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NEWS
Student Designs Safety Helmet
April 1, 2008

Brycen Spencer, an engineering student at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, has designed a safety helmet that could help save the lives of thousands of outdoor sports enthusiasts involved in accidents each year. His Wireless Impact Guardian, or WIG, which signals for help even when the wearer is unconscious, is a giant leap forward in helmet safety.

“The WIG will be activated when it is buckled on,” says Mr. Spencer. “If you fall and hit your head, the helmet will detect that and beep for a minute or so. If you don’t turn it off, WIG sends for help, either directly to 911 or to a third-party service that relays the emergency call to 911. Included with the message will be a GPS location giving your geographical coordinates so the emergency team knows precisely where you are.”

Nicknamed “The OnStar of Helmets,” Mr. Spencer’s WIG would be a boon for motorcyclists, bicyclists, ATV enthusiasts and others, especially those venturing into remote areas. There were 113,900 ATV injuries requiring emergency room treatment in 2002 and 76,000 motorcycle-related injuries in 2004. In many instances, victims had to wait a long time for emergency response crews to find them.

At this time, the WIG has no competition. A similar invention on the market is a personal locator beacon that skiers and others use in case of accidents, but this device must be manually activated. There is also a football helmet that detects if the wearer suffers a concussion, but nothing else on the market phones for help automatically.


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