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Building a Better Bike Helmet Out of Paper

samzenpus posted about 3 months ago | from the recycled-helmet dept.

Technology 317

An anonymous reader writes "Inspired by nature, a London man believes the solution to safer bike helmets is to build them out of paper. '"The animal that stood out was the woodpecker. It pecks at about ten times per second and every time it pecks it sustains the same amount of force as us crashing at 50 miles per hour," says Surabhi. "It's the only bird in the world where the skull and the beak are completely disjointed, and there's a soft corrugated cartilage in the middle that absorbs all the impact and stops it from getting a headache." In order to mimic the woodpecker's crumple zone, Anirudha turned to a cheap and easily accessible source — paper. He engineered it into a double-layer of honeycomb that could then be cut and constructed into a functioning helmet. "What you end up with is with tiny little airbags throughout the helmet," he says.'"

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317 comments

Bike helmet? (0, Troll)

inode_buddha (576844) | about 3 months ago | (#45935129)

Dafuq you need a helmet for on a bicycle? That's like putting a screen door on a cow. When I was a kid the only kids that wore helmets were retards. We didn't have warning labels on everything either, back then.

Re:Bike helmet? (5, Funny)

jeffb (2.718) (1189693) | about 3 months ago | (#45935159)

And most of you survived to adulthood -- although, as your post illustrates, some did suffer lasting cognitive issues.

Re:Bike helmet? (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#45935351)

As has been posted to Slashdot before, the data on helmet protection is equivocal. In many large scale studies, increase in helmet use does not reduce severe brain injuries, and could possibly increase the rate.

Why? 1) Helmets might make bikers less cautious; 2) helmets might make car drivers less cautious; 3) a helmet can only absorb so much energy, and in many categories of severe crashes you're going to cross the threshold of severe brain injury regardless of a helmet (in other words the range of energies a helmet can protect you from might not overlap well with the kinds of crashes you need to worry about).

Re:Bike helmet? (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#45935459)

Also, 4) many severe head injuries from cycling crashes are caused by rotational forces, which helmets can exacerbate. 5) helmet requirements almost universally reduce the number of cyclists (or reduce the growth in cycling), leaving the cycling pool with more adventurous and risk-prone bikers; 6) corollary of #5, fewer cyclists means less road time experience between cyclists and car drivers.

See http://cyclehelmets.org/.

Re:Bike helmet? (5, Insightful)

gnoshi (314933) | about 3 months ago | (#45935575)

I hate to say it, but my impression is that linking to http://cyclehelmets.org/ [cyclehelmets.org] for issues of helmets is like linking to WUWT for issues on climate change. It has a particular position, and runs with it (whether that is intentional or not). They are by no means unique in this, and are also not the only position in the discussion to do it.
That said:
1. Dumb cyclists will be dumb, and if someone rides less cautiously because they think a helmet will protect them they are dumb
2. Dumb drivers will be dumb, and if a driver is really driving less cautiously around a cyclist on the basis that a helmet will protect the cyclist they are not only dumb but outright dangeous
3. Crossing the threshold with 100% of the force is still probably going to be more damaging than crossing it with 50% of the force (if 50% is absorbed by the helmet)
4. And many are caused by non-rotational impacts, which helmets reduce
5. Dumb cyclists are dumb, and if the pool of cyclists is largely made up of dumb cyclists then that doesn't mean helmets reduce safety, just that if a bunch of less dumb cyclists were added to the pool they would dilute the apparent stupidity of the group overall. Not saying cyclists are stupid, but rather that the number of stupid cyclists is the same irrespective of whether it is 100 stupid cyclists in 101 total cyclists, or 100 stupid cyclists in 1000 total cyclists.
6. If #5 is in fact true (and there is little agreement on it) then this is true, and indeed having more cyclists on the road very likely does make it safer for all cyclists.

There in another arguments for not requiring helmets, also based on the idea that requiring helmets reduces the number of cyclists: even if helmets do reduce the likelihood of death or brain injury in an accident, the advantage of improvement in overall community health as a result of more cyclists offsets the disadvantage of a subset of these being dead or brain injured.

Re:Bike helmet? (4, Insightful)

MarkvW (1037596) | about 3 months ago | (#45935697)

Your post is based on the assumption that car-cyclist collisions are the only significant kind of accident.

I've gone down because of ice (x2), rain, and recklessness. If you'll look up the statistics, you'll see that borne out in the larger numbers as well.

And human-caused climate change is real. Watch insurance prices rather than listening to politicians that are owned by the oil and coal industries.

Re:Bike helmet? (3)

gnoshi (314933) | about 3 months ago | (#45935823)

I'm not sure I communicated my position. I don't trust cyclehelmets.org, which I think is anti-mandatory-helmet-wearing, to present balanced information, in the same way I don't trust WUWT, which variously seems to deny either climate change or the anthropogenic aspect of climate change, depending on the line de jour.
I absolutely acknowledge that car-cyclist collisions are only one of many types of serious accidents. I personally do wear a bicycle helmet, and have smashed up several helmets through: being hit by a car (x1), sliding on oil on the road (x2), catching on tram tracks (x2).

