Great link, jeffbiss. I think we're at the starting point of a long-term trend here. Ultimately, the supporting data will reach a point where it can't be ignored. It may take decades, but eventually we'll see some of these contact sports being dropped by high schools and colleges.
Jack: As you mentioned, I think the idea of those air cushions has been to make the helmet fit tighter around the head. Would they provide better cushioning against concussion than a helmet that selectively turns on certain air cushions in sequence? I wish I knew. It will be interesting to watch the development of this technology to see if it offers a substantial advantage.
Charles, I don't have any references here to back me up, but I do think that ther are helmets available that can be pumped up, although I'm not sure if this was as much of a cushioning thing or a design to improve the fit for an individual player. I seem to remember a nameless retired-unretired-retired... Packer having one of those a number of years ago.
It's nice to see someone working on this issue. Now whether or not this is a practical solution is another matter. We'll see how it evolves. I'm thinking this is akin in some ways to the automotive crash problem, for which the solution is more than just adding airbags. If you think about it, the car has a "cage" that encloses the passenger, restraint devices, collapsible zones to absorb the shock and airbags. Maybe a more comprehensive helmet design is called for that incorporates these concepts.
I may be wrong about this, William_K, but I believe there are helmets out there that use air as a cushion. I don't know if they can be pumped up, but I do know that basketball shoes have pneumatic bladders that can be pumped up by pressing on the shoe's tongue.
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Biomimicry has already found its way into the development of robots and new materials, with researchers studying animals and nature to come up with new innovations. Now thanks to researchers in Boston, biomimicry could even inform the future of electrical networks for next-generation displays.
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