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Smart Mouthguard Designed To Prevent Heat-Related Deaths In Developmental Stages

Updated on June 27, 2015

As the dog days of summer begin, thousands of teen-agers will be outdoors for long periods of time trying to develop into top athletic prospects in their respective sports. But the price they are paying is too high as, of the 55 deaths attributed to the heat in football alone since 1995, 42 have been middle and high school students.

Dana Hawes, a 42-year-old principal in Richmond, Va., thinks it’s time that something be done about the problem so last year he co-founded SMRT Mouth, a smart mouthguard that can detect medical issues before they become life-threatening. “We’re in the throes of one of the hottest summers in the last five years. We needed this product last week,” Hawes said.

Unfortunately, the product’s at least a year away as he’s been working with a team at the University of Florida, led by Dr. Yong-Ku Yoon, on a series of prototypes to display at the Consumer Electronics Show in January. The mouthguard is designed to gauge four main metrics – hydration, respiration, circulation and exertion – through strategically placed sensors.

The data is analyzed through 140 biometric markers and then transferred to parents and coaches via a mobile app on their Androids or iPhones. Acting like a traffic light, either red, yellow or green colors will be shown with red being the most dangerous, indicating it’s time for a child to cease his or her activities for a while.

“We are trying to change the way people identify with mouthguards,” Hawes explained.

“The real tragedy is that this problem is 100 percent avoidable,” Hawes said, attributing it to a lack of understanding by parents and coaches of how and why heat stroke occurs and how to recognize and treat it properly.

Hawes has enlisted the help of former Seattle Seahawk Super Bowl champion Mike Robinson to be the company’s president and Reggie Williams of the San Antonio Spurs has signed on as an investor.

The company will begin a crowd funding campaign in July to raise money. However, Hawes isn’t developing this product to become rich. “I’m doing this to raise awareness of heat-related deaths and to save a lot of young people’s lives. We have a moral imperative to save our children,” Hawes said.

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