We got our inspiration from the Super Bowl!
What it does
The iHelmet detects head injury impact to the user via an accelerometer that is integrated into the helmet. The accelerometer calculates the instant acceleration 66 times per second. The acceleration are compared to two threshold values. The first is an upper limit; if acceleration exceeds this threshold, the user is immediately warned to stop their current activity. The other threshold is a secondary; if the acceleration falls between the two thresholds, the helmet keep a count of this impact. When ten of these lesser impacts are registered, the helmet also warns the user to stop their current activity. The motivation behind this secondary threshold is based on medical research surrounding the importance of sub-concussive hits. Although they are individually "safe", many of these hits over time can be worse than a fully concussive single hit. Together, the two systems to warn users can help protect the user from chronic brain trauma.
Challenges we ran into
The main challenge was that we needed to sample three acceleration components at the same time and at a high speed to meet the requirements of our project. Most microcontrollers can't meet this requirement (e.g. Arduino has only one built-in ADC) and that's why we started to investigate the STM32F4 microcontroller, which has three ADCs. We also had to calibrate the analog output of our accelerometer, which required preliminary data collection and regression.
Moreover, due to a default setting in Autodesk Inventor, our 3D-printed parts were printed in inches instead of centimeters. We did not find out about the issue for several hours and this delay caused us to change our plans for the order we were going to go through the design process. The delay forced us to spend more time on other aspects and these areas were more refined when we actually received our correctly-sized parts.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
We actually built the entire thing out! YEAH!!! Also, we may help people with potential brain injury in the future.
What we learned
We learned about the power of teamwork! (And also the power of foam and duct tape!!1!)
What's next for iHelmet
The helmet itself (as opposed to the functional mechanism) needs refinement. With more time, our prototyped helmet would evolve into a more aesthetically pleasing and realistic design.