A Soft Approach to Helmet Safety

 

The ongoing struggle of style and comfort versus practicality and safety may have finally come to an end for those hitting the slopes. A new product developed by a team of researchers at Queensland University of Technology looks to combine the feel of a soft stocking cap hat with the protection of a helmet.

The hat/helmet features a soft layer of wool material on the outside, but beneath it is a unique blend of non-Newtonian materials. No, that’s not a comic-book term. It actually refers to a class of materials that change their composition when exposed to force.

Working in the exact opposite manner of something like ketchup or mayo, which gets thinner as you stir it, these materials actually stiffen and become harder in correlation to the amount of force exerted upon them. The materials start off feeling like soft rubber but harden upon impact. Dirt bike riders have used similar technologies for knee, elbow, and rib pads, but these haven’t yet proven capable of meeting the certifications required for helmets.

According to the developers, the new helmet meets these standards due to the way the materials are layered during production. In addition to skiing applications, the design team believes that these hardcore soft caps could be used for cycling or skating, as well as for individuals who suffer from medical conditions that make them more susceptible to falls.

The company making the headgear goes by the name Anti-Ordinary and hopes to launch a Kickstarter campaign in January to fund production later in the year.

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