Alumni duo create the next-generation smart sports mouthguard

Robert Paterson (Product Design Engineering 2017) and Thomas Quinn (Electronic and Electrical Engineering 2018) are the Co-Founders of ORB Innovations, who have created the world’s first smart sport mouthguard that allows contact & combat sport athletes to track their performance and wellness with heart rate and head impacts. It’s the world’s first mouthguard that monitors both physiology and biomechanics.

The creation of the ORB Smartguard was inspired by an accident that Robert faced as a teenager while playing rugby. He suffered a concussion and after worsening symptoms and a hospital visit, discovered that he had a subdural hematoma which left him bedbound for 5 weeks.

As many as 64 million contact and combat sport athletes are unable to track their performance or monitor their welfare in games, fights or training, as wearables such as smartwatches and chest worn heart rate monitors are banned. This was something Robert and Thomas wanted to change.

The realisation of this untapped market led them to create the world’s first smart sports mouthguard that monitors both physiology & biomechanics… Imagine a ‘Fitbit in a mouthguard’… tracking everything from heart rate to head impacts. With regular fitness trackers banned in these sports, ORB Smartguard and companion app is the first time these athletes can track their stats during games or fights. It even looks and feels like a regular mouthguard, but with so much more inside.

ORB Smartguard has been in development since 2017 and tested with pro-rugby teams since 2019. Most recently with the Rugby Football League (RFL) last Autumn and with the Allianz Premier 15s in spring of this year.

The novel benefit of ORB Smartguard is that it is not only able to provide immediate performance insights to the users, but that the biomechanics data collected from the device can support head injury research. Shining light on head impact exposure across amateur and professional sport. The timing couldn’t be better as concussion has been the most reported injury for the 10th consecutive year in rugby and accounts for 28% of all injuries within the sport, according to the RFU.

It was during Robert's final year at University that he established the foundations of the invention during business modules and successful pitch competitions. Following graduation, he was invited to join The Studio, Loughborough University’s Award-Winning Graduate Start-up Incubator. It was during this year that Robert and Thomas met, after Thomas applied to an electronics engineering role posted by Robert. Following Thomas' graduation in 2018, he became the co-founder of ORB and the duo moved their operations to London where they continued to research, develop and fund their idea.

We recently asked Thomas about his hopes and aspirations for the business' development over the next few years. He said:

"The Artificial Intelligence and Algorithms we’re developing, along with the mouthguard hardware is really cutting edge, so we’ve got more products and sectors we’re looking to tackle in the future (pun intended!) once we’ve established ourselves in the sports space... Ultimately we’d like to be a global leader in human biometric data and analysis."

This summer, ORB aim to launch the Smartguard to the amateur market via crowdfunding platform Kickstarter.

Find out more about ORB Innovations.