Shr Flex (Frontal Head Restraint) by Tom Myers
2016 - 2017, Golden A' Sports, Entertainment and Recreation Equipment Design Award Winner
Deficiencies in the 20-year-old design direction of established Frontal Head Restraints has limited their market acceptance. This is why upper neck injuries remain the single largest cause of racing fatalities. Initial ideation identified a novel product development opportunity to address these preventable racing deaths. It inspired the detailed design of the SHR Flex - one which overcomes market-limiting problems of existing products and meets rigorous biomechanical performance demands.
SHR Flex protects racecar competitors from severe or fatal upper neck injuries in high-impact crashes. Ordinarily it is unobtrusive, does not limit racers helmet motions, and automatically adapts to any body type and seating configuration. In an impact its unique articulated low profile design uses kinematics to activate into a biomechanical optimized restraint configuration. Integrated into a body contouring foundation, it provides racers an unprecedented combination of safety, comfort and fit.
Design Challenges
To achieve the desired market penetration needed to advance racer safety, the brief required the SHR Flex design to optimize weight, enhance racer comfort, simplify selection and use, achieve a low-profile that would not interfere with a racer's normal head motions, and be value engineered to control cost. Further, it needed to demonstrate repeatable robust biomechanical performance during multiple 70g deceleration impact simulations of a 1,500 kg racecar hitting a concrete wall.
Production Technology
Initial ideation identified a preferred design direction which introduced two innovations - a rigid articulating "collar" to manage impact energies, and torso-conforming, flexible, overmolded "legs" to comfortably and reliably anchor the device during an impact. Being total breaks from established approaches, both inventions required extensive modeling for function, form and material properties, with final acceptance criteria established with user trials and high-impact crash test sled testing.
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