Monday, March 17, 2008

The Cone-head helmet.

Don Morgan shows his cones to TV host James O'Loghlin

Via the brisbane times:
"Visiting fatal accident scenes involving motorcycles and bicycles helped a Brisbane physicist develop a revolutionary helmet that has the potential to reduce brain injury or death.

The invention, known as Cone-Head, took out the Invention of the Year award last night on Brisbane's ABC TV's The New Inventors. Don Morgan, from Yeronga, said he was "greatly honoured" to win the top prize for an invention he has been working on since the mid-1980s.

The unique helmet has a cone-shaped lining that allows greater absorption of the impact in an accident. "It's in five segments, and the reason for that is to take into account the different strengths or thicknesses of the skull," Mr Morgan said.

"For example, softer foam needs to be around vital areas of the skull like the temple region, and the outer layer adds strength to the helmet liner itself."The 59-year-old inventor said the idea was first spawned after he participated in a research project on road safety more than 20 years ago.

"We looked at helmet design, tested different helmets, carried out crash simulations and even tested cadavers with helmets on. "I would go out with the traffic accident investigation squad to fatal or serious motorcycle and bicycle accidents to understand the force involved and hopefully retrieve the helmet.

"I would then take the helmet back to the laboratory, pull it apart and look for damage that could relate back to the injury sustained." It became clear to Mr Morgan that the standard foam liner in helmets was too hard and did not effectively absorb the force of an impact.

His interest in helmets continued long after the research project wrapped up, and during the 1990s his interest in foam liners was piqued again."My daughter was riding a bicycle and when I picked up her helmet and pushed my thumb against it, I was amazed at the hardness of it.

"I started to wonder how I could soften the liner."

After pondering different types of foam strips and utilising shapes from cylinders to square-based pyramids, Mr Morgan eventually decided on a cone-shaped lining. Independent testing of the Cone-Head liner in New Zealand compared Mr Morgan's design with standard helmet liners.

"The results showed that the foam samples we tested with cones in them were far superior to the single density harm foam. "I thought it would be all downhill from there, with all of this wonderful scientific data, but I found it very difficult to find an Australian manufacturer.

Following countless knock-backs from manufacturers and funding bodies, Mr Morgan considered walking away from the project.

However his wife encouraged him to try his luck overseas, and a helmet manufacturer was astounded with his invention.

"I signed a license agreement three years ago, so the helmet will be manufactured overseas and imported. "At the moment we're in the process of certification and I'd say by probably March or April next year we'll start producing them."

1 comment:

permanenttransition said...

I wonder if this will be picked up my major helmet manufacturers, or if they will have their own brand of helmets - very interesting and I hope I never have to test one out.