As we enter the latter half of 2017, it’s become increasingly apparent that we are living in a unique era in the spectrum of modern history, or as Thomas Friedman so eloquently defines it, “The Age of Accelerations”. In the three-time Pulitzer Prize winner’s most recent publication, titled “Thank You For Being Late: An Optimist’s Guide to Thriving in the Age of Accelerations”, Friedman puts into perspective just how fast the advances in technology are occurring today and how significant of an impact these breakthroughs are driving on the global scale.
At the forefront of these technological breakthroughs is the increased interconnectivity of sensors and computing devices all over the world, which has come to be more commonly described as the Internet of Things (typically denoted as “IoT”). With the ability to 1) monitor activity, 2) track, store & share information about that activity and then 3) put that information to work behind the power of ‘Big Data’ and advanced analytics, groundbreaking insights can be discovered at a rate no one would’ve deemed possible as recently as a decade ago.
And while the sprawling influence of IoT is impacting business sectors all over the globe, the sports health technology and sports risk management industries have been particularly disrupted. The purpose of this article, which is just one part of a series of articles, is to highlight the “latest and greatest” technological breakthroughs in the world of sports health management. In subsequent posts in the future, we will continue to scan the IoT marketplace, with a specific focus on sports health technology and risk management applications, to keep you current with the most up-to-date tech discoveries in the world of sports health. Just note that what is captured below – and what will be captured in future posts – is only the tip of the iceberg of all innovative solutions the can be found on the market today:
High-Tech Football Helmets:
The two premier helmet manufacturing brands in football, Riddell and Schutt, are makers of roughly 90% of all helmets worn in the NFL today, but new ‘up-and-comers’ (e.g. Vicis) are beginning to challenge to the two market incumbents. In a race to offer out the most cutting-edge technology and intricate design, every helmet maker is rolling out the big guns for the 2017-18 football season (read more here):
- ‘Precision Fit’ Process: Leveraging the emerging technology of 3D printing, Riddell’s ‘Precision Fit’ process constructs helmets which are customized to each individual player’s head and neck. This design also improves vision coverage, allowing players to see more of the field at all times by reducing ‘blind spots’. (read more here)
- ‘InSite’ Impact Response System: By embedding sensors into each helmet, alerts can be sent to on-the-field medical staff or supervisors whenever a major impact occurs in a game or in practice. The system also houses data of each player’s track record of historical head-related impacts.
- ‘Tektonic’ helmet plates: In Schutt’s new ‘F7’ helmet design, protective cushioning plates are installed independently of the core outer helmet shell. With these ‘Tektonic’ plates able to move independently, instead of in the same direction of the shell more energy is able to be absorbed upon impact, which reduces the force placed on the head and neck during a collision.
- ‘Zero1 Helmet’: These “new kids on the block” are already making waves for the two established players in the sports health technology market. Vicis’ ‘Zero1’ helmet recently earned the top ranking in the 2017 NFL/NFLPA tests. They partnered with renowned sunglass maker ‘Oakley’ to design a vision shield specifically tailored for the optics of football. In addition, Vicis incepted the idea of putting a flexible polymer on the outside of player’s helmets, which allows the helmet to ‘deform’ on impact – similar to that a car bumper – to soften the blow of each collision on the head.