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This week's Super Bowl was the most-watched television event in the history of the United States. According to Nielsen, more than 111 million people tuned in. Very few people, however, likely noticed that mobile health made at least two cameo appearances during the course of the game -- both on the field and in at least one commercial.
New England Patriots' running back BenJarvis Green-Ellis was wearing a specialized chin strap that was monitoring how hard he was hit throughout the game. The impact sensing device, which was developed by Battle Sports Science, includes "microsensor and software technology" that measures the G-force and duration of force to determine the likelihood of concussion. If the sensor calculates that a concussion is likely the chin strap begins to glow red.
During an interview on-site at the game, Battle Sports Science President Jeff Evans said that the device included accelerometers but that "it is actually reading what is going on inside the brain," Evans said according to a report broadcast on ABC News. Evans has said in past press reports that the chin strap would cost just $40.
In the United States there are somewhere between 1.6 million and 3.8 million sports-related concussions annually, according to the LA-based Sports Concussion Institute. These mostly occur during organized high school sports -- football for boy and soccer for girls.
Green-Ellis' chin strap did not register any serious hits during the Super Bowl, the hope is that more players participate when the next season begins.
Evans said that Green-Ellis wanted to be able to use the Super Bowl and his celebrity to talk about safety concerns and concussions so that kids and their parents could have that discussion at home, too. A few weeks ago MobiHealthNews wondered whether professional athletes would help drive consumer awareness and adoption of mobile health devices and apps. Looks like they are already trying.
The ABC News report also pointed parents to an iPhone app developed by Children's National Medical Center in Washington DC that helps them check kids for concussions and other head injuries.
Another mobile health device made a brief and almost inconspicuous appearance during one commercial that aired during the big game. 3GDoctor's David Doherty spotted the Jawbone UP device around the wrist of Philippe Kahn, inventor of the camera phone and founder of FullPower Technologies. Fullpower's MotionX Technology powers Nike+GPS and the Jawbone UP's motion sensing features. Check out the UP around Kahn's right wrist in this Best Buy commercial here.
Neither of these cameos seemed to get much attention, but the fact that mobile health technologies crept into this year's Super Bowl should be remembered as a milestone for consumer health.