In an effort to more accurately diagnose player concussions in the middle of a football game, a Brigham Young University student has developed a nano particle-embedded foam that's able to detect and measure impacts, providing real-time feedback about the severity of a hit or tackle.
What's particularly great about Jake Merrell's creation is that the foam looks and acts like the soft material already used in helmets to protect a football player's head. It behaves the same way too, but in the process of absorbing an impact, it also produces an electrical current that can be instantly measured.
Coaches, trainers, and even medical personnel on the sidelines will have instant feedback on just how hard a player was hit and whether or not there's the possibility of a concussion — even if they seem perfectly OK. And despite a player's protests, it will allow coaching staff to get a player off the field to prevent further injuries.
The foam could be used in other types of sports equipment as well, like pads and protective gear, providing early insights into possible internal injuries after a particularly brutal hit. Or it could even be used for more docile applications, like a thin mattress pad that keeps tabs on how often you toss and turn in the middle of the night. [Brigham Young University]