Mainly, what I was saying is that many of the arguments levelled against having mandatory helmet wearing (or indeed helmet-wearing at all) are not actually about the effectiveness of helmets per se, but about the supposed broader effects of wearing helmets. I also think they're mostly, though not universally, bullshit arguments.

I should point out: I'm in Victoria, Australia, which has both mandatory helmet wearing and mandatory seatbelt wearing. There is a bit of a movement in Victoria to eliminate the requirement to wear helmets, but it isn't one I care about either way.

Re:Bike helmet? (5, Informative)

gnoshi (314933) | about 3 months ago | (#45935991)

Responding to oneself is generally bad form, but:
http://www.badscience.net/wp-content/uploads/Screenshot-2013-12-13-17.12.05.png [badscience.net]

In summary (and partially concordant with the person I initially criticised): On a community-wide level, requiring people wear helmets may not reduce head injuries, but on an individual level if you are cycling and can add a helmet to your cycling without changing your behaviour, you are probably safer with the helmet.

(This requires a bit of reading into the paper, and a couple of assumptions: Assumptions are: drivers don't suddenly start being dickheads around you because you're wearing a helmet, and you don't start being a dickhead because you put on a helmet. If those two hold, then the case-control rather than community-wide studies are more applicable to the individual choosing whether or not to wear a helmet).

Re:Bike helmet? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#45936259)

responding to yourself is poor form.
using bad English is just bad.

Re:Bike helmet? (0)

inflamed (1156277) | about 3 months ago | (#45935863)

When Imperial Oil (Exxon Mobil) sells a piece of property in downtown Calgary for $70M... and you know they don't need the money...

Re:Bike helmet? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#45935737)

I hate to say it, but my impression is that linking to http://cyclehelmets.org/ [cyclehelmets.org] for issues of helmets is like linking to WUWT for issues on climate change. ...

You just insulted WUWT.

Citing http://cyclehelmets.org/ [cyclehelmets.org] is like going to Penthouse's Forum to learn how to get laid.

Re:Bike helmet? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#45935627)

Also, 4) many severe head injuries from cycling crashes are caused by rotational forces, which helmets can exacerbate. 5) helmet requirements almost universally reduce the number of cyclists (or reduce the growth in cycling), leaving the cycling pool with more adventurous and risk-prone bikers; 6) corollary of #5, fewer cyclists means less road time experience between cyclists and car drivers.

See http://cyclehelmets.org/.

You're just trying to rationalize your personal dislike for helmets.

Saying helmets don't protect your head is like saying water isn't wet. It's fucking risible. Trying to prove helmets don't protect by using statistics from different groups (cyclists who wear helmets are a different type of rider from cyclists who don't) smacks of desperation.

Tell you what. I get to smack you upside your granite skull with a car door. You can put on a helmet or not. Your choice.

But the brain damage has already been done.

Re:Bike helmet? (5, Informative)

impossiblefork (978205) | about 3 months ago | (#45935895)

There are actually helmets designed to reduce the rotational forces though. For example, I remember my own university trumpeting one helmet design in which a kind of inner helmet was allowed to slide inside an outer helmet on a low-friction liner. Simulations demonstrated a reduction maximum strain forces on the brain. There's a presentation on it here by the company which now manufactures them: http://mipshelmet.com/how-it-works/the_invention [mipshelmet.com] and since it's a simple design I suspect that it will be a component of the helmet of the future.

However, honeycombs make excellent single-use shock absorbers, so those surely have a place in helmets as well.

Even if the site you link to were reasonable there is every reason to believe that helmets can be made truly excellent and made to give incredible protection both against shocks and rotational forces.

Re:Bike helmet? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#45935913)

And the helmet laws make the idjits more identifiable on the road. The ones without helmets are the pinheads who think "if I don't wear my seatbelt, I can be thrown clear of the car when it catches fire", or the idjits who can't keep track of a helmet. I *appreciate* the bike laws for making it clear which bike riders are likely to take stupid risks when I'm driving or when I'm even on the pavement as a pedestrian.

Re:Bike helmet? (5, Interesting)

icebike (68054) | about 3 months ago | (#45935567)

None of the reasons you post support your suggestion that helmet use does not reduce severe brain injuries or actually increase it. They are ludicrous at best.

In 30 years on a bike, I've never ever seen someone say, oh, I have this helmet, lets see if I can skid right under that semi and out the other side. People who take ridiculous risks will take them without helmets just as often as with.

The research only supports one assertion about increased injuries caused by helmets, and that is a marginal increase in neck injuries from the helmet catching on the roadway surface as you go sliding along. However, even this research recognizes this increase in neck injuries is a trade off compared to abraded to the bone head road-rash that would otherwise occur in the identical crash.

That being said, when broadsided by a semi, a helmet won't help you. And its probably pointless to require them by law.

Re:Bike helmet? (5, Insightful)

jeffb (2.718) (1189693) | about 3 months ago | (#45935767)

Why do these arguments sound so familiar? Probably because they're so similar to the arguments people used to make against seat belts.

"They'll increase accidents because they make it harder for drivers to stretch and look around!"

"They'll trap me in a burning or sinking car!"

And, my all-time personal favorite (yes, I've actually heard people say this):

"They'll prevent me from being thrown clear of the collision!"

People will persistently find the very stupidest reasons for not doing something that bugs them. Yes, each of these eventualities might have killed a few drivers who would've been spared if not for their safety belts. But those numbers are absolutely dwarfed by the number of lives saved and serious injuries prevented.

