This smart polo helmet features a built-in crash sensor

Safety first as Loughborough student Robin Spicer rethinks the classic headgear
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Polo might look like a gentlemanly sport but injury rates are high and the helmet worn by players hasn't changed much in one hundred years.

That's why 23 year-old Loughborough University student Robin Spicer has designed Armis, a smart polo helmet and app which aims to both minimise head injuries and help players get swift medical attention.

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Spicer's take on the polo helmet features a 'crash sensor' at the base which connects to the player's smartphone via Bluetooth. When the sensor, which we imagine involves an accelerometer, detects that a player has fallen from his or her horse, the impact is detected by the app.

The final year Industrial Design student is looking to develop the software to alert the medical services to concussions in a match situation or send GPS co-ordinates to family and friends if the player is out training alone.

After receiving a £350 bursary from the James Dyson Award, Spicer - who has played the sport since he was six - was able to 3D print a prototype of the helmet that is being exhibited, alongside other work, at Loughborough's Design Show which finishes today, 15 June.

This smart polo helmet features a built-in crash sensor

Polo is a high risk sport with 64% of injuries being classed as major. The Armis helmet has a carbon fibre shell and is also built to minimise the impact of crashes and falls on the head, compared to traditional polo helmets.

It includes a crumple zone made from expanded polystyrene, a flexible peak and an extra low-friction layer which moves around inside the helmet, reducing rotational acceleration and mimicking the brain's own protection system.

"I hope to encourage polo players to seek proper medical attention when suffering a dangerous head impact," said Spicer.

"I've fallen off countless times while playing polo and have been knocked unconscious three times, with the most recent incident lasting for over 20 minutes. But I was straight back up onto the horse and playing polo again in a couple of days, which I really shouldn't have been."

The helmet has already attracted the attention of sports retailers and manufacturers, according to the university. "Robin's Armis Polo Helmet is a fantastic design which has really caught the eye of staff, students and businesspeople," said Tracy Bhamra, the Dean of Loughborough's Design School. "Robin was able to go from a sketch to a well developed, high quality prototype in just eight months."


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