The sport of football is increasingly under scrutiny for its high risk of brain injury from repeated concussions. After years of denial, the NFL acknowledged this risk and started funding research that will produce technology to reduce the risk of concussions. One company, Seattle-based Vicis, used this windfall to develop the Zero1, a football helmet designed to absorb an impact and bounce back much like a car bumper. The technology is so effective against impacts that the Zero1 ranked highest in a recent NFL/NFL Players Association Helmet Laboratory performance test that evaluated 33 of the best helmets available.
The Zero1 uses a multi-layer design that is finely tuned for the impact types and velocities observed in professional football. The helmet has an impact-absorbing layer comprised of a series of columns that flex in response to an impact regardless of its angle or location. Because of their arrangement, these columns can absorb both linear and rotational impacts. This inner absorbing layer is paired with a shell that bends much like a car bumper. It flexes upon impact and immediately bounces back to its original form before the next impact. Safe and comfortable, the Zero1 is equipped the company’s Axis Fit technology which allows players to dial in a custom fit.
Earlier in 2017, the NFL/NFLPA Helmet Laboratory tested 33 different helmets in a series of tests designed to simulate head impacts experienced by NFL players. The team of researchers divided the helmets into two groups and evaluated each helmet’s ability to reduce the severity of the impact. When the testing was completed, the Zero1 had the best overall score, beating competing helmets from Riddell, Schutt, and Xenith. The Zero1 will undergo another round of testing this summer, but this time the helmet will be evaluated by players in real-world situations. More than 25 NFL teams are expected to wear the Zero1 helmet during their upcoming pre-season activities.
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