I've only been in one significant bike accident, and I was lucky enough in that one that my helmet didn't come into play. But looking back at the accident and the pattern of my injuries, I can't explain how the helmet was spared. I sure as hell am not tempted at this point to ride out without it.

Re:Bike helmet? (0)

quenda (644621) | about 3 months ago | (#45935857)

Why do these arguments sound so familiar? Probably because they're so similar to the arguments people used to make against seat belts.

That completely misses the point of the parent. They are listing possible reasons to explain the data, not reasons why _you_ should not wear a helmet.
If it is true that the data shows helmet laws not reducing injury rates per km, it does not mean the helmets are necessarily ineffective, but it suggests legislating them is not helpful.

BTW, the data on seat-belts is very clear. I've never heard anyone argue against them.

Re:Bike helmet? (4, Insightful)

the_B0fh (208483) | about 3 months ago | (#45936095)

They argued against it in the beginning. I remember reading about those idiots, and even now, there are people who'd use those arguments. They need to be loudly and derisively laughed at.

Re:Bike helmet? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#45936143)

Or does it show they increase safety enough to prevent a non-linear increase in accidents per km that would occur if more cyclists were added to the pool? As a real-life example, I flipped off twenty bicyclists today because ten of them were in the ample bike lane! and ten were in the right of my lane, forcing me to pass them in a turn lane. When I see single cyclists, usually only one in five is stupid enough to ride in the road when a bike lane is available. When there are a lot of them and/or they ride in groups, they behave recklessly. One equally reckless driver would have mowed down ten of them, versus zero if they were riding solo.

Re:Bike helmet? (2)

the_B0fh (208483) | about 3 months ago | (#45936049)

Just like how banking laws would make bankers less cautious, causing the 2007 financial disaster. We should make banking safer by removing all banking laws...

Oh wait. NO! You are a FUCKING IDIOT if you claim helmets make bikers less cautious. Just like those idiots who claim seat belts causes more deaths.

Re:Bike helmet? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#45935487)

Injuries others have suffered are not a subject for humor among adults,
you pathetic little twerp.

Re:Bike helmet? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#45935163)

I'll tell that to my brother who is now permanently disabled due to brain damage, as a result of not wearing a bike helmet and hitting a rock going down a hill at high speed.

Thanks, jerk.

Re:Bike helmet? (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#45935263)

This. Years ago now I was riding to school and was clipped by a car - in a bike lane (we aren't allowed to ride on the footpaths over here) - and the doctor said that if I hadn't been wearing the helmet I wouldn't be here now. You might be slightly uncomfortable wearing a helmet, and some people might joke about how it looks but it really can save a life.

Just like you teach your kids not to run with scissors, you should wear a helmet when riding a bike and you should teach your kids to do so as well.

Re:Bike helmet? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#45935905)

This. Years ago now I was riding to school and was clipped by a car - in a bike lane (we aren't allowed to ride on the footpaths over here) - and the doctor said that if I hadn't been wearing the helmet I wouldn't be here now.

Your doctor doesn't know what he's talking about.

Your injury was a different type to the one mentioned in the parent post. The one mentioned was a penetrative injury. The rock will have pierced the skull and an inch or so of polystyrene may have prevented the rock reaching the skull.

Re:Bike helmet? (4, Interesting)

spike hay (534165) | about 3 months ago | (#45936183)

Hitting something going downhill at high speed is going to cause brain damage or worse whether you have a helmet or not. Crashing on descents is very, very bad news.

Styrofoam will only protect you in low speed collisions. Somebody was killed in the Giro d'Italia last year descending from hitting his head on a siderail. He was wearing a helmet, of course.

This is the problem with these kind of anecdotes: If somebody crashes wearing a helmet, and is OK, it's just assumed that the helmet saved him. If somebody is hurt and was not wearing a helmet, it's assumed that he would have been ok if he was. In reality, this is a completely fallacious assumption, and is not borne out by the data.

Helmets probably have a positive impact on low speed crashes, but it is small. Motorists would have significantly reduced fatalities if they wore motorcycle helmets (which are much more effective but impractical for bicycles), like race car drivers do, but they don't. Pedestrians have higher fatalities per kilometer than cyclists (and pedestrian fatalities are often due to brain damage), but they don't wear helmets. Why is this one activity singled out to wear a bulky safety yarmulke?

Re:Bike helmet? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#45935165)

If you wore a helmet, you would not have gotten the brain damage you now so clearly have with the falls.

Re:Bike helmet? (1)

ChunderDownunder (709234) | about 3 months ago | (#45935253)

Because it's the law in civilised nations such as Australia and New Zealand.

Re:Bike helmet? (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#45935597)

The science is not a slam dunk for helmets. In many studies--including more recent studies, and meta-studies--helmets increase the injury rate. But even assuming that helmets provide a significant net benefit for cyclists, the reduction in cyclists caused by helmet laws definitely outweighs the benefits of helmets, because the injury rate is so low even without helmets that you're better off having a bunch of helmet-less cyclists losing weight and increasing their cardiovascular health.

Once again intuition and anecdote provide the wrong answer.

