John Thompson is an engineer who, after twelve years of working in mainstream business, left to pursue his dream of working in the bike industry. He moved to Switzerland for the amazing riding on offer, and is now the Bike Helmet Product Manager at Scott. He is part of a passionate international team at Scott focused on creating safe, well-designed helmets. He feels that fashion has dictated too much in the bike helmet market, for too long, leaving customers with a very wide choice of good looking helmets, most of which just about pass the minimum safety requirements. His philosophy is to develop helmets that far exceed safety standards, and to strive to further increase the safety capabilities of Scott helmets by incorporating technologies such as MIPS. After all, as man who describes himself as an aging and avid mountain biker who is not too unfamiliar with the odd dirt sandwich, he is keen to preserve what little horsepower he has left upstairs. What is MIPS?
MIPS is a Swedish science and technology company focused on improving helmet safety to deal with the type of crashes we experience in the real world. The MIPS Brain Protection System is a helmet safety technology which significantly improves head protection in the event of a crash. When we fall, our head often impacts at an angle. This angular impact creates a rotation in the brain, which has been proven to have significant potential to cause brain damage. With MIPS, the helmet absorbs much of that damaging rotational energy, offering increased protection. MIPS has no effect on the traditional safety mechanism of the helmet, the Expanded Polystyrene (EPS), so the helmets EPS shell is left to do its job of absorbing radial impacts. How was it originally discovered?
MIPS is a result of a Swedish neurosurgeon, Hans von Holst, who while working at the World Health Organization in 1997, felt that traditional helmets did not do enough to protect people and accidents were having devastating consequences for many people. He sought the collaboration of Peter Halldin, researcher at the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, with a view to them trying to develop a technology that could provide more effective protection. The idea was to look more closely at the head's anatomy and physiology, and copy the body's own protection system. Together Peter Halldin and Hans von Holst developed a technology that involved building a cushion or low friction layer into helmets which would provide unique and much improved protection for the brain. Out of this work came the name MIPS, an abbreviation of the functionality of the concept, Multi-directional Impact Protection System.
What does it look like inside a helmet?
A cutaway of the new Scott Stego helmet which uses the MIPS liner.
It is hard to see the MIPS Brain Protection System from the outside of the helmet, but it is easily visible when looking at the inside, It is a bright yellow layer covering most of the inside of the shell, while also featuring corresponding vents to ensure the ventilating properties of the helmet are preserved.
How does it work?
The finished Scott Stego helmet - the yellow liner you can see beneath is the MIPS liner.
When the human head is subjected to an angled impact, the brain slides along a membrane on the inner surface of the skull. This freedom to slide reduces the rotational forces transmitted to the brain. MIPS mimics this system by introducing a low friction layer between the head and the helmet. In experimental and numerical tests this low friction layer has shown dramatic reductions in rotational forces transmitted to the brain under angled impacts. Do you see MIPS in other types of helmets?
We have incorporated MIPS into both mountain bike and city bike helmets. The reason we have done this is not because MIPS is better suited to these applications. It is purely due to the fact that we felt that these type of riders are more receptive to the message of increased safety, and therefor would be more willing to pay the additional cost for a MIPS equipped helmet. We believe in the technology, and feel it has a place in all helmet types. Due to this we have developed a strong partnership with MIPS to ensure the integration of their technology works seamlessly in all of our helmets, and all of the key qualities our customers expect are preserved. The big challenge is to offer MIPS in models where the customers will value the benefits enough to spend the extra amount (typically a €30 upcharge over an equivalent non MIPS equipped helmet). We are committed to continue to release new models with MIPS in the coming years.www.mipshelmet.comwww.scott-sports.com