Imitating (and saving) the brain - MIPS Bike Helmet Tech
A recent tech innovation by Swedish boffins is all set to take the world lids by storm. You might have noticed the occassional MIPS bike helmet popping up on site and wonered what it could possibly mean - well it’s all down to some very clever mimicry of your brain’s natural response to angled impacts on the melon.
MIPS bike helmet tech gets its name from MIPS AB, a Swedish company founded in 2001 by specialists in the biomechanics from the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH) in Stockholm, Sweden. What they don’t know about impacts to the noggin is not worth knowing, and it was through their data led investigations of impacts that they developed the MIPS system.
The brain, as it turns out, is way more sensitive to angled (oblique) impacts than radial impacts yet current bike helmet safety tests only take into account radial forces - a helmet dropped straight onto the floor is a classic radial impact. You look at a whole heap of accident and test data and you see that that angled impacts are in fact far more common than radial impacts. In fact, the brain already has an inbuilt capacity to resist angled impacts. When the head is subjected to an angled impact the brain is able to slide along a membrane on the inner surface of the skull reducing the forces transmitted to the brain. What MIPS does is to take this natural response and replicate it inside the bike helmet.
Helmets kitted out with MIPS (and more and more are starting to arrive on the market, filtered down from the pro peloton) have an outer shell and inner liner separated by a low friction layer. Should the helmet be subject to an angled impact, the integral low friction layer allows a small rotation of the shell relative to the liner, thus reducing the force on the brain.
It probably goes without saying that anything that helps to reduce the chance of a brain damaging accident is always worth checking out and with MIPS tech, bike helmet safety is taking a bold and very data-led step forward.