A consortium of four companies in montreal, and researchers from the École de technologie supérieure (ÉTS) have received a nice vote of confidence on the part of the NFL as part of NFL Helmet Challenge.
The band Kollide-ÉTS, formed of Kupol, to Shapeshift 3D, Numalogics and Tactix, is one of the four teams, the only one in Canada, to have received a scholarship from the part of the circuit Goodell on Tuesday to develop a prototype of their concept, is a helmet technology safer for the players.
As a result, it has almost a full year in order to develop the best helmet possible and present it to the finals of the NFL Helmet Challenge, in July 2021. The tour players Goodell could possibly wear a piece of technology entirely developed in Quebec, if Kollide-ÉTS has the last word.
“We are really delighted”, launched the project coordinator, Franck The Navéaux. “We had to go in the contest anyway because we believe we have something innovative, but to have their support allows us to do more research and development activities.”
“As a researcher, you always want to have the maximum impact. In that could work on a sport such as football, the sport where we find the most concussion [brain] currently, this is obviously an incredible opportunity,” said Eric Wagnac, a professor at the ÉTS, but also a researcher at the Hôpital du Sacré-Cœur-de-Montréal, as well as for this project.
“If we succeed in finding solutions for football, these solutions will certainly apply in other sports.”
The main idea is to put pads made of material that is 3D printed inside the helmet, unlike the protective cranial today that use of the foam. These pads will reduce the acceleration and force of the impact, or in other words, to reduce the shock absorbed by the head.
“It’s a bit like a nest of bees. […] These alveolar structures are complex which can absorb some of the impact, explained The Navéaux. We will design these structures for they come to deform exactly the way you want. It allows you to redirect the energy of the impact.”
In addition, the group wants to be able to create helmets that will be tailored to one’s head. Each player will receive a helmet perfectly cast with a single “scan”.
“Two players who suffer the same level of acceleration would not necessarily have the same result. One might have a concussion, and the other not, say, Eric Wagnac. There are several other factors that come into play, but if one is able to reduce the forces, the acceleration and the head that bends, it is obvious that it decreases the risk of concussion.”
Using the virtual
To ensure you get the best possible results, the consortium will use virtual simulations in order to perform its tests. This will allow them to try several different models of their concept.
The group also expects to conduct tests with physical models the performance. This step will take place in a new laboratory at ÉTS, which will allow to recreate an environment similar to the testing required for the final prototype, that is to say, 18 shocks at six different locations.
“We can’t do it all in virtual. The simulation, what it allows, is that, rather than testing three prototypes today, we can test 300 in the same time. It “boosts” the capacity for innovation.”
Even if the NFL Helmet Challenge, then, is primarily a contest of engineering, the consortium montreal has big plans for the headset, Kollide, including that of the large-scale production to sell it.
“Eventually, we hope, is that the technologies that will be implemented in this headset that will be used in the context of amateur sports,” said researcher Eric Wagnac, who adds that some sports such as hockey and cycling could also benefit from such a technology.
Moreover, the group of four montreal companies and researchers from ÉTS does not make it to the final of the competition with a product incomplete.
Throughout the process that will lead them to this conclusion, the team Kollide-ÉTS account unite his forces with those of several college football players so that they can give their impression of the helmet.
“It is sure to have a headset capable, that is, the goal of the NFL, but he needs a helmet to be accepted and loved by the players,” said the coordinator of the project, Franck The Navéaux. “If ever there was a helmet that works very well, but that is not beautiful, not pleasing, it will not be accepted and it will not be worn. This is not in our interest.”
The marketing of the product will not, however, begin before the end of the contest, in July 2021.