Location: Schenectady, New York United States
Company: KIRSH Helmets, Inc.
Profession: Inventor, Entrepreneur, and Business Owner
Inspired by: I decided to develop better safety helmet technology after attending Laconia Motorcycle Week in New Hampshire in 2008. I was struck by the fact that out of 200,000 attending bikers, I only saw one wearing a helmet, and that guy was riding a moped.
Being an avid motorcyclist, I know why helmets are so unpopular. It all comes down to the rider’s desire for style and performance without sacrificing comfort. The same paradigm is true across where helmets are worn within Motor Vehicles, Sports & Athletics and Workplace Safety applications.
As a prime example to this point, let’s start with the Motorcycle Half-Shell helmet – of which there are two types. The first type are those that are DOT (Department of Transportation) approved. These helmets are extremely big and bulky because they have 2.5 to 3 inches thick of Styrofoam on the inside. When worn, they make you look like a mushroom head. They are very uncomfortable and they catch a lot of wind, wind drag is very uncomfortable on a long ride.
The second type is often referred to as a “novelty helmet”. These helmets do not meet DOT safety standards and offer little to no protection. They are illegal to wear in New York and in other states that have helmet laws. Because it is highly unlikely for the police to stop a rider to do a helmet check, many bikers wear novelty helmets to avoid getting tickets. As a result, hundreds of thousands of novelty helmets are sold each year.
What is scary to me is that a good majority of bikers wear novelty helmets. And just as scary to me is the fact that DOT-approved helmets do not provide adequate protection in many crash scenarios. That is because they are designed to provide protection in cases where crashes are caused by linear acceleration—straight-on impacts.
The engineering of a helmet should be to protect the wearer’s head, including the safety of the brain. Over time, as head trauma (and specifically Traumatic Brain Injuries “TBIs”), have become better understood, it has been discovered that the root cause for TBIs is exposure of the brain to rotational forces created by angular acceleration during impacts. TBIs, as we know, are taking an incalculable toll socially, financially, and emotionally to so many people and their families – it literally is an epidemic.
The helmet industry has been regulated by DOT since 1974 and the testing parameters were established at that time. They have never developed a more sophisticated line of testing. To this day, helmets are tested purely on linear acceleration. While in reality, over 80 percent of head injuries are greatly affected by angular acceleration. These are creating rotational injuries to the brain. Net/Net - the helmet industry does not address this via testing and thus its manufacturers are not engineering helmets to address the root causes of head trauma (including TBIs).
After leaving Laconia (2008), I couldn’t stop thinking about developing a better motorcycle helmet. It became my passion to bring safety helmet technology to the table that would provide the style, performance, and comfort riders so desperately wanted, and more importantly needed.
I feel that when you have a passion, you have an obsession - and an obsession never leaves your mind, it is always there. Although I am not an engineer by trade, I’ve always had an aptitude for math and science. So when my passion (obsession) for fixing the problems with current safety helmet technology was ignited, I became very academic.
Post Laconia, I conducted years of research on current safety helmet technology and its customary engineering approach to kinetic energy response, and rotational force impacts to the wearer. I finally had an epiphany – the safety helmet engineering gap that is driving the gaps in style, performance, and comfort for helmet wearers could be solved by FLUID.
Fluid is the most natural medium to respond to, convert, and displace kinetic energy – at any speed or angle. From a physics perspective it can further reduce helmet profile size. From a comfort perspective, a helmet’s interior can more naturally conform to the human head all while providing natural cooling benefits.
Borne from the obsession, and ultimately the FLUID epiphany, is my work to develop, design, patent, and deploy Fluid Displacement LinerTM (FDL) technology which becomes the enabling advancement for new revolutionary impact technology systems. These systems will deliver style, performance, and comfort to those who have historically worn helmets, as well as to those who haven’t worn helmets but now “will”.
|06/18||The Future for Helmets is Now - Introducing Fluid Displacement Technology||Manufacturing/Robotics/Automation||1704||68|