People eschewed seat belts for similar reasons--intuitively everybody thought that a seat belt would increase injury by preventing you from escaping from a wreckage, or by keeping you in a poor position.

People: stop using your intuition for this kind of stuff, and read up on real science. And also be critical of the science, because too often even scientists inadvertently seek to prove their intuition, rather than asking the hard questions. In the case of helmets, the emerging, qualitatively better science casts serious doubt on the overall benefits of helmets from an epidemiological perspective.

Helmets will help prevent cuts and mild concussions, but not serious head injuries with permanent damage, which they might even exacerbate. And helmet requirements disincentivize cycling to an extent that they often cause a negative net health outcome in the population.

Takeaway: helmet laws are definitely a bad idea. If you wear a helmet, good for you, but don't judge others who don't.

Re:Bike helmet? (3, Informative)

TheLink (130905) | about 3 months ago | (#45935799)

Helmets will help prevent cuts and mild concussions, but not serious head injuries with permanent damage, which they might even exacerbate.

The level of protection depends on the helmet.

Full face motorcycle helmets really work. Bicycle helmets range from subpar to a joke. Equestrian helmets are a ridiculous farce (worse or similar protection to bicycle helmets but you're higher up on an easily spooked animal).

Nobody wants to cycle/ride with full face helmets, but I believe there's still room somewhere in between for better helmets.

Re:Bike helmet? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#45935813)

The science is not a slam dunk for helmets. In many studies--including more recent studies, and meta-studies--helmets increase the injury rate. But even assuming that helmets provide a significant net benefit for cyclists, the reduction in cyclists caused by helmet laws definitely outweighs the benefits of helmets, because the injury rate is so low even without helmets that you're better off having a bunch of helmet-less cyclists losing weight and increasing their cardiovascular health.

You've obviously never gone down at 25+ mph/40+ kph and had your head make contact with the pavement.

Once again intuition and anecdote provide the wrong answer.

WRONG

See above.

People eschewed seat belts for similar reasons--intuitively everybody thought that a seat belt would increase injury by preventing you from escaping from a wreckage, or by keeping you in a poor position.

What. The. Fuck.

Seatbelts have NOTHING to do with this.

Why not comment on the migration patterns of African swallows?

People: stop using your intuition for this kind of stuff, and read up on real science. And also be critical of the science, because too often even scientists inadvertently seek to prove their intuition, rather than asking the hard questions. In the case of helmets, the emerging, qualitatively better science casts serious doubt on the overall benefits of helmets from an epidemiological perspective.

Cite?

Helmets will help prevent cuts and mild concussions, but not serious head injuries with permanent damage, which they might even exacerbate.

Again. See above about going down at 25+ mph/ 40+ kph.

And helmet requirements disincentivize cycling to an extent that they often cause a negative net health outcome in the population.

TOTALLY irrelevant to your statements regarding helmet protection.

Takeaway: helmet laws are definitely a bad idea. If you wear a helmet, good for you, but don't judge others who don't.

Then don't make stupid claims and use irrelevancies to try to support you argument.

Then don't make claims about "emerging science" without supporting those claims.

Lest you be judged to be stupid.

Re:Bike helmet? (2, Interesting)

jeffb (2.718) (1189693) | about 3 months ago | (#45935819)

Okay, I didn't see this post before my mocking response about anti-seat-belt arguments.

I am very skeptical of meta-studies that claim helmets increase injury rates (in fact, I'm somewhat skeptical of meta-studies in general -- they smack of running the results repeatedly through the blender until you get the consistency you want). But I haven't done extensive homework, so I can't actually dismiss what you say.

I do take issue with one detail, though: the assumption that helmet laws will disincentivize cycling. You're assuming that uneducated and unreasonable attitudes about helmets can't be changed. They were changed for safety belts, and (to a large degree) for cigarettes; why not for helmets?

Re: Bike helmet? (1)

Chryana (708485) | about 3 months ago | (#45936333)

You're assuming that uneducated and unreasonable attitudes about helmets can't be changed. They were changed for safety belts, and (to a large degree) for cigarettes; why not for helmets?

I can think of a few reasons why bike helmets are different from safety belts:
- Wearing a bike helmets has been legally required in several areas for long enough to draw conclusions about their effectiveness, and yet we are still discussing if they work or not. Thus, it doesn't seem all that uneducated or unreasonable to decide not to wear one, for now.
- Mandatory bike helmets are incompatible with public bicycle sharing systems. There was an attempt to run such a system in Melbourne, Australia [google.com] , and the requirement to wear a helmet was considered one of the reasons for why it failed completely to take hold. Since you're borrowing a bike, you have to lug an helmet around, so you can't leave it with the bike, and you can't borrow an helmet for hygiene reasons.
- On a personal note, I find bike helmets very uncomfortable. This is a very personal argument, but the same thing cannot be said of seat belts.

With that said, there are some ingenious bike helmets designs that are being worked on, which do not cover the head. They may prove popular, regardless of whether they are useful or not.

Re:Bike helmet? (1)

DeathElk (883654) | about 3 months ago | (#45936019)

Yeah, the only two countries with federally mandated helmet laws, and they've both seen a dramatic decrease in cycling participation since the laws were introduced.

Re:Bike helmet? (3, Informative)

telchine (719345) | about 3 months ago | (#45936123)

Because it's the law in civilised nations such as Australia and New Zealand.

