A segment about Alex Smith’s helmet during NBC’s broadcast of the NFL’s season-opener between the Kansas City Chiefs and the New England Patriots caught my eye last week, and The Washington Post had more on it this week.
Turns out he wasn’t the only player wearing the new helmet from VICIS called the Zero1 that is designed to mitigate the impact of hits to the head.
The Post reports Smith and Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson were among about 70 players who donned the new lid, “the product of a Seattle start-up that might look like the traditional football helmet from afar but has a completely different design just beneath its exterior shell.”
The helmet incorporates engineering principles more commonly seen in the automotive field. The outer shell is softer and more pliable, made from flexible thermoplastic. Beneath it is a layer of more than 500 small columns, each measuring an inch or so long, which absorb force and also twist and move laterally, lessening the impact of rotational acceleration, a major concussion culprit.
VICIS CEO Dave Marver compared the technology to modern bumpers on cars.
“Think of the current helmets like old cars, all made of steel,” said Dave Marver, the VICIS CEO. “They get in a collision, and they're rigid. The passenger continues to move forward. Today's cars, though, have bumpers that crumple, that slow acceleration before they reach the passenger compartment.”
This is a very interesting concept, and I’m excited to see what kinds of results it produces.
Here’s a look at the inside of the helmet: