High-rate systems operating in the 10 μs to 10 ms timescale are likely to experience damaging effects due to rapid environmental changes (e.g., turbulence, ballistic impact). Some of these systems could benefit from real-time state estimation to enable their full potential. Examples of such systems include blast mitigation strategies, automotive airbag technologies, and hypersonic vehicles. Particular challenges in high-rate state estimation include: 1) complex time varying nonlinearities of system (e.g. noise, uncertainty, and disturbance); 2) rapid environmental changes; 3) requirement of high convergence rate. Here, we propose using a Variable Input Observer (VIO) concept to vary the input space as the event unfolds. When systems experience high-rate dynamics, rapid changes in the system occur. To investigate the VIO’s potential, a VIO-based neuro-observer is constructed and studied using experimental data collected from a laboratory impact test. Results demonstrate that the input space is unique to different impact conditions, and that adjusting the input space throughout the dynamic event produces better estimations than using a traditional fixed input space strategy.