Safer helmets for motorcyclists

A next-generation motorcycle helmet has been launched that uses technology developed by a British medic and is engineered by Industrial Design Consultancy (IDC).

Rotational head injury is currently seen as the greatest cause of brain damage or death for motorcyclists involved in road accidents.

The new helmet, dubbed SuperSkin, tackles this by mimicking the skull and skin of the human head.

Tests show that the SuperSkin product design reduces rotational impact by 50 per cent and the subsequent possibility of brain damage by 67.5 per cent.

‘Traditionally, motorcycle helmets have been rigid in design,’ said IDC’s managing director Stephen Knowles. ‘We needed to introduce a dynamic element of movement to dramatically reduce the rotational impact that often causes life-threatening injuries.

‘On impact, the outer membrane is able to stretch and slide over the main helmet shell to prevent these dangerous rotational forces being transmitted to the head and brain.

‘Without breaking from the standard helmet shell, we developed a product design that was optimised for manufacture and rigorous international testing. The end result has provided a first for the motorcycle industry.’

The product design required careful selection of materials. A strong synthetic sits on top of the gel-like lubricant to form a protective layer across the surface of the helmet. Vacuum casting was used to create prototypes and the materials tested for resistance and strength. The chosen synthetic stretched up to eight times its original length.

SuperSkin’s inventor, Dr Ken Phillips of Phillips Helmets, tasked IDC with turning the idea into a workable product design.

IDC is currently working with Dr Phillips to develop other applications of the technology and an equestrian version is currently under test.