company project has won a $500,000 grant in the NFL's third Head Health Challenge.
A collaborative team of materials designers led by Dynamic Research Inc., of Torrance, California, partnering with 6D Helmets, of Brea, California, was chosen by the NFL, GE, the U.S. Commerce Department's National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), and Under Armour.
The goal of the third challenge was to accelerate the discovery, design and development of advanced materials that better absorb or dissipate impact.
"I congratulate the winning team and the Head Health Challenge III partners for looking for technological solutions to this important national problem," Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said.
"The new materials developed through this competition will have broad applications, protecting everyone from students to athletes to soldiers."
Dynamic Research specializes in areas such as vehicle safety and biomechanics, including the study of impacts on the human body, while 6D Helmets has developed the Omni-Directional Suspension, a head-protection technology first commercialized for action sports, with use in motorcycle and bicycle helmets.
The novel structure of the winning material is based on 6D Helmet technology that includes a middle layer of absorbent posts sandwiched between foam that helps reduces shear forces — impacts that happen at an angle rather than straight on. The material reduced certain measures of impact by more than 70 percent when compared with baseline foam material that has been commonly used in protective gear.
That concept can be fine-tuned to a variety of impact environments and adapted to different body types and applications.
The $500,000 is to be used by the winners to invest in more research and further product development.
"With this challenge, we set out with NIST, GE and Under Armour to identify the smartest, most innovative ideas from materials scientists and engineers around the world," said Jeff Miller, NFL executive vice president of health and safety initiatives, "support these concepts with feedback and mentorship and accelerate them to the marketplace. The protective material system created by Dynamic Research and 6D Helmets is infused with data and good science and has real potential applications to improve the safety of our players both at the NFL and all levels of football."
Throughout the three Head Health Challenges, more than 1,000 applicants submitted ideas. Previous winners included Quanterix's simple blood test to aid in the detection of traumatic brain injury; BrainScope's portable concussion assessment system; the VICIS Zero1 Helmet; and Viconic's under layer for synthetic turf systems.