Brigham Young University researchers have developed a “smart foam” helmet lining for immediate, real-time measurements of each hit that a football player endures. The measurements are communicated immediately to a hand-held device, telling coaches if a collision is capable of inducing a concussion, even if the player denies a problem.
“ExoNanoFoam” is a nano-enabled foam that behaves as a piezoelectric in which pressure on the material produces an electrical voltage. A microcontroller sensor in the helmet reads the electrical voltage produced by the foam, and sends a signal to a tablet equipped with a program that interprets it and delivers real-time information on the seriousness of the hit sustained by the player.
As the foam is in contact with the player’s head, it provides a more accurate measurement of the forces on the player’s head than previously used accelerometers. Accelemeters only measure the acceleration or deceleration of the player’s helmet.