A safer football helmet
A concept created by Kollide and ETS backed by a grant from the NFLWednesday, July 15, 2020
The Kollide-ÉTS team, consisting of a consortium of four Montreal-based businesses in collaboration with researchers from the École de technologie supérieure (ÉTS), is one of four recipients of grant funding from the National Football League (NFL) to participants of the NFL Helmet Challenge, an international competition held as part of the HeadHealthTECH program. The US$238,545 grant will enable the Kollide-ÉTS team to produce a prototype of its innovative concept for a football helmet that is safer than those currently available on the market. It should be noted that some 100 teams applied for this grant, while only four have received it.
The Kollide-ÉTS team will have until July 2021, when the NFL Helmet Challenge culminates, to make and submit its prototype. The NFL will conduct a series of impact tests on all the prototypes submitted and select the most effective helmet. This helmet shall set the new safety benchmarks for all future helmets worn by professional football players, and the winning team will receive one million dollars.
In response to this challenge, the Kollide consortium’s four constituent businesses as well as researchers Éric Wagnac and Yvan Petit, from ÉTS, will work on a design comprised of innovative pads produced through 3D printing and equipped with unique, patented three-dimensional structures that absorb and redirect impact. The team’s expertise in virtual design will make it possible to customize the shape of these pads to each player’s head based on a simple 3D scan, for an optimal fit. From a design standpoint, the team will rely on digital simulation to optimize the helmet’s effectiveness and to virtually test a very large number of designs without needing to produce physical prototypes. An innovative, multidisciplinary approach based on an open-innovation ecosystem (also known as a living lab) will also be employed in order to integrate into the creative process future pro football players, coaches, equipment managers, neuropsychologists, sports therapists and other stakeholders in the development of an improved football helmet.
“We are very proud to have the support of the NFL in the development of the Kollide football helmet. It is a unique opportunity to expand our research and development activities and to produce a greater number of prototypes, but above all, to better protect players on the field,” explains Franck Le Navéaux, the project’s coordinator. As well, the team can count on financial support from the Ministère de l’Économie et de l’Innovation du Québec, which provided a grant through the MEDTEQ+ consortium for innovation in health technologies.
“As a researcher, it is always fulfilling to have one’s ideas met with enthusiasm by industry. In this case, you can imagine just how proud we are: four private-sector partners agreed to embark on this adventure, along with a public-sector partner and a sports organization,” adds ÉTS researcher Éric Wagnac.
“We are delighted that Kollide’s project has been selected as part of the NFL Helmet Challenge, which will help considerably reduce the risk of concussion among players. Innovation in the field of health is possible, notably, through advancements in risk prevention. This is why we chose to fund this project,” explains Diane Côté, president and CEO of MEDTEQ+.
A safety issue of major concern for the NFL
It bears remembering that some 46,000 sports-related concussions are diagnosed each year in Canada, with the number of cases in the United States at 3.8 million. Football is the sport that results in the most concussions. This has been a safety issue of major concern for the NFL since the 90s, a decade during which the league experienced a wave of early retirements among its players, many of whom were diagnosed with chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a degenerative brain disease caused by repetitive blows to the head.
Tactix is a Montreal-based industrial design firm with a long track record in the development of high-performance equipment for sport, health and safety.
Numalogics is developing a unique laboratory for virtual tests that evaluate the biomechanical interactions between humans and their equipment or devices, in the fields of health, sport and defence. Its digital simulation approach will help optimize the effectiveness of the Kollide helmet for realistic game conditions.
Shapeshift 3D provides software that automatically adjusts medical, protective or sports products to each individual’s 3D scan.
Kupol (https://www.kupol.ca) was the first company to design a cycling helmet that is fully 3D printed. A unique lattice structure enhances the helmet’s safety benefits.
À propos de MEDTEQ+
MEDTEQ+ a pour mission d’accélérer le développement de solutions technologiques innovantes afin d’améliorer l’état de santé et la qualité de vie des patients. MEDTEQ+ soutient la validation de ces technologies, leur intégration dans le réseau de la santé ainsi que leur rayonnement tant local qu’international en réunissant les compétences complémentaires de partenaires industriels et institutionnels et celles des fournisseurs de soins de santé. MEDTEQ+ compte sur le soutien financier du gouvernement du Québec, du gouvernement du Canada (par le programme des Centres d’Excellence en Commercialisation et en Recherche (CECR)), du secteur privé et de partenaires complémentaires pour favoriser les relations recherche-industrie.
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