In the United Kingdom. HEAT suggests that a law making helmets compulsory for cyclists may result in an overall increase in 253 premature deaths – 265 extra deaths from reduced cycling less 12 deaths saved among the reduced pool of cyclists receiving fatal head injuries.

http://www.cyclehelmets.org/1231.html [cyclehelmets.org]

I for one am glad that I live in a rational nation, rather than one of the civilised ones which you mention!

Re:Bike helmet? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#45936203)

As an Australian who was there when they introduced it. This is a load of shit. It's not "civilized" it's a bunch of
worthless wankers who demanded that everybody else
join their cult of the silly hat. Cycling was getting more popular and normal people started to do it, and promptly noticed that Sydney is a really dangerous place to ride a bike. So the politicians did the most cynically expedient thing they could, make helmets mandatory. Originally there was no penalty, but the cops whinged. Hey presto 36% of cyclist gone with only a 30% reduction in head injuries.
As they discovered in Australia, if you reduce the cycling population to those who are prepared to wear a silly hat, you can ignore cycling for decades.
Heart disease killed 24,000 people last year in Australia,suicides were 1,914 motor vehicles accidents were 1,684
Cyclist deaths were, wait for it, 27.
Helmet laws are a SHIT solution to the problem of injured cyclists

Re:Bike helmet? (2)

spike hay (534165) | about 3 months ago | (#45936211)

Cycling in Australia dropped 1/3 overnight when the helmet law was passed. This makes it more risky for existing cyclists, as there is safety in numbers.

The overriding public health effect is that the health benefits of cycling outweigh the risks in expected life by something like 30x. Thus, the 1/3 drop in cyclists results in many more premature deaths from lack of exercists.

Helmets may provide a small benefit in some crashes, but helmet laws are absolutely indefensible from a rational public health standpoint.

Re:Bike helmet? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#45935295)

Dafuq you need a helmet for on a bicycle? That's like putting a screen door on a cow. When I was a kid the only kids that wore helmets were retards. We didn't have warning labels on everything either, back then.

Had a shitload more Darwin award winners too, back then. Sorry to hear you didn't win. Please keep trying.

Re:Bike helmet? (1)

beelsebob (529313) | about 3 months ago | (#45935777)

Michael Schumacher is probably the best demonstration of why you want a helmet on your head when doing about 30mph ;)

Re:Bike helmet? (4, Insightful)

gwolf (26339) | about 3 months ago | (#45935935)

I am a regular biker — At least three days a week, I cycle to work. Not a great distance, but I end up making ~1hr on the bike every day I use it.

Several years ago, a car hit laterally my rear tire. Quite slowly, fortunately, although it managed to bend the rim ~30 degrees. Of course, cycling at ~20Km/h (~12mph), I fell down to my left.

I stood up right away, scared but not hit. My pants were slightly torn over the pocket where I store my keys. Nothing happened to me, just a scare, right?

When I took my helmet off, it was split in two. Yes, helmets are (and are designed to be) quite more fragile than skulls. Still, I'm very happy I didn't have to land with the side of my head on the road. Were I to be lucky, I'd have an ugly scar on my front left side.

Wear a helmet. Always.

Re:Bike helmet? (0)

spike hay (534165) | about 3 months ago | (#45936231)

Actually if the helmet split in two it absorbed very little of the impact energy, and did not prevent any brain damage. It would have only helped (in a low speed crash) helped if it crumpled in. It might have prevented a laceration, so that's something, I guess.

Re:Bike helmet? (1, Troll)

spike hay (534165) | about 3 months ago | (#45936257)

I should expand on this: Helmets are styrofoam (with holes in it!), and a thin plastic cover. Next time you buy a thing packed in a big box, try breaking the styrofoam. Turns out it's not very strong.

The only way the deceleration (which causes the brain damage) is reduced is if the helmet crushes in. And this will only help in a low speed crash, otherwises your head will still be decelerating after the foam crushes.

I think people tend to assign more of a protective benefit to helmets because of the psychological benefit of something over your head. In reality, brain injuries are caused by de(acceleration) which induces your brain to slosh in your skill, which styrofoam is not so awesome at preventing. It's even worse if it's torsion, which may be exacerbated by helmets.

The best bike helmets (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#45935135)

are made from air and common sense.

Tiny little airbags like the polystyrene foam? (5, Insightful)

dbIII (701233) | about 3 months ago | (#45935157)

I'd say it's the article at fault not the designer, but the reason polystyrene foam is already used in bike helmets is exactly the same - "tiny little airbags throughout the helmet".
I wonder how this compares? Does this absorb more energy?

Re:Tiny little airbags like the polystyrene foam? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#45935407)

Tiny little airbags like the polystyrene foam?

I like bubble wrap better (for reasons not related tp bike helmets).
Besides, I assume "a soft corrugated cartilage" collected from the interstice between woodpeckers' skull and beak would do the job better.

(ducks)

Re: Tiny little airbags like the polystyrene foam? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#45935741)

(Woodpeckers)

Re:Tiny little airbags like the polystyrene foam? (1)

the_Bionic_lemming (446569) | about 3 months ago | (#45936197)

But for this to work, won't you need to bicycle with a hard pecker all the time?

