Written by IEEE | January 30, 2017
American football players are at risk for head injuries every time they head out on the field but advances in technology will hopefully make the game safer. Impacts with both the ground and other players can cause numerous concussions, and science is working hard to create gear that can protect heads and minimize damage.
One of the advances in tech for football players’ protection is the helmet. Newer helmet technology involves a polycarbonate shell, extensive padding, inflatable bladders, and a cutout on the crown that flexes upon impact. The biggest cause of concussion is when two helmets collide, and this helmet helps to minimize that impact.
Research is ongoing into the effects of concussions on players, and a professor at the University of Miami has created special goggles that are equipped with two high-resolution cameras that could detect the desynchronization of the wearer’s rapid eye movements—a sign of a concussion. The goggles offer researchers an opportunity to look deeper into when the injuries occur.
More tech is headed onto the field with robots created by Dartmouth engineering students. These robots, called Mobile Virtual Players (MVPs) stand just under six feet tall, weigh 190 pounds, and look like pillars of foam. They are for use during football practice where they can move down the field at 16 miles per hour and are managed by a remote control. Using the robots instead of another player for a tackling exercise eliminates the helmet on helmet crash scenario that causes so many concussions.