Motorcycle crash helmets – new design now safer.

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A student from Bournemouth University (UK) has designed a motorcycle helmet that will be easier for paramedics to remove after an accident, saving vital seconds and possibly lives. The novel design provides quick and safe removal via side clips which unlock the interior and allowing the helmet to slide apart.

Jack Hooker, 23, developed the unique patent-pending Splinter motorcycle helmet as his dissertation project while undertaking a Bachelor of Science (Hons) in Computer Aided Product Design. Inspiration for the project came from Hooker’s own love of motorcycles which saw him involved in two accidents between ages 18 and 19. Through consultation with St Johns Ambulance (UK paramedic service) officers he was able to take this personal experience and knowledge applying it to his honors design project.

“I initially presented a brief for a product that wasn’t as it stands today and I wasn’t 100 percent convinced by the project,” Hooker told Gizmag. “I then met with a member of the St John’s Ambulance and we discussed the project and he explained the problems that do exist. He helped to shape the brief so that I could work towards a better solution and product idea, predominantly this was finding a solution to helmet removal. With a standard full face helmet it currently requires two paramedics at least 10 minutes to safely remove, so as not to increase sustained injuries, nor run the risk’s of paralysis or even death. Clearly however if the patient isn’t breathing then the helmet needs to come off as quick as possible, so treatment can be applied.”

In current designs, the interior lining of the helmet follows the contours of the head. This design naturally resists removal with standard helmets requiring up to 200 N (20 kg) of force to get them off. The Splinter helmet design however has modified this interior construction, localizing the restriction zones into a single interior sub-assembly that is secured in place with the use of two release clips. Each release clip is bright red in color and on the underside of the helmet have the words “emergency release” to express that removal intention. Hooker also intends to use the worldwide paramedic symbol to indicate to paramedics in different countries that there is a mechanism installed.


“Although the helmet would look the same as a standard design, removing each of the clips from within the helmet, unlocks the helmets interior, allowing the one piece outer shell and cranial protection to slide off the wearer’s head leaving the small sub-assembly around the base of the wearer’s head to help maintain support to the wearer during removal,” Hooker said. “This small sub assembly can easily removed by the paramedic. The design of the helmet is so that it is intuitive to use, the focus for operation has always been so that only a single step is required for operation, i.e. removing the release clips and then the helmet can be removed.”

The design recently netted Hooker a £2,000 prize as the winner of the 2010 Santander Design Grand Slam.

The next step is to seek investment to have a prototype produced for further testing. The design has been developed using CAD and FEA so far. “The necessary certification a to verify the design helmet has to go through is very stringent; it would be a huge benefit to work with an existing helmet manufacture with the experience of helmet design and development,” Hooker said. He hopes to see the Splinter helmet reach market in around two years and expects it to retail for between £200 (US$315) and £400 (US$630).

Since graduating earlier this year from Bournemouth University Hooker has begun working for the automotive design consultant, Contechs and is currently based within Ford in Dunton, Essex, UK.