Nature and the whole helmet
Helmets will often look the same, but they are not all created equal. Developing renowned and award-winning helmets, which balance the primary need for optimal safety with essential performance requirements, such as weight, ventilation, comfort or aerodynamics, requires experience, a broad outlook and a team of obsessive engineers.
It also requires a concept which can bind the stages of development together to form something deeply intricate and unique. To us this is our ‘whole helmet’ approach, where each component, each tiny detail, is designed to work seamlessly together to create a ‘whole’ which is significantly greater than the sum of its individual parts.
The natural world is the playground where we test our products and refine our ideas, it is also a constant source of inspiration to support our safety mission. Nature is filled with examples where working as a whole has significantly better effects than working alone. Watching ants sprinting around tirelessly in their well-organized world with a clear objective is the obvious, awe inspiring example.
Another is to witness the immense efforts and intelligence of geese flying high, day and night in perfect formation. Their awareness of aerodynamics and drag, and the impact it will have on their fatigue is critical to their teams migration, and ultimately, survival.
In nature a solitary animal or insect will have a negligible impact, likewise, a single individual feature or component in a helmet will only be able to deliver limited or very specific protection.
Inspired by nature, where the ‘whole’ is often greater than the sum of its parts, our helmet development has always incorporated holistic design to manage all types of activities, scenarios and impacts. This ‘whole helmet’ approach, is built on the foundation and belief that each feature, component, shape or material has to work as a unit, designed specifically to work in unison to enhance protection.
Protection from different types of impact: linear; oblique or a mix of both, requires helmets that will protect in a multitude of ways, such as: reducing rotational friction with the design and material used in the shell; creating a precise liner density to absorb specific impacts; creating enhanced materials to compress at different speeds and impacts; fusing advanced materials within materials; creating multi impact materials; or, when needed, inventing completely new technology to fit into a helmet.
Avoiding an accident and impact is clearly the best way to avoid injury, which is why the pre and post phase of an accident falls squarely into our ‘whole helmet’ development approach. Whether it’s a snow sport or the many forms of cycling, fatigue and lapses of concentration always heighten the risk of an accident. To enhance protection, helmets have to work long before a fall or an impact is felt.
Optimizing weight, ventilation, fine tuning comfort, creating ear chambers for balance, optimizing aerodynamics so you use less energy, integrating eyewear for improved vision, will all make a significant impact on a wearer’s ability to react to danger, and thus avoid needing to use the helmet in an impact.
Modern day cyclists have learned some of nature’s lessons and will know that by working together in a formation, or peloton, they can go further and faster with less effort. They also know that by choosing to go it alone, and using too much energy, they will generally always lose out to a group of riders who are working together.
The consequences of this strategy for a cyclist are painful, but temporary, and they will race another day. For the geese, however, going it alone and losing energy thousands of meters high in the sky will have significantly greater consequences. Like us they know the importance of the maxim; the ‘whole’ is always greater than the sum of its parts.