Don’t get to excited, I don’t think I will give you daily updates about the Vector Mouthguards but I do feel that the first day is important on many fronts, including: customer service, supplies, and ease of use out of “box”.
I had previously met with the kids individually and emailed the parents to open a line of communication about what was coming and what we could expect. I also told everyone about my expectations for this system. I received many questions from the kids that I could easily answer (looks, weight, how it works, “will my braces mess it up?”). The parents really only cared about performance and many were excited about it, even the parents of the kids that were not selected to wear them.
We ended up getting enough money to outfit 40 players so I had so select a group of kids that I thought would be a good cross section for what I wanted to know from this. I chose the following people: all varsity starters on both sides of ball except for QB, the 2’s that would be getting the most work on the scout team, players that would play both JV and Varsity, and the remaining were players that are probably not going to see much action – mainly on their own volition in practice or games (if you know what I mean). Within that group I have 4 players that have previous history of concussion, including two that have multiple concussions in their past. This I feel represents the kids that will see the most possible impact throughout the season.
I received the shipment yesterday and included were the mouthguards (lanyards number stickers), the chargers, a computer, the antenna for the system with a tripod and a carrying case for it. All was set up and ready to rock after getting the players and mouthguards into the system.
Today, Tanner Nussbaum from the Green Bay area drove down to help with the fitting and getting system up and running, and hew as on time and ready with all answers to any questions I had conjured up over night. We had the 40 players meet at 1:30 for fitting and computer inputting with final instructions, the last players were done after an hour and 20 minutes. It all went rather smoothly, minus some computer hang ups due to user error (me) and an anomaly with some mouthguards not saving in the computer.
Those bugs were fixed with some behind the scenes work from the technical staff, remotely so again it was all smooth. The only “major” early issue is that the lanyard provided is not very user friendly. If you have the lanyard on you cannot get it into the charger so you have to remove the lanyard to put in charging station. This is an issue that they are keenly aware of but it does not impact my team b/c no one uses a freaking lanyard (drives me nuts).
Time to practice, but….. The weather was rolling in so I didn’t think I could get the antenna out with the computer in the elements. I was instructed that the antenna need to have an unobstructed path to the mouthguards to capture the data, real-time and the thought was that the press box would be interference.
What the heck, I thought I would give it a try, about 3 stories up, 40 yards off the field and behind the glass Tanner told me that it might not work. Well low and behold when I fired up the system all the green icons for the players started lighting up with connectivity and signal. A few took a min or two to come on line but when they did and started hitting the impacts were registering! I even yelled down to the field to tell players to put in their mouthguard and they laughed at me b/c I knew from so far away.
Lets go back a step, I had the opportunity to set the team thresholds of what the system will report on; the computer and to the sideline notification system. The stock is 20G to register and 90G to sideline notify (through smart phone). Because I have never seen what a 90G hit looks like nor a 20 for that matter I had it changed to 10G & 100G. However, you do have the ability to set thresholds for each individual player so my concussion history players had their top threshold lowered to 75G (no reason for that).
As the team progressed to one of our very few 5 minute periods of full contact action it was time to see what this could do. First play I noticed a LB that delivered a big shot on the RB and about 3 seconds later their numbers popped upon the screen with hits of 22G (RB) and 38G (LB). It looked like a normal “hole collision” and it was nice to see numbers with it. I also paid attention to the area of each players head where the impact was taken. I then looked at each players event and saw that the vector arrow for direction of impact with any linear and rotational G’s noted and noted correctly. I was amazed with the first hit!
As the period progressed, in – what ended up being a 7 min period – there were a total of 37 impacts greater than 10G registered for those in the mouthguards (about 17 of the 22 players out there). The largest impact was one of the bigger hits again in the interior line with 2 LB hitting the RB. Both LB had impacts greater than 40 but the RB had an 11, and from my observation that is how it looked to me, the LB delivering the blow to a well prepared and braced RB.
Interestingly, I had many interior line events, with the DL and OL as well, the pulling guard consistently was registered when he pulled and the DL receiving the blow as well. Occasionally, there were some pass protection plays were the OL got an event registered, when I was watching it was on a blitz and late pick up.
I guess I could go on forever on this today, but we were cut short on practice because some jerk (me) ran them inside due to lightning.
From what I saw in about 25 minutes of capture you can color me impressed with what this does. To be honest I don’t know how it will totally help me until I get to see more contact and what it looks like to my eyes compared to what the system says. For now the artifact of bag drills and controlled contact seem to be removed from the reporting system, where I would expect it to be absent. And when I noticed hits that I thought could be a “big” hit, it registered every one of them.
After we were done I had about 10 min to mess around with the system to see if I could generate reports and such but I just did not have the time to get beyond a player report. But I did get to see the number of impacts that were registered for each player above 10G, which is important to me.
As the players were leaving I had them come to me with any issues or comments after today, being the first and most likely to have issues, and there were only two: one was that it looked stupid, the other had to do with the height of the gum guard on the front. Every other player liked the feel and didn’t notice other than taking out.
I am looking forward to getting the feel of this system over the next few days and tuning this up to where I think it will work. I imagine I will also be sending a bunch of “wish list” items to i1biometrics – they will love me /sarcasm – and I will report back to all of you.
Day 1 grade = 4.25 tape rolls out of 5
If you have more specific questions you can: email, comment or tweet me…