Loughborough student puts safety first with his prototype for an ‘intelligent’ polo helmet

Image: ARMIS™ (Robin Spicer)

A Loughborough student’s prototype for a safer polo helmet – complete with a built-in crash sensor – could save lives by alerting emergency responders to impacts and falls that may cause head injuries. 

Robin Spicer, 23, a final year Industrial Design and Technology undergraduate from Northamptonshire, has already attracted the attention of leading market retailers and manufacturers with his polo helmet redesign – the ARMIS™ Polo Helmet. It will be exhibited to the public at the Loughborough University Design School Show from Friday 12 June to Monday 15 June, 10am until 5pm. 

The unique design contains a ‘crash sensor’ which Robin plans to link to a smartphone app via long range bluetooth. His overall aim is to develop the technology to alert emergency responders to falls and impacts that may require medical attention due to unseen, non-tangible concussions, as well as sending GPS coordinates of where the incident has occurred when the rider is training alone. 

The prototype was created using a 3D printer and developed for production, comprising of a crumple zone made of expanded polystyrene, a flexible peak, and a Multi-directional Impact Protection System (MIPS) that moves inside the helmet mimicking the brain’s own protection system. The low friction layer reduces the amount of rotational acceleration to the head and minimises the risk of suffering a serious brain injury. 

Robin, a polo player since the age of six, said the helmet has been designed with the British Standards in mind, incorporating safety clips, streamlined air vents and a double layered carbon fibre shell to prevent penetrations. Robin was awarded a £350 bursary from the James Dyson Foundation to help bring his project to life as part of his end of year degree show. 

He said: “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. 

“With my polo helmet design, I hope to change attitudes and behaviour towards safety in the sport and encourage polo players to seek proper medical attention when suffering a dangerous head impact. 

“Even though the rate of injury in polo is low, the severity rate is extremely high. If I can influence other manufacturers and companies to have a re-think about the design of their polo helmets and look at making them safer, then I have achieved my goal.” 

Professor Tracy Bhamra, Dean of Loughborough Design School, added: “Robin’s ARMIS™ Polo Helmet is a fantastic design which has really caught the eye of staff, students and businesspeople. The fact that Robin was able to go from a sketch to such a well developed, high quality prototype in just eight months, shows how dedicated and committed he has been to the course and his future success. 

“The Design School Show is a brilliant opportunity to meet Robin and other talented students and this year – for the first time – we are proud to be exhibiting work from our Ergonomics and Design Ergonomics  students.” 

For more information about Robin’s design, click here or email robinspicer@hotmail.co.uk

For further details on the Design School Show, click here.

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