Athletes, warfighters and even children riding their bikes all can benefit from better protective gear to prevent head injuries. The Head Health Challenge launched by the NFL, Under Armour, GE and NIST is inspiring new advanced materials that could provide solutions to this problem.
The National Football League (NFL), Under Armour and GE sought NIST’s help with evaluating the impact absorption of new materials. The partners came to NIST due to our reputation for unbiased technical expertise, based on NIST’s long history of producing best-in-world materials science measurements.
In 2015, NIST entered into a partnership with the NFL, Under Armour and GE to launch Head Health Challenge III, an open innovation competition to support the discovery, design, and development of advanced materials that better absorb or dissipate impact. The partners understood that the experts who could produce better materials were from a diverse set of communities, from aerospace to automotive to sports medicine. They established a national competition offering up to $2 million in prizes to incentivize scientists and engineers to develop new materials that could meet ambitious performance criteria set by the partners.
NIST invested over $1 million in personnel and technical equipment to test the materials samples of the challenge competitors. NIST has identified a number of measurement needs through its connection with the partners and competitors in the challenge. These needs are driving NIST to develop new methods to assess material response to shearing and rotational impacts, which account for a considerable percentage of brain injuries.
On December 15, 2015, the NFL, Under Armour, GE, & NIST announced the semifinalists for Head Health Challenge III, an open innovation competition to develop advanced materials for use in a wide variety of impact absorbing gear.
Questions? Contact NIST Inquiries.
5 finalists selected by a panel of judges
more than 70% reduction in force transferred on impact—shown by NIST testing of finalist entries
"I'm encouraged to see the progress from our collaboration with NIST. The goal of convening the brightest engineers, scientists, and inventors was to advance and produce better materials for preventing injury, better tools for physicians, and better treatments for patients. Based on what we've seen from these five winners, we are moving in a positive direction."
– Alan Gilbert, Director, healthymagination, GE