Crushable Helmets at the Superbowl?

Player concussion are a major issue and plague within professional American football leagues such as the NCAA and NFL. In response to the issue, Seattle-based VICIS has reinvented the traditional football helmet. Instead of focusing on a rigid materiality, like traditional helmets do, the company has taken a different material response with the use of a soft, deformable outer skin and a harder plastic core inside. Called the ZERO1, this new helmet performs much like a car bumper by crumpling, or giving to a degree, when hit. This serves to slow impact before it reacher the brain of the player.

According to VICIS, this new helmet features a four-layer construction, with the layers working together. The layers are as follows:

1. LODE Shell – Unlike today’s market-leading helmets that are limited by hard exterior shells, the outer shell of the
ZERO1 yields upon impact like a car bumper. During a collision, the LODE Shell gives way then rapidly returns to form
before the next impact. This dynamic process slows impact forces, completes in milliseconds, and is invisible to the naked
2. Core Layer – The ZERO1’s unique columnar layer is designed to absorb impacts from any direction, allowing it to slow
forces from straightforward collisions or glancing blows. The columnar geometry used in the CORE Layer is based upon
engineering principles first described in the 18th century by Swiss physicist, Leonhard Euler. The ZERO1’s columns have
been specifically tuned to optimally respond to impact velocities observed in elite levels of football.
3. ARCH Shell – This thin, hard inner shell is designed for both protection and fit. Its unique shape results from extensive
analysis of head-size data of NFL and NCAA players. Multiple ARCH Shell sizes facilitate an outstanding fit without the
uncomfortable pressure points found in today’s leading helmets.
4. FORM Liner – An interior comfort liner is designed to work in concert with the ARCH Shell to provide exceptional fit and
comfort. The FORM Liner features advanced memory foam that conforms to the unique head shape and topography of
each player. The liner is soft, waterproof, and easy to clean. Multiple liner sizes are available to enable a precise and
comfortable fit.

The helmet will be available to select NFL and NCAA football teams this spring and will be worn in competition during the 2016/17 season. And although too late for this year, it may even make its first debut at the Superbowl 51.