Sports

Football helmet flexes like a car bumper to absorb impacts

Football helmet flexes like a ...
The Zero1 helmet has an outer shell that bends under pressure
The Zero1 helmet has an outer shell that bends under pressure
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The Zero1 helmet with a more aerodynamic face mask
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The Zero1 helmet with a more aerodynamic face mask
A look at the four layers that make up the Zero1 football helmet
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A look at the four layers that make up the Zero1 football helmet
The Zero1 helmet has an outer shell that bends under pressure
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The Zero1 helmet has an outer shell that bends under pressure

A collaboration between the University of Washington and helmet manufacturer VICIS has led to the development of the Zero1, a football helmet designed to absorb impact more effectively than designs currently in use. Featuring an outer shell that yields upon impact like a car bumper, the Zero1 helmet is expected to be available to select NFL and NCAA football teams this spring and be worn in the 2016-17 season.

The Zero1 creators designed the helmet with four different layers – the outer LODE Shell that gives way on impact then returns to its original form before the next hit; the Core Layer that slows the forces from both straightforward hits or glancing blows; and the ARCH Shell and FORM Liner that add both additional protection and a more customized fit that conforms the helmet to the head of the individual wearer.

A look at the four layers that make up the Zero1 football helmet
A look at the four layers that make up the Zero1 football helmet

Further customization is available through what the creators are calling the AXIS Fit System, that incorporates head length and breadth measurements rather than just head circumference.

Each Zero1 helmet will also feature a quick-release mechanism to allow for easier removal during an emergency without the use of special tools, and more aerodynamic facemasks to improve visibility.

VICIS says it took a team of neurosurgeons and engineers two years to develop the ZERO1, with input from equipment managers and athletic trainers incorporated into its design. Each helmet is expected to cost US$1,500 initially, with the price to be less for younger athletes as the helmet design becomes more refined.

In 2014, Riddell introduced the SpeedFlex helmet that featured a front panel that gave upon impact, along with a more flexible facemask designed to take some of the force of an impact, and an optional sensing system that could wirelessly notify sideline staff of a significant hit to a player's head.

The video below shows the VICIS Zero1 helmet in more detail.

Source: VICIS

VICIS ZERO1 UNVEIL

4 comments
socalboomer
very very cool! cool to see helmet technology, in any arena, moving forward. love to see the cycling helmet tech advancing as well.
bullrun
Agree - shocking that it has taken this long to come up with better technology. They have been using "crumple zones" in cars for years -- why not helmets?
HalSlater
Great idea but I am tired of videos that spend 2/3 of the time selling us on the need for a solution before telling us about their solution. Anyone with half a brain knows about the football head injury problem. More science, less drama, please.
PabloDuganheim
This is probably a good start for a problem that doesn't seem to have an easy fix. Hopefully the price will come down with time and manufacturing innovation or safety will price all but the deepest pocketed of pro organizations out of the market. This sort of innovation might also improve the overall safety of helmets in other areas too and that holds a lot of promise.