The International Boxing Association (IBA) has successfully trialled the use of new technology, in the form of impact-sensing mouthguards, at the EUBC European Youth Championships. Boxers from several national boxing federations participated, while the data capture is both anonymised and secured. With the assistance of artificial intelligence, data from the impacts is being used to inform research on brain health and to support mechanisms for verifying the judging of bouts.
“IBA has studied developments on sport’s understanding of head impacts and brain health closely. With this new initiative, IBA has become a leader in generating primary research on this very important aspect of athlete welfare,” said Dr Ioannis Filippatos, Chairman of the IBA and EUBC Medical Committees. “The research is at a very early stage, and the pilot project was aimed at understanding the best way to gather more data in the future. Meanwhile, IBA will continue to review our measures around head impacts and brain health – including the use of the Standard Concussion Assessment Tool for athletes, return to play protocols and the relevant provisions of the IBA Medical Rules.”
The mouthguards used to record head impact data are fitted with accelerometers, gyroscopes and transmitters. These allow for the data to be studied and used in real time. In the future, it is hoped that this data could be used to inform ringside doctors while bouts are ongoing. Real time data analysis also has the potential to inform the judging of bouts: when both boxers are wearing the mouthguards, the data they generate can have a close correlation with scoring.
“While there is no expectation of replacing judges, new technology can be very helpful in providing a baseline we can compare scores to. IBA will leave no stone unturned when it comes to ways of ensuring a fair fight, as we work to implement comprehensive improvements in the way boxing is judged,” said IBA Referees and Judges Committee Chair Mr Chris Roberts.
“Comprehensive background checks the consider the digital footprint of individuals, and artificial intelligence-driven tools have already demonstrated their usefulness in helping IBA to improve sports integrity. We look forward to seeing how these mouthguards might be able to add to our growing box of high tech tools.”