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A smart helmet design that cushions you from concussion

Posting in Architecture

A new motorcycle helmet aims to eliminate some of the most common brain injuries suffered by riders.

Styrofoam, a plastic shell and your own head are the only things separating your brain from the curb if you have an accident. It's a standard setup which most helmet designers use, but arguably does not go far enough -- as concussions are still one of the most common injuries bikers suffer in an accident.

What makes 6D Helmet's new products different are the dual-layers designed to protect a rider's head from a broader range of impact energy than standard helmets -- in particular, low–threshold energy impacts. A standard helmet is certainly useful in high-speed collisions, but the "Omni-Directional Suspension System" (ODS) is aimed at keeping motocross bikers safer in accidents involving less than 10mph of force.

In other words, the design aims to combat slow-speed knocks that can leave a rider dizzy and impact their performance, rather than simply focusing on high-speed and more dangerous collisions between a racer and their environment. 6D says that the helmets have been "engineered to provide active free-motion capability within the helmet’s protective liner and exceed current required helmet standards."

The California-based team, made up of former professional motocrossers Bob Weber and Robert Reisinger, say that for a 4.5mph impact, a standard helmet will pass on approximately 79g of force to a rider's head, whereas their new system will only hit with 49g of force.

The ODS system begins with a traditional EPS liner which pads the helmet. However, the EPS liner is separated by an array of elastomeric isolation dampers which create an air-gap between the two layers of styrofoam. Combined with an "hourglass shaped" array, the lining is able to produce a "rapidly escalating spring rate under compressive load." This further cushions a racer from a collision, as energy will dissipate more evenly around a rider's head.

Being a little dizzy may not seem like such a big deal, but for riders, the smallest knock can have a high cost. According to 6D, low-threshold impact energy is the main cause of concussion and second impact syndrome, a condition where brain matter swells rapidly -- and a second blow, no matter whether immediately or weeks later, could be fatal.

The motocross helmet models will go on sale in February next year.

Image credit: 6D Helmets

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— By on December 14, 2012, 2:59 AM PST

Charlie Osborne

Contributing Editor

Charlie Osborne is a freelance journalist and photographer based in London. In addition to SmartPlanet, she also writes for business technology website ZDNet and consumer technology site CNET. She holds a degree in medical anthropology from the University of Kent. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure