When folks zip down icy, snow-covered mountains at warp speed, it’s only natural that some (OK, most) of those people are going to take a fall. That’s why skiing and snowboarding, while fun, can also be pretty dangerous. Students at Northeastern University aim to make winter sports safer through a new helmet that protects wearers’ heads and monitors injuries.
Students Cyril Blank, Matthew Jamula, Diego Nevado, Ross Parker, Tadas Vaisvila and their professor, Sinan Muftu, developed the helmet, called the Head Impact Detection and Alert System. The designers also collaborated with emergency medical technicians and X-ray specialists. The team designed a traditional ski/snowboard helmet lined with sensors that measure acceleration. An accompanying LCD screen displayed colors whenever the helmet experienced an impact. If the impact was mild, the screen would display a green color. If the impact was severe, the screen would display red.
The helmet is still in its protoype stages, but once it’s completely up-and-working, researchers say the device could be worn by skiers and snowboarders on the mountain. If the wearer suffered a head injury, the helmet would immediately gauge the severity of the accident and alert first responders.
The helmet could serve as an important innovation because of the complex nature of head injuries. Though many folks knock their heads while skiing or engaging in other sports, not everyone seeks medical attention for these seemingly mild injuries. According to the Northeastern team’s research, if seemingly mild head injuries are left untreated, they can actually become more serious than a concussion. A device like this helmet could ensure that folks receive the necessary medical attention.
Besides skiers and snowboarders, the design team says a device like this could also be useful for athletes and soldiers on the battlefield.