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Intel tackles effort to create safer football helmets

Teaming up with university researchers, chipmaker is using simulations to study effects of football injuries on the brain and envisions embedding Atom chips into helmets.

Intel is using its technology know-how to pave the way for safer football helmets with the goal of reducing serious injuries on the field.


Working with football equipment designer Riddell and a host of universities, the chipmaker is tapping into its own supercomputers and workstations to simulate the effects of a football collision on the brain. Data from those simulations will then be used to help design safer football helmets.

Intel recently demoed the simulation at the SC10 conference in New Orleans. Simulated collisions on the football field are processed by groups of Intel Xeon-based workstations linked together. Using real-time data from an in-helmet technology from Riddell, the simulations show the differences between impacts that result in concussions and ones that cause no injuries.

"Computer simulations have been instrumental in designing improved brain injury criteria," Dr. Igor Szczyrba, of the University of Northern Colorado, said in a statement. "In the near future, they can also help doctors diagnose actual brain injuries."

Intel is also working with the Mayo Clinic to speed up the diagnostic of medical scans by using supercomputers. Though its technology, Intel said it has been able to accelerate the reading of cranial scans by up to 18 times compared with more traditional technologies.

With an eye on the future, Intel envisions outfitting helmets with Atom processors, which could then send data wirelessly to servers and networks to measure the effects of collisions and injuries in real time. Combining that information with data from the simulations could help doctors respond to football injuries more quickly and treat them more effectively.