Mark J. Rebilas-USA Today Sports

Friday’s Mashup: BYU researchers create ‘smartfoam’ football helmet to monitor concussions in real time

Lucy Burdge
September 22, 2017 - 8:23 am

Welcome to Friday’s Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our WEEI.com home page or click here for the top stories from our news wire.

FRIDAY’S BROADCAST HIGHLIGHTS:
MLB:
Boston at Cincinnati, 7:10 p.m. (NESN, WEEI)
MLB: Chicago Cubs at Milwaukee, 7:35 p.m. (ESPN)
MLB: Cleveland at Seattle, 10 p.m. (MLB Network)

AROUND THE WEB:

-- A Ph.D student and a team of researchers at Brigham Young University announced Thursday they have created a “smartfoam” nano composite football helmet that uses electrical signals to measure the impact of a hit.

The foam measures impact energy, impact velocity and acceleration with 90 percent accuracy and can send this information directly to a tablet for evaluation.

BYU mechanical engineering Ph.D. student, Jake Merrell, worked with the team and said this new smartfoam could replace and improve the current foam found in football helmets.

"The standard measurement systems on the market today directly measure the acceleration, but just measuring the acceleration is not enough and can even be erroneous," Merrell said. "Our XOnano smartfoam sensors measure much more than just acceleration, which we see as a vital key to better diagnose head injuries."

Here is a more detailed explanation of how the helmet works:

“When the foam is compressed, nickel nano-particles rub against the foam, creating static electric charge, similar to when you rub a balloon against your hair. That charge is then collected through a conductive electrode in the foam, measured by a microcomputer, and transmitted to a computer or smart device. A hard hit spikes the voltage, while small impacts result in a reduced spike in voltage.”

The team also created shoulder pads with this impact sensing technology.

This news came the same day Aaron Hernandez’s legal team announced the former Patriot had stage 3 CTE when he committed suicide in April. His fiancee is suing the Patriots and the NFL on behalf of the couple’s daughter for neglecting to inform Hernandez of the risks of playing football.

-- Gatorade is paying up after being sued by the state of California for an anti-water campaign created by the sports drink giant.

The company will pay $300,000 in fines to California.

In 2012, Gatorade launched an app called “Bolt!,” a game in which a Usain Bolt character runs around obstacles collecting Gatorade tokens to run faster. Water is the enemy in the game and is called the “enemy of performance.”

The game was downloaded by 2.3 million people and was promoted by Mike Tyson and Justin Bieber.

California attorney general, Xavier Becerra, argues the game violated California law by giving a misleading message to the public that water hinders athletic performance.

“Gatorade portrayed its products positively while inaccurately and negatively depicting water as hindering athletic performance,” reads a statement from Becerra’s office. “Making misleading statements is a violation of California law.”

The game has been taken out of the app store.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “Boston is a tough place to play. Some players thrive here, and some players don’t. Get a thicker skin. My feeling is, let the broadcasts be honest, be personable, informative, and get over it if you think a certain announcer took a shot at you.” -- Tom Werner, on players complaining about broadcasters criticizing them

 

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