WMU students design impact sensor for football helmets

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WZZM) -- Engineering students at Western Michigan University have designed a sensor to monitor the severity and location of blows to football players' helmets.

Now, they plan to launch a company to produce those sensors, and they're looking for investors and grants to fund SafeSense Technologies LLC.

The students' faculty advisor is Dr. Massood Atashbar. He calls the invention a niche technology. It was recognized as one of the top eight ideas in a recent University of Michigan contest, in which more than 300 teams submitted ideas.

The sensor uses printed electronics mounted on flexible organic plastic, which is then placed inside a football helmet.

Recent attention on football-related concussions led the team to orient their project toward solving that problem, but the group says there's really a wide range of applications for the device. It could help on the battlefield, measuring the impact of a bomb blast or other trauma, for instance.

The sensor transmits data via Bluetooth to a mobile device, offering immediate access to the information. The data could also be saved for future reference.

Western Michigan University is also involved in several other projects using printed electronics. WMU's Center for the Advancement of Printed Electronics, or CAPE, has been studying applications in automotive supply, pharmaceuticals, medical devices, food packaging, and clothing.

The project team includes three doctoral students in electrical engineering and a master's student in chemical and printing engineering.


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