Technology could help minimize the risk of head injuries from playground falls

From: Purdue Research Foundation

MERRILLVILLE, Ind. – A company based at Purdue Research Park of Northwest Indiana is commercializing technology that could help minimize the risk of children’s head injuries from playgrounds falls.

Sonam Technologies recently received a U.S. design patent for its ST Impact Analyzer CH, a portable electronic tester that can measure and record impact data for the surfaces of playgrounds or other sports surfaces.

“More than 70 percent of the playground injuries that result in a trip to the emergency room are from falls onto the playground surface,” said Chris Hanson, co-founder of Sonam Technologies. “According to a recent study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 21,000 children under the age of 14 are treated annually in emergency rooms for moderate to severe traumatic brain injuries that were the direct result of falls to a playground surface.”

The device consists of a handheld sensor packed with electronics to mimic the characteristics of a 6-year-old child’s head. When dropped onto a surface, it measures the maximum G forces, velocity, calculated fall height and likeliness of a head injury, sending the data to a tablet device included with the tester.

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, the most common types of approved playground surfaces are pea gravel, sand, shredded rubber, wood mulch and wood chips. However, exposure to weather and repeated use over time can change the surface characteristics.

Current playground surface testing is done either in a laboratory setting in advance of construction or by expensive on-site equipment that can take several people to operate.

“Our ST Impact Analyzer is much easier to use and more cost-effective,” Hanson said. “By using it on a regular basis, schools, city parks and others with playgrounds can keep track of their surfaces, making changes when necessary to minimize the risk of traumatic brain injuries.”

The company lists several municipalities and school districts among its clients as well as professional inspectors who use the device to serve multiple clients. Units also have been sold overseas in Australia, Southeast Asia and other parts of the world.

Originally located in suburban Chicago, Sonam Technologies relocated to the Purdue Research Park of Northwest Indiana a little more than a year ago.

“The Purdue Research Park is perfect for us. It has all the amenities we need,” Hanson said.

With the new patent in hand, the company is looking to expand its customer base and to pursue additional platforms for the technology.

“Our base technology is applicable in just about any platform where impact forces are measured,” Hanson said.

For more information about Sonam Technologies, go to

About Purdue Research Foundation

The Purdue Research Foundation is a private, nonprofit foundation created to advance the mission of Purdue University. Established in 1930, the foundation accepts gifts; administers trusts; funds scholarships and grants; acquires property; protects Purdue’s intellectual property; and promotes entrepreneurial activities on behalf of Purdue. The foundation manages the Purdue Foundry, Purdue Office of Technology Commercialization, Purdue Research Park and Purdue Technology Centers. The foundation received the 2016 Innovation and Economic Prosperity Universities Award for Innovation from the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities. For more information about funding and investment opportunities in startups based on a Purdue innovation, contact the Purdue Foundry at [email protected].

Writer: Curt Slyder, 765-588-3342, [email protected]

Sources: Chris Hanson, 844-887-6626, [email protected]

Mike Hanson, [email protected]

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Drop the Ball

The easy-to-use ST Impact Analyzer is used on playgrounds, sports fields, and anywhere there is a risk of a head impacting the ground, to identify the risk of a brain injury before it happens.

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Sonam Technologies, Inc.
9800 Connecticut Dr
Crown Point, IN 46307

Phone: 844-887-6626
E-Mail: [email protected]