A team of engineers and scientists from Brigham Young University (BYU) has developed a nano composite smartfoam designed to replace the regular padding inside football helmets, and accurately measure impacts in real time.

The smartphone measures the impact of a hit during football play via electrical signals. The data is then collected in real time and sent wirelessly to the tablet or device carried by the coach or trainer on the sidelines. By studying the data, coaches can determine how hard a player was hit, and whether there should be concerns about a concussion and taking the player out of the game.

“The standard measurement systems on the market today directly measure the acceleration, but just measuring the acceleration is not enough and can even be erroneous,” says Jake Merrell, mechanical engineering PhD student at BYU, in a media release. “Our XOnano smartfoam sensors measure much more than just acceleration, which we see as a vital key to better diagnose head injuries.”

Merrell, along with researchers in the mechanical engineering, exercise science, and statistics departments at BYU, developed and tested the smartfoam.

The team suggests, in research published in the Annals of Biomedical Engineering, that the foam is designed to measure a composite of acceleration, impact energy and impact velocity to determine impact severity and location of impact, all with 90% accuracy.

To date, the team states in the release, no one—not even the NFL—has been able to successfully measure the impact energy and velocity of a collision, which are two data points necessary to accurately measure whether a player is at risk of a concussion or not.

[Source(s): Brigham Young University, Science Daily]

[Photo credit: Brigham Young University]