First Look: Sensor-Equipped Snowsports Helmet Alerts User When It's Worn Out

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A multi-impact ski helmet made of EPP (Expanded Polypropylene) recovers its shape and most of its impact protection after a crash. It can withstand numerous impacts before replacement. The trick is knowing when it’s worn out.

Internal damage to the helmet may not be visible to the user even if the helmet is compromised.

The to-be-released Skull Orbic H.I. MIPS helmet by POC integrates a “Helmet Integrity Sensor” into a high-end race helmet.

The device allows athletes to check the integrity of their EPP multi-impact helmets by pressing a button on the back that will either turn a light red or green.

The integrity of the helmet is determined by a system of stress-strain sensors distributed over the liner that record, collect and memorize any deformation.

Its price tag, $480, is hundreds more than comparable models, though the sensors could be worth it for anyone serious about protecting their brain.

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Pushing a button lights up an indicator on the The POC Skull Orbic H.I. MIPS; photo by Sean McCoy

I had a chance to check out a pre-production model of the helmet at the SIA Snow Show in Denver. I pushed the small button the back of the helmet and it immediately glowed green, meaning it was ready for use.

If one or a combination of impacts exceed a pre-defined level, the indicator light turns from green to red. It then needs to be replaced.

The helmet is also equipped with the MIPS system to help reduce rotational forces on the brain in the event of a crash. This will be the second generation Orbic, which was designed with a “deflector panel” on the front of the helmet designed to reduce the trauma caused when athletes contact race gates in training and racing.

The Skull Orbic H.I. MIPS retails for $480 and hits the market in fall 2014. —Sean McCoy

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The POC Skull Orbic H.I. MIPS; photo by Sean McCoy

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