Riddell Uses 3D Scanning for New, Safer NFL Football Helmets

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Playing sports can lead to some true highs. Whether you are into tennis, golf, or more team-oriented sports like football, it’s a great feeling to finish up a game after exerting yourself physically, enjoying fresh air—and perhaps even winning! The flip side to all this fun, however, is that as sports enthusiasts we often take risks and push ourselves over the edge in the heat of competition.

In a game like football, it’s a well-known fact that serious injuries are possible. While many parents watch and applaud from the stands as their kids ‘go out for the team,’ most of them are also cringing inside with worry about sprains, broken limbs—and worst of all—a head injury. A concussion is one thing, and bad enough, but the threat of something severe like traumatic brain injury is always a concern too as it can cause serious, long-term consequences.

[Image: Riddell]

Companies like Riddell are constantly looking for ways to refine their safety gear—mainly in the form of football helmets. Now, they’ve come up with a new design for preventing TBIs further, and the secret is in personalization for players. Using 3D scanners, Riddell will be able to create player-specific helmets, beginning with players wearing the Precision Fit headgear. Each helmet will offer customized fit and will be constructed of ‘energy managing materials.’

For football players, being hit on the head on the field can offer the same type of impact and damage others experience in a bad car accident. That’s certainly worth avoiding at all costs, and obviously those participating in such a sport should be motivated to reach out for any new product offering further safety. Touted as the future of headgear with ‘the perfect fitting helmet,’ the Precision Fit helmets will be available for NFL football players this upcoming season. And lest you think this is a whimsical new product—keep in mind that Riddell has been perfecting this new process, and helmet, for four years now. They’ve also had the new helmets in testing at the collegiate level.

[Image: Lili Sams/Mashable]

Although players usually don’t receive their new individualized helmets for at least four weeks, the 3D head scans for making the helmets are actually completed in about five minutes. Riddell technicians are trained to scan players, gaining a comprehensive, 360-degree image of each player’s head. Data is then transmitted through a tablet to Riddell’s own software. The data is then used to make eight-pad custom linings which are composed of a high-performance, composite polyurethane. The liners are meant to act almost like memory foam material around the players’ heads.

[Image: Riddell]

While there’s no word yet on how much these personalized helmets will cost, they are expected to last each player for their entire career. According to Riddell, just as other helmets are reconditioned every year, these innovative new helmets would be as well, continuing to offer superior protective care.

“Scaleability and affordability are important to us on this platform,” said Thad Ide, Riddell’s Senior Vice President of Research and Product Development. “We’re rolling it out for large colleges and professional teams, but as we scale it I can see this becoming an affordable option for high schools, junior highs, youth programs — these are all things we’re working on.”

“Riddell invested more than 10 years ago in head impact monitoring and helmet-based sensor technology that can transmit impact data from the field to the sideline,” he said. “We’ve collected about five million impacts, and we have enough of a database now that you can really see differences in impact profiles. We think we’re at the point where we can tune helmets to be optimized for playing position, skill level, because players see different types of impact profiles depending on those factors.”

Riddell also expects that helmets with sensors and other high-tech safety options will be rolled out in the next five years—not only offering better safety but also giving personalized information about players’ habits on the fields, allowing for improved protection. Discuss in the Riddell forum at 3DPB.com.

[Source: Mashable]

 

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