As football-related concussions have been top of mind in recent years, a team of American researchers has developed and tested a nano composite smartfoam that can be placed inside a football helmet (and pads) to more accurately test the impact and power of hits.
Developed by a research team from Brigham Young University in the state of Utah, the foam measures the impact of a hit via electrical signals. The data is collected in real time and sent wirelessly to the tablet of a coach or trainer on the sidelines. A coach can know within seconds how hard a player has been hit and whether or not they should be concerned about a concussion.
When the player has a concussion, the foam compresses, and nickel nano-particles rub against the foam, creating a static electric charge. That charge is then collected through a conductive electrode in the foam measured by a microcomputer, and transmitted to a computer or smart device.
The Science Daily website reported Jake Merrell, a mechanical engineering Ph.D. student at Brigham Young University, saying that: “The standard measurement systems on the market today directly measure the acceleration, but just measuring the acceleration is not enough and can even be wrong,” “Our X-Onano smart foam sensors measure much more than just acceleration, which we see as a vital key to better diagnose head injuries,” he added.
The foam, which replaces the standard helmet foam, measures a composite of acceleration, impact energy and impact velocity to determine impact severity and location of impact, all with 90% accuracy, according to Merrell.