(thank yew, thank yew, I'm here all week, don't forget to tip the waitresses)

Re:Tiny little airbags like the polystyrene foam? (1)

MrKaos (858439) | about 3 months ago | (#45936305)

Tiny little airbags like the polystyrene foam?

I like bubble wrap better (for reasons not related tp bike helmets). Besides, I assume "a soft corrugated cartilage" collected from the interstice between woodpeckers' skull and beak would do the job better.

(ducks)

Yeah - the problem with the bubble wrap helmets is that people got addicted to popping the bubbles in the wrap so the helmets didn't work. It's that "I know I shouldn't be doing this but i can't stop" thing.

Re:Tiny little airbags like the polystyrene foam? (4, Interesting)

arielCo (995647) | about 3 months ago | (#45935425)

If I had to guess I'd say polystyrene is slower to compress and returns some of the energy (elastic deformation), while cardboard tends to deform permanently, absorbing all of the energy. As for being "disposable", I've read that conventional helmets should be discarded after an impact; these make sure you do.

Re:Tiny little airbags like the polystyrene foam? (4, Informative)

Jarik C-Bol (894741) | about 3 months ago | (#45935529)

if you bother to read the article, you would learn it absorbs far more of energy. They state that a 15mph crash can subject the brain to 220G of force wearing a polystyrene helmet. Using the paper helmet, the test units brain-analogue was subjected to a mere 70G of force. This was tested in Europe, where regulations state for a helmet to be approved, the brain may not be subjected to more than 300G of force at 15mph. So a significant improvement over traditional polystyrene helmets, in terms of energy absorption and dissipation. I posit that this is most likely due to the fact that paper does not recoil back to its original form as much as the polystyrene.

Re:Tiny little airbags like the polystyrene foam? (2)

TheloniousToady (3343045) | about 3 months ago | (#45935795)

Maybe the NFL should consider this for the longstanding concussion problem that's been getting a lot of publicity lately. They could afford to throw them away as often as needed.

Re:Tiny little airbags like the polystyrene foam? (3, Informative)

citizenr (871508) | about 3 months ago | (#45935839)

Helmets are the _source_ of NFL concussion problem, not the solution.
http://www.pelhamrugby.com/2012/05/08/concussions-american-football-versus-rugby/ [pelhamrugby.com]

Re:Tiny little airbags like the polystyrene foam? (1)

TheloniousToady (3343045) | about 3 months ago | (#45935983)

I can't imagine concussions going down if the players left off their helmets. However, if you mean that the rules should be changed so that helmets are no longer needed, (American) Football would be a fundamentally different game. Or, as the article you cite neatly puts it, "Football is a collision sport, while rugby is a contact sport." I think people who prefer Rugby rules already have a very nice game that uses them.

Re:Tiny little airbags like the polystyrene foam? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#45936319)

Not only in rugby, also in Australian Rules Football (which is as much full contact as North American Football...only played in shorts and tees as opposed to the Padding and armor in U.S. football). Yeah, players get stuff like knee, foot, ankle and back injuries (also often loose a few front teeth), but concussions are comparatively rare because players tend not to lead with their heads. Like wise in Soccer (or Football to most of the world).

Re:Tiny little airbags like the polystyrene foam? (1)

beelsebob (529313) | about 3 months ago | (#45935817)

Yes, FTA, this absorbs 4 times more energy in a typical collision than a styrofoam helmet.

Re:Tiny little airbags like the polystyrene foam? (1)

flyingfsck (986395) | about 3 months ago | (#45936029)

Shhh... don't ruin his new business with facts. The UK economy has enough trouble getting going as is.

don't ride in the rain (4, Interesting)

Todd Palin (1402501) | about 3 months ago | (#45935177)

Paper had one characteristic that might make it less than suitable for use in rain. One foam helmet might be cheaper in the long run than a bunch of soggy paper helmets.

Re:don't ride in the rain (5, Informative)

jeffb (2.718) (1189693) | about 3 months ago | (#45935197)

Although the article didn't make it explicit, I'm assuming that the helmet gets a coat of resin or something to water-proof it. Speaking for myself, I don't need rain to get a helmet wet -- I don't have great strength, endurance, or aerobic capacity, but I sweat like a champ.

Re:don't ride in the rain (1)

c0lo (1497653) | about 3 months ago | (#45935499)

Paper had one characteristic that might make it less than suitable for use in rain. One foam helmet might be cheaper in the long run than a bunch of soggy paper helmets.

Try some guinit helmets [proboards.com]

Re:don't ride in the rain (4, Insightful)

beelsebob (529313) | about 3 months ago | (#45935825)

Because you know... you can't apply a waterproof coating. We don't use paper to wrap up all kinds of wet things, like milk, or orange juice.

I'm personally way more interested in Hövding (4, Interesting)

Picardo85 (1408929) | about 3 months ago | (#45935185)

The name is Hövding and it's an "Airbag bicycle helmet". It's developed by some team in Skåne, Sweden. Looks really cool. [hovding.com]

Re:I'm personally way more interested in Hövd (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#45935285)

It's also freaking expensive.

Re:I'm personally way more interested in Hövd (1)

hawguy (1600213) | about 3 months ago | (#45935417)

It's also freaking expensive.

So are car airbags, but you don't notice the expense because it's hidden in the $30,000 purchase price of the car.

Re:I'm personally way more interested in Hövd (1)

camperdave (969942) | about 3 months ago | (#45935747)

It's also freaking expensive.

So are car airbags, but you don't notice the expense because it's hidden in the $30,000 purchase price of the car.

So... we should increase the price of bicycles?

Re:I'm personally way more interested in Hövd (1)

hawguy (1600213) | about 3 months ago | (#45935933)

It's also freaking expensive.

So are car airbags, but you don't notice the expense because it's hidden in the $30,000 purchase price of the car.

So... we should increase the price of bicycles?

Either that, or those that want an airbag for their heads can use the money they saved by buying a $1,000 bike instead of a $30,000 car and use it to buy a $700 biking airbag.

Re:I'm personally way more interested in Hövd (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#45935313)

That looks pretty cool but what happens if you fall face first?

http://www.hovding.com/content/images/startpage/03_what_is_hovding/girl-helmet.jpg

Re:I'm personally way more interested in Hövd (1)

master5o1 (1068594) | about 3 months ago | (#45935461)

Same question is applied to traditional helmets. But I suppose you're talking about the time between helmet reacting and fully deployed airbag.

Re:I'm personally way more interested in Hövd (1)

hawguy (1600213) | about 3 months ago | (#45935475)

That looks pretty cool but what happens if you fall face first?

Looks like it still protects your forehead, even if your face ultimately hits the ground:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d7Oud3iGXWY [youtube.com]

(The face down crash starts around 3:30 (there's a couple slow-motion replays after the full speed crash)

Re:I'm personally way more interested in Hövd (1)

craighansen (744648) | about 3 months ago | (#45935625)

That's the purpose of the extension of the helmet forward over the forehead.

Re:I'm personally way more interested in Hövd (1)

camperdave (969942) | about 3 months ago | (#45936159)

Why not extend the cheek guards as well (think Kenny from South Park)? Or why bother with an open face area at all?

Re:I'm personally way more interested in Hövd (2)

camperdave (969942) | about 3 months ago | (#45935891)

That looks pretty cool but what happens if you fall face first?

http://www.hovding.com/content/images/startpage/03_what_is_hovding/girl-helmet.jpg

Looking at the videos, I don't see why they don't airbag the whole head. What do you need to see when you're crashing? And even if you do need to see, why not extend nose and cheek pieces all the way around? Or just make a section of the airbag with clear plastic instead of white.

Re:I'm personally way more interested in Hövd (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#45935691)

Snowcrash as fuck. I want one.

Re:I'm personally way more interested in Hövd (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#45935715)

Looks really cool.

I never thought "really cool" would translate to "fucking hilarious".

Well done.

Re:I'm personally way more interested in Hövd (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#45935727)

The name is Hövding and it's an "Airbag bicycle helmet". It's developed by some team in Skåne, Sweden. Looks really cool. [hovding.com]

You and I have very different ideas of what looks cool.

Sadly, Not the Worst Patent Troll Ever (1)

rmdingler (1955220) | about 3 months ago | (#45935341)

"It is well documented our enterprise patented and manufactured paper made from bicycle helmets."_tm.

Rain (1)

RobertinXinyang (1001181) | about 3 months ago | (#45935445)

One word says it all, "rain."

Re:Rain (2)

PlusFiveTroll (754249) | about 3 months ago | (#45935507)

A second word negates your first word.
Waterproofing.

Re:Rain (4, Insightful)

RobertinXinyang (1001181) | about 3 months ago | (#45935751)

I actually thought about that. However, there are very few cost effective methods of waterproofing paper that work. Think of the waterproof corrugated paper packaging you have seen. It is fine for short exposure; but, it does not hold up to prolonged immersion and exposure.

A bike helmet will sit in puddles; it will spend hours in downpours. If you waterproof for the exposure conditions that bicycle helmets see, at some point it ceases to be paper.

Re:Rain (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#45936173)

Water resistance: acrylic dip.
Abrasion resistance: vac-formed outer shell.
So it's not really all paper.... who cares?

Re:Rain (1)

Ksevio (865461) | about 3 months ago | (#45936243)

Stick it in a plastic bag and it should have all the same benefits plus being waterproof. I'm sure the manufacturers could come up with a way that lets air through if they wanted that.

Tampons! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#45935569)

So what is wrong with ten tampons, a bra and duck tape?!

Ha ha.

Re:Tampons! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#45935957)

Provided the bra is full and in use, I'm fine with that.

Read between the lines (3, Interesting)

craighansen (744648) | about 3 months ago | (#45935609)

I think you have to read between the lines carefully to find the real value in the article. I think it can be equally valid to build a bicycle helmet from corrugated or expanded cardboard as is is with styrofoam + shell. (OK, styrofoam is a trademart for Expanded Polystyrene.) As others have commented, cardboard is suseptible to damage from moisture, so it has to be sealed against it. In addition, I'm not convinced that the cardboard design is cheaper to manufacture than the styrofoam designs.

To me, the relevant signal is the reduction in maximum G force. The article suggests that the design limit is 300G, and conventional helmets achieve 225G - while his design gets to 70G. Presumably, the mechanism for doing that is to absorb the impact energy over a significant period of time before transmitting the forces to the wearer. Given the velocity of the collision, this means that the helment has to be built with a greater distance between the outside and inside of the helment than existing designs. If people are willing to wear thicker helmets (appropriately designed), such helmets could be reasonably expected to perform better - I'd think comparable designs could be easily built from the styrofoam + shell technology that's commonly in use.

Finally, the inventor says he was inspired by observing that his helmet was broken in the collision. THAT'S WHAT THEY ARE MEANT TO DO. In absorbing the forces of the collision, the helmet is permanently deformed. If your head is saved from destruction by a helment - buy a new helment to replace it.

Re:Read between the lines (2)

beelsebob (529313) | about 3 months ago | (#45935837)

Why would you assume that absorbing energy more slowly implies that it's thicker? Simply absorbing more energy per unit time would do this too (as it would rapidly slow the deceleration, and hence extend the period of movement).

What about high speed crashes? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#45935667)

The article says the paper helmet results in lower G force (i.e. the head decelerates slower) compared to a polystyrene helmet in a 15mph crash. In other words the paper helmet isn't as stiff and acts like a soft cushion. That's great for low speed and low energy crashes, but what about high speed crashes where you need a stiff material that can absorb the energy?
Plenty of cyclists (myself included) could double that speed on the flat, and easily do 50mph down a hill.

Re:What about high speed crashes? (1)

beelsebob (529313) | about 3 months ago | (#45935843)

In such high speed crashes, you would die wearing a styrofoam helmet anyway, so it's rather a non-issue.

Overlooking the obvious? (5, Funny)

nixkuroi (569546) | about 3 months ago | (#45935781)

After RTFA, it seems that the most obvious material to make the helmet from is woodpecker skulls. Didn't anyone else get that?

Re:Overlooking the obvious? (1)

PaddyM (45763) | about 3 months ago | (#45936289)

The article? I thought it was obvious from the summary, but the solution: separating our forehead from the rest of our skull with woodpecker cartilage, did not seem like a real option. Maybe these were the prosthetic foreheads everyone was talking about in that They Might Be Giants song?

Cardboard works great (4, Interesting)

hubie (108345) | about 3 months ago | (#45935851)

Corrugated cardboard has been used for decades under high-altitude scientific balloon payloads to absorb the impact of landing from a parachute descent. You don't have to put too many of them under several thousand pounds of experiment and gondola. Here [nasa.gov] is a (not so good) picture of one example. The cardboard provides a very nice low-gee impact.

Instead of making helmets compulsory (0)

rossdee (243626) | about 3 months ago | (#45935861)

why not just ban bikes from the roads, since cyclists can still suffer broken legs and arms if they are run over by motor vehicles.

Re:Instead of making helmets compulsory (2)

DeathElk (883654) | about 3 months ago | (#45935999)

Many urban planners are discussing the opposite - ban inefficient, private use vehicles from cities and provide better cycling infrastructure. Wins all round. Except for lazy people.

Re:Instead of making helmets compulsory (1)

rossdee (243626) | about 3 months ago | (#45936107)

"Many urban planners are discussing the opposite - ban inefficient, private use vehicles from cities and provide better cycling infrastructure."

What about during winter, or don't they have that there? 2 wheeled vehicles don't go so good on ice and snow, or when its too cold for ice and snow (like -30)

"Wins all round. Except for lazy people."

I walk to work,

Old news, but good news (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#45935883)

Surabhi's design has been around for a few years now, and has been recently been integrated into an actual product: the Abus Kranium AKS 1. While it appears to perform splendidly for impacts directly to the top of the head, impacts to the side or rear (which are significantly more common) are quite average. You can see some raw test data from prototypes at http://www.helmets.org/kraniumresearch.pdf

Its good to see some innovation going on in the helmet space. Alternative materials like this, dual-density "conehead" liners, and MIPS tech are all interesting ideas for reducing injury. Now if only consumers could get more information about a particular helmet's crash performance beyond the basic CPSC "prevents your head from cracking open" certification. I'd love to be able to compare based on the peak acceleration or dwell time data that is already measured!

Re:Old news, but good news (4, Insightful)

russotto (537200) | about 3 months ago | (#45936043)

Surabhi's design has been around for a few years now, and has been recently been integrated into an actual product: the Abus Kranium AKS 1.

Looks like it has a fatal flaw or two.

It's no great trick to make a helmet which will absorb impact. The trick is to do it without too much weight and, unless you only ride in cold weather, without overheating your head. In general, the more you pay for a helmet, the less helmet and more hole you get. That thing is covered with a solid shell. No venting. It's a portable oven. It's also 535g -- about 1.2 pounds. It's a brick (and probably will contribute to neck injuries as a result).

Giro's cheapest MTB helmet has some vents and is 410g. Move up to a helmet you might actually wear in the heat, you've got almost as much vent as helmet and you're down to 316g. Go to one which costs as much as this one -- 80 pounds sterling -- and you're under 300g and have more holes than helmet.

If it was just unventilated it might still have its niche, but it's just too heavy.

Better helmet design? Excellent. (1)

DeathElk (883654) | about 3 months ago | (#45935939)

I'm all for a better designed bicycle helmet, and I'd use it in some circumstances. But I'm vehemently against the government mandating that I must wear one.

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