Intel Chips in to Make Football Helmets Safer

Technology is not the only field that excites chip maker Intel. Now, the tech leader decides to jump into the football field. It is collaborating with industry experts and several universities to tackle the issue of football-related head injuries.

Using supercomputers and workstations based on present and future Intel processor technology, researchers are simulating collisions to study the impact on the brain. They will use that information to design new football helmets that reduce the risk of short- and long-term injuries.

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Intel, working with Riddell, the premier designer and developer of helmets and protective equipment, and researchers from the Thayer School of Engineering (Dartmouth), Wayne State University, University of Northern Colorado and Texas State University-San Marcos, demonstrated simulations during an event at the SC10 conference in New Orleans.

In this demonstration, simulated impacts are processed on Intel Xeon Processor-based Workstations and Clusters, or a group of linked computers, to rapidly compute, visualize and assess the risk of injury in an impact event.

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The simulations are based on computer models from partner universities, some of which include actual data from on-field impacts using the Riddell HITS (Head Impact Telemetry System), a proprietary in-helmet technology that provides real-time data regarding head impacts.

These models show visualization of the stresses on the brain and can allow for comparisons between impacts that are found to result in a concussion and similar impacts that cause no injury.

“Computer simulations have been instrumental in designing improved brain injury criteria,” said Dr. Igor Szczyrba with the University of Northern Colorado. “In the near future, they can also help doctors diagnose actual brain injuries.”

Separately, attending the event and discussing the importance of using safe equipment to prevent injuries, was Drew Brees, quarterback of the New Orleans Saints and Super Bowl XLIV MVP.

While no equipment can prevent 100 percent of injuries, Intel is also working with Mayo Clinic to accelerate the ability to process medical scans. In this application, cranial scans running on Intel Many Integrated Core (MIC) architecture co-processors were accelerated by up to 18 times, the company says.

During the event, Intel also discussed future technologies, based on its Intel Atom processors, which could be embedded in helmets and wirelessly feed data into servers and cloud networks that measure injury risk and impact in real-time.

When combined with impact simulation, this could better safeguard players by identifying potential injuries quickly so that medical personnel can respond faster and have information as soon as they reach the player on the field.

Intel released this information today, Nov. 16.

In the above picture: New Orleans Saints Quarterback and Super Bowl MVP Drew Brees, and Kirk Skaugen, vice president and general manager of Intel’s Data Center Group, at SC10 in New Orleans discuss how technology innovation is being used to create safer football equipment.  

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