Whether you call them beanies, tuques or simply wool hats, a lot of downhill skiers take the risk of wearing the things instead of helmets, as they're so much more comfortable. Well, that's why the ANTI Ordinary A1 was created. It's usually soft and pliable, but hardens to protect the head upon impact.

The A1 was developed by biomedical engineer Rob Joseph and product engineer Brodie Robinson, both students at Australia's Queensland University of Technology. It has an inner layer composed of 70 to 90 percent Merino wool, combined with a 100-percent acrylic outer layer – the former is moisture-wicking and non-allergenic, while the latter allows for strength, washability and durability.

Sandwiched between the two layers is a proprietary blend of non-Newtonian fluids. These are composed of particles that slide past one another easily when moving slowly, but jam against each other when forced to move quickly. As a result, the material is soft and liquid-like when left alone, but instantly becomes much more viscous – to the point that it actually hardens – when subjected to stress.

The finished product should reportedly exceed ASTM F2040 and EN1077 safety standards, while being 23 mm thick. It will weigh about 750 grams (1.7 lb), which is in fact a little heavier than most conventional ski helmets. That said, we're told that the weight is less noticeable due to the fact that it's distributed more evenly around the head.

Plans call for the A1 to be the subject of a Kickstarter campaign beginning Jan. 14th. Assuming the helmet reaches production, early backers can get one for a pledge of AUD$165 (about US$119). If you're interested, you can pre-register to be a backer via the link below.

Down the road, Joseph and Robinson hope to adapt the technology for use in medical products such as headwear for people who are at risk of falls. And there are, incidentally, already devices such as hip and knee pads that use non-Newtonian fluids to protect extreme athletes when they wipe out.

View gallery - 2 images