Category Archives: Safety and Regulation

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New Collapsible Bike Helmet Shatters Fundraising Goal

Three years ago, Rachel Hall was hit by a car as she was riding through the Park and Diamond intersection near Temple University in Philadelphia. The driver didn’t stop. She wasn’t wearing a helmet. She ended up in a coma for four months.
Her brother David and his friend Jordan Klein, then both engineering undergraduates at Virginia Tech, reacted to Rachel’s accident by setting out to figure out why people don’t always wear helmets, and trying to solve that problem. Now they are shattering fundraising targets on Indiegogo as they accept pre-orders for a collapsible helmet that looks something like a baseball cap.
As of Thursday morning, their company, Park & Diamond, had raised more than $530,000, easily meeting its $50,000 fixed goal just a week into the month-long campaign. Pre-orders are expected to be completed by the first quarter of 2019. (Rachel is a long way along in her recovery, and now jokes that she should get a cut of the success.)
“She wasn’t wearing a helmet, and the question was why wasn’t she wearing a helmet?” Hall said. “We asked that question when she was in the intensive care unit, and after.”
Hall and Klein are driven by this statistic: 97 percent of cyclists who died in accidents in New York City in 2005 weren’t wearing helmets. While Rachel survived, they realized how fatal the decision not to wear a helmet could be. They sat down one day and thought “We have to do something about this.”
Hall and Klein won a series of startup competitions while at Virginia Tech, and then received a seed funding round that allowed them to hire their first employees: a former SpaceX engineer and a CBS employee who could lead marketing.

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They have conducted thousands of rider interviews so far. The reasons for why people opted not to wear helmets quickly surfaced. Notably, the people they talked to didn’t feel existing bike helmets were comfortable, aesthetically pleasing, or portable.
Hall and Klein figured they could address the aesthetic problem by outfitting helmets with removable covers that made them appear more like baseball caps. But addressing the portability issue meant figuring out a way to collapse the helmet itself.
Most bike helmets today used a foamed polymer liner, typically a denser version of the expanded polystyrene used in foam cups and coolers. EPS is bulky and hard, incapable of being rolled up or folded. A collapsible helmet couldn’t be built from EPS, so Hall and Klein developed their own proprietary composite material that they say also works as well or better in terms of protection than existing helmets on the market today.
“It’s our secret sauce that allows the whole helmet to work,” Hall said. “Our focus was how do we make a material with less volume that could take as much or more energy. Our helmet uses something completely different. The material is rigid, so at end of day what’s standing between you and what you’re about to impact is rigid and can absorb the energy.”
Unlike traditional foam helmets that might bounce and crack on impact, Park & Diamond claims its helmet shell does not bounce because it’s designed to immediately absorb and dissipate energy. At just eight ounces in weight, the helmet is light, portable in that it can collapse to the size of a water bottle, yet still adequately disperses the energy of a blow to the head. The exterior covers are removable and washable, so Park & Diamond is planning to even enable personalization of designs.
The company already has a number of patents and trademarks and is currently working to meet required U.S. and E.U. helmet regulations. While the first iteration will only be available in adult sizes, Park & Diamond has already surpassed all current U.S. CPSC Children’s Product Certificate standards. Further into the future, it plans to expand into other sports, such as skiing and snowboarding.


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Mammut Launches MIPS Climbing Helmet to Protect Against Rotational Impacts

Outdoor equipment maker Mammut has launched a new climbing helmet that incorporates the multi-directional impact protection system, which is designed to reduce rotational forces during impact.
While there are a number of MIPS helmets on the market today, including bike and ski helmets that climbers have adapted to their sport, Swiss-based Mammut said its Wall Rider MIPS is the world’s first MIPS-integrated helmet targeted specifically at climbing.
“As one of the oldest and most respected outdoors brands in the world, Mammut has not forgotten its history as inventor of the climbing rope, revolutionizing the way that outdoors-people perform and achieve goals and successes through the centuries, and today,” the company said in a statement.

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MIPS is a patented technology located inside helmets that is designed to reduce rotational forces caused by certain impacts, in this case such as tumbling rocks or falls. Rotational acceleration has been found to be the predominant injury mechanism in concussion. The MIPS system consists of an internal layer flexibly attached to the external part of the helmet. When the Wall Rider MIPS is subjected to an angled impact, the external part of the helmet can then slide slightly relative to the head. A portion of the rotational forces and energies are therefore redirected and absorbed rather than being transferred to the brain.
Andres Lietha, head of hardware at Mammut Sports, said many of the company’s developers and product managers are climbers and mountain bikers.
“So we started to ask us the obvious question, how can we add the safety MIPS offers to climbers also?” he said in the press release. “We did in-depth research and found data showcasing that a significant part of head injuries in climbing also result from a rotational impact.”
The new Wall Rider, which clocks in at just 225 grams (0.5 pounds), will be available at Backcountry.com and Mammut.com starting on Oct. 4 for $179, followed by a launch at retailers nationwide on Feb. 1.
SportTechie Takeaway
MIPS is making its way through helmets involved in a host of sports and recreational activities (including bicycle helmets and ski helmets) amid the increased attention on traumatic brain injuries caused by inadequate head protection. A number of companies are investing heavily in helmet technology and developing proprietary materials and absorption technologies to try to mitigate the problem. Beyond MIPS, the National Football League has been leading the charge among the professional sports leagues by conducting studies on football-related head trauma and hosting startup challenges to crowdsource solutions. The MIPS tech addresses a specific kind of rotational impact that caters to falls off walls, bikes, or snow equipment.


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