Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock ( ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

NIST, NFL, GE and Under Armour Announce Dynamic Research and 6D Helmets as Grand Prize Winner in Head Health Challenge III

Two-company team to share $500,000 to invest in more research and further product development

Photo of three materials from the HHCIII

Three samples of the winning material from Head Health Challenge III, a competition to spur the discovery, design and development of advanced materials that can absorb or dissipate physical impacts to the head or body.

Credit: Webber & Stoughton/NIST

GAITHERSBURG, MD—The U.S. Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the National Football League (NFL), GE (NYSE: GE), and Under Armour (NYSE:UA, UAA), today announced that a collaborative team of materials designers led by Dynamic Research Inc. has been selected as the grand prize winner of Head Health Challenge III.

“I congratulate the winning team and the Head Health Challenge III partners for looking for technological solutions to this important national problem,” said U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross. “The new materials developed through this competition will have broad applications, protecting everyone from students to athletes to soldiers.”

The competition is the third in a series of challenges in the Head Health Initiative, a four-year, $60 million collaboration between GE and the NFL.

Head Health Challenge III was designed to spur the discovery, design, and development of advanced materials to better absorb or mitigate force within helmets, pads and other sports and consumer products that protect against traumatic brain injury.

The $500,000 grand prize winning team used advanced computer modeling and a series of iterative improvements to create a novel material with an unusual geometric structure. The winning entry is a multi-impact material for use in protective gear for athletes, first responders, military personnel and others who face potential impact injuries. The team is:

  • Dynamic Research, of Torrance, California, which specializes in applied research, development and consulting in areas such as vehicle safety and biomechanics, including the study of impacts on the human body, and
  • 6D Helmets, of Brea, California, developers of the Omni-Directional Suspension,TM  a head-protection technology first commercialized for the action sports community for use in motorcycle and bicycle helmets .

“The goal of this challenge is to support innovation and help stimulate the marketplace with next-generation materials and design, and the impressive work by Dynamic Research and 6D Helmets has the potential to do just that,” said Jeff Miller, NFL Executive Vice President of Health and Safety Initiatives. “The NFL’s collaboration with GE, Under Armour and NIST highlights the important leadership role that various industries and organizations can take together to advance the state of equipment safety.”

The third Head Health Challenge kicked off in early 2015 and attracted more than 125 diverse companies and academic institutions. NIST was brought on board as a partner to lend its measurement and standards expertise to develop a new methodology for impact testing of materials properties and for comparing the contest submissions.

The novel structure of the winning material is based on a 6D Helmet proprietary technology that includes a middle layer of absorbent posts sandwiched between foam that helps reduce shear forces— impacts that happen at an angle rather than straight on. The material reduced certain measures of impact by more than 70 percent when compared with baseline foam material that has been commonly used in protective gear. The winning concept is also a system that can be fine-tuned to a variety of impact environments and adapted to different body types and applications.

NIST selected an independent panel of expert judges who narrowed the list down to five finalists, each awarded $250,000—and a year of development time—to enhance their materials.  

Head Health Challenge III: Semifinalists Selected
Head Health Challenge III: Semifinalists Selected

To support the finalist's development efforts, NIST established a dedicated testing facility to provide a common measure of the materials' performance. Each team submitted refined materials to NIST for testing at several points during the year, and NIST test data was provided back to them as feedback to modify their materials towards improved performance.

“The testing data collected by NIST researchers using this new measurement platform also helped the judges to fairly evaluate the diverse materials concepts developed by the finalists,” said Michael Fasolka, Deputy Director of the NIST Material Measurement Lab.

The finalists and winner were identified through a rigorous, scientific process based on their respective materials' innovative impact-absorbing properties and commercial potential. Many participants in the competition are now using NIST’s data to adjust their materials to expand into new product lines or markets and to attract new commercial partners.

For more information about the GE-NFL Head Health Initiative and Head Health Challenges, visit PlaySmart.PlaySafe

FOR REPORTERS AND EDITORS: B-roll of the winning material being tested is available for download.

About the National Football League
The National Football League has no higher priority than the health and safety of its players. In September 2016, Commissioner Roger Goodell launched Play Smart. Play Safe.—an initiative to drive progress in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of head injuries, enhance medical protocols and further improve the way the game is taught and played. As part of the initiative, the NFL and its 32 club owners pledged $100 million to help spur independent medical research and engineering advancements. For more information about the initiative, please visit

About GE
GE (NYSE: GE) is the world's Digital Industrial Company, transforming industry with software-defined machines and solutions that are connected, responsive and predictive. GE is organized around a global exchange of knowledge, the "GE Store," through which each business shares and accesses the same technology, markets, structure and intellect. Each invention further fuels innovation and application across our industrial sectors. With people, services, technology and scale, GE delivers better outcomes for customers by speaking the language of industry.

About Under Armour, Inc.
Under Armour (NYSE: UA, UAA), the originator of performance footwear, apparel and equipment, revolutionized how athletes across the world dress. Designed to make all athletes better, the brand's innovative products are sold worldwide to athletes at all levels. The Under Armour Connected Fitness™ platform powers the world's largest digital health and fitness community through a suite of applications: UA Record, MapMyFitness, Endomondo and MyFitnessPal. The Under Armour global headquarters is in Baltimore, Maryland. For further information, please visit the company's website at

About NIST
As a non-regulatory agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce, NIST promotes U.S. innovation and industrial competitiveness by advancing measurement science, standards and technology in ways that enhance economic security and improve our quality of life. Founded in 1901, NIST is one of the nation's oldest physical science laboratories. Today, NIST measurements support technologies from the smallest nanoscale devices to the largest and most complex engineering systems. As part of Challenge III, NIST's measurement expertise in materials science was essential to identifying promising technologies, testing the winners' products under state-of-the-art laboratory conditions and providing technical guidance to the winners as they seek to improve their innovations.

Released September 6, 2017, Updated January 8, 2018