Helmets are far from the brain buckets (basically shells) of times past.
Advancements in the use of foam and other insulations have come a long way in better protecting the brain, but it remains a challenge to engineer against high velocity impacts coming from different angles.
It takes more than just adding padding; in fact, more padding can cause more damage as the material packs out over time, creating more space between the shell and head.
Enter MIPS, which stands for Multi-directional Impact Protection Systems.
MIPS started in Stockholm, Sweden by five biomechanical specialists at the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH) in 2001 to create the most cutting-edge brain protection system.
With the help of neurosurgeon Hans Von Holst, who was fed up with patients still getting traumatic brain injuries despite wearing helmets, and researcher Peter Halldin, the MIPS technology was developed into a helmet that supports energy dispersion and absorption, rather than just buffering against direct impact.
MIPS utilizes a “slip plane” concept that uses a low friction layer under the shell that slides relative with the head during an impact.
This motion redirects the energy in a crash, mimicking the brain’s own protective structure — the cushion of cerebrospinal fluid just inside the skull — ultimately reducing damage to the brain.
MIPS also has been revolutionary in its testing methods, evolving from head-on impacts to the angled impacts that simulate accidents more accurately.
California helmet company Giro was one of the first brands to widely adopt the MIPS technology in its line-up. Together, Giro and MIPS have been making more advancements, the latest resulting in MIPS Spherical.
The brain-saving tech works similarly to previous generations of MIPS by absorbing rotational violence with a low friction layer, but is made up of two EP-Premium foam layers that work as two parts, rather than a ball-and-socket style slip plane.
This new tech can be found in Giro’s Avance ski racing helmet, the first to use Spherical MIPS.
The Avance will make its debut on USST racers Andrew Weibrecht and Travis Ganong as they race in the FIS World Cup Downhill Race held next week at Lake Louise, Alberta, Canada on November 26.
Giro can use 3D scans of the wearer’s head to custom sculpt the Avance’s interior so it can fit precisely without pressure points.
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