It is starting to appear to be the future of football helmets can be all about custom-made matches.

In 2017, Riddell, the main helmet producer, unveiled its Precision-Match system, which makes use of digital scans of a participant’s head to create a custom-fit model of the firm’s SpeedFlex helmet. Now Schutt, Riddell’s chief competitor, has answered that by launching its personal custom-fit helmet, the F7 UR1. (“You might be one” with the helmet, get it?) The custom-made helmet was unveiled over the weekend at the annual American Football Coaches Affiliation conference in San Antonio.

“We wish to transfer gamers away from the concept of sporting a small, medium, or massive helmet,” mentioned Glenn Beckmann, Schutt’s director of advertising and marketing communications. “We wish them to assume of it like attire or footwear, the place they are saying, ‘That feels proper.'”

The Schutt system, which was devised in conjunction with the body-mapping firm Falcon Pursuit, differs from Riddell’s in a number of methods. Whereas Riddell makes use of a hand-held scanner to create a digital avatar of the participant’s head, Schutt is utilizing a “becoming helmet” outfitted with 10 sensors that come into bodily contact with the participant’s head. These sensors take 1000’s of measurements to create a strain map of the participant’s head, which is then used to create the custom-fit inside padding. The method, which in accordance to Schutt can create eight.9 trillion totally different matches, is defined in higher element in this video:

Beckmann mentioned Schutt’s system, which is able to initially be focused at the collegiate market, has a number of benefits over Riddell’s. “For one factor, once you take a scan [as Riddell does], the hair performs an enormous position in what the system is studying or seeing, and you’ve got to account for that in your algorithms,” he mentioned. “However our becoming helmet has full contact with the head, and people sensors just about get rid of that drawback.”

As well as, whereas Riddell’s custom-fit helmets retail for $1,700 apiece, Beckmann mentioned Schutt is planning on a worth level of underneath $1,00zero