MIT Grads Design the Jolt Sensor by Erick P. '17
to help high school athletes detect concussions better
MIT students are always pumping out crazy new inventions left and right. The builder community at MIT is one of the strongest in the world and being in an environment where people are always creating new things inspires others to create new things themselves, like MIT graduates Benjamin Harvatine ’12 and Seth Berg ’14 who recently built a concussion-detecting device they named the Jolt sensor.
While wrestling at MIT, Ben Harvatine ’12 got a concussion that went undetected. He continued practicing until he suddenly felt a dizziness come over him that rendered him unable to speak as he staggered into the trainer’s room. This problem of undetected concussions has become too prevalent in young athletes, and Ben, as a mechanical engineer, decided to address this issue by designing a concussion-sensing device over his last year at MIT. Fellow MIT student and fraternity brother Seth Berg ’14 joined the project, adding his computer science and electrical engineering expertise. Together they made several functioning prototypes ready to receive funding for mass production and distribution.
“This is the product that I wish I had growing up. And it’s the product that today’s young athletes need. I want to make sure that nobody has to go through an experience like mine, and, by recognizing injuries when they happen, rather than after the fact, we can ensure that athletes receive proper care when they need it.” – Ben Harvatine
The Jolt sensor is a small clip that attaches to any piece of head-word athletic equipment and vibrates to alert the athlete if their head accelerates in a dangerous way. Jolt itself is a startup founded in Boston in 2014 that has worked closely with the MIT Venture Mentoring Service and is even a 2014 MassChallenge Finalist. The Kickstarter to fund the Jolt sensor was launched on August 26, 2014 and in just one day gained 115 backers and raised $11,000. Now they’re holding a social media contest where you can people can vote fr their school teams to be equipped with Jolt sensors funded by donors from the Kickstarter.
Ben and Seth are also alumni of my fraternity Phi Kappa Sigma. Just by seeing them start this startup taught me a lot about how to make a successful campaign, from contacting newspapers to networking with startup funders to spending long hours working hard to improve the actual product. Like I mentioned earlier, MIT has created an environment where seeing others create new things inspires people to create their own and now I feel even more inspired to create new things.