Intelligent Energy

Starring in Super Bowl 46: An LED chin strap

Starring in Super Bowl 46: An LED chin strap

Posting in Architecture

New England running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis will button up his helmet with green lights that flash red when the New York Giants hit hard. It's supposed to alert staff he could get hurt. Duh!

BenJarvus Green-Ellis of the New England Patriots. At this Sunday's little football game, he'll be BenJarvus Green-Chinstrap, and he'll literally get the red light if the New York Giants hit him hard. 

Here at SmartPlanet, we often chronicle the ongoing saga of light emitting diodes, with an eye on their potential to slash the world's energy consumption and to transform architecture, health, construction, fashion, design and electronics.

One thing that constantly grabs our attention is how LEDs are popping up in all sorts of new applications.

Case in point: At this Sunday's Super Bowl, New England running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis will button up his helmet with a chin strap stitched with a green LED that flashes red when the New York Giants hit him hard, according to Comcast SportsNet's PatriotTalk page. This is supposed to alert coaches and medical staff that their players are thumping each other so ferociously that they might get hurt -- maybe even suffer a concussion.

Duh!!!

If it takes a blinking chip to make that call, then maybe coaches and medical staff themselves have suffered enough hits to the head to render their judgments questionable. But there are plenty of smart people on the sidelines across all of the National Football League (the Pittsburgh Steelers' Mike Tomlin for one is a brilliant coach, but I digress, as I will again a few paragraphs down, exposing my sports biases).

Nice public relations for LEDs, but that's about it. Let's not rely on gimmickry to make important decisions about player safety.

Or maybe there's more to the technology than meets the eye. The strap comes from Battle Sports Science, which calls it an "impact indicator."

It could have been disastrous PR if the Patriots had gone ahead with an earlier plan.  Word has it that the team decided not to use the device in the game they lost to the Steelers earlier this year, because a whack from the rough-and-tough linebacker James Harrison might have actually broken the diode, disproving already questionable vendor claims that LEDs last for 25 years.

Wait until next year.

Photo from boston.cbslocal.com

A sampler of SmartPlanet chapters from the LED epic (there are many more, including by this author):

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Mark Halper

Contributing Editor

Mark Halper has written for TIME, Fortune, Financial Times, the UK's Independent on Sunday, Forbes, New York Times, Wired, Variety and The Guardian. He is based in Bristol, U.K. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure