Wednesday, August 4, 2010

A Beautiful Bulwark

A lot of recent attention has been paid to the concussion risks inherent in football. And just a week ago, the NFL issued -- for the first time -- a warning to its players about the dangers of football-related head injuries, including "depression" and "dementia."

In response, designer Michael Princip created the "Bulwark," a prototype helmet that offers extra protection against collision-induced head injuries. It   "features internal padding, much like current helmets covered by a solid shell. But the true innovation lies on top of that shell: a shock-absorbing layer of pre-molded foam. 'It’s like an industrial-grade bubble wrap,' according to Princip. That padding layer would then be covered by four separate sections that comprise the outer shell."
Despite his practical safety upgrades, Princip does acknowledge that the Bulwark won’t fare well in the marketplace if it isn’t stylish as well. “Players aren’t going to wear it if it doesn’t look good,” he says.
To that end, Princip has turned his eye to the past, studying images of old-school cranial wear for inspiration. He derives his current design from previous-era MacGregor helmets as well as rugby helmets. “I was looking back and seeing these light-weight helmets,” he says, “and it inspired me to think of a modern-day version.”
The Bulwark also incorporates design cues from more recent helmet designs, including the extended jaw plates that protect players from hits to the face, like on the Riddell Revolution Speed helmet worn by the likes of Colts quarterback Peyton Manning.
If only all safety gear was this beautifully designed.