in the cloud.

Liden says the technology represents the next leap forward in snow safety. “When combined with proven analog protective solutions like MIPS [Multi-directional Impact Protection System], our new digital solution delivers a whole new level of safety to consumers, and this is only the beginning,” he says.

The tool is already turning heads. Aware Impact Technology took home an Innovation Award at the 2019 ISPO, Europe’s largest winter trade show.

The Aware Impact Technology device will retail for approximately $100 and will debut in Spring 2020. For now, Flaxta is only making the Aware system compatible with own helmets.

Beyond the outdoor world, Flaxta is also eyeing integration into team sports. Soccer headbands with the Active system are coming out in Fall 2019 if not sooner, and the brand would love to see the technology come to high-impact sports like football and hockey.

Accidents happen. With the Aware system, Flaxta is hoping that we can manage the resulting brain trauma a little better.