I am a mom, first and foremost. Right now I am an angry mom, because I have a daughter with a concussion, caused by an accident that was no fault of her own. And because I am a mom who works with MEMS (MicroElectroMechanicalSystems), I have started thinking about how MEMS might have prevented, as well as detected her concussion sooner.
First let me back up and tell you the story of what happened because I think it’ll help you understand my frustration. I have been a skier most of my life, and since we started skiing as a family three years ago, my two girls (ages eight and 11) have become great skiers, practicing safe and controlled skiing. And yes, the whole family wears helmets.
Recently we went skiing in Western PA. And while I will spare you the gruesome details, as you can see from the picture I am sharing with you, our ski trip did not end well. Basically my eight-year-old daughter was hit by the equivalent of a 225-pound out-of-control freight train on skis, as he snowballed down the mountain and took out my daughter. Now my daughter has near-constant headaches, is tired most of the day, can’t read without pain and will likely miss up to a month of school.
Ski patrol did a good job of assessing her on the mountain, and on the day of the collision she showed no signs of concussion. Her symptoms only started the next day when she fell asleep in class ten minutes into the school day. Only later did I learn that this is quite common, complicating the detection and diagnosis of concussion. In fact there is a lot of confusion when it comes to concussion and that’s what got me thinking about MEMS in many ways.
Accident Prevention - MEMS Motion Sensors
First I started thinking about the idiots that caused the accident. (There were two of them who collided and then one took out my daughter.) With MEMS motion sensor technology like that developed by Xsens and Movea, I envision myself as “vigilante ski mom” seeing lunatic skiers or inebriated skiers. When I see them, I would tag them with a motion sensor that can recognize gestures and would wirelessly send data to ski patrolalerting them when the skier is exhibiting inexperienced skier gestures and on a double-black diamond.
Watch this Xsens video to get a sense of what I am talking about. Then watch this video of Movea’s motion sensor technology featured by Venture Beat at CES to see why I think this could work – maybe even by putting sensors into ski lift tickets. Think about it, when you buy a lift ticket, you agree to the “skier responsibility code” – which means you will ski at your level and won’t mow down other skiers; MEMS technology developed by Movea and Xsens could help enforce it.
Great article Karen and highly informative about ski safety and MEMS. I agree that more of this type of technology should be used to protect our kids and their safety (and those of us that ski responsibly).
We don't want to live in a bubble, so enjoying things like skiing, bike riding, makes for a richer life and the fact that MEMS technology could create a safer environment is pretty exciting!
Skiing is inherently dangerous. And most injuries are from falls or collisions with fixed objects, not from colliding with other skiers. The only good way to prevent ski injuries is not to ski.
Assessing concussions is difficult: even if you know the deceleration of the skull, you don't know how hard the brain hits. And is it really that useful? The main treatment is rest, which you are probably going to do if you are a skier and hit your head hard, whether or not it was a concussion.
David Patterson, known for his pioneering research that led to RAID, clusters and more, is part of a team at UC Berkeley that recently made its RISC-V processor architecture an open source hardware offering. We talk with Patterson and one of his colleagues behind the effort about the opportunities they see, what new kinds of designs they hope to enable and what it means for today’s commercial processor giants such as Intel, ARM and Imagination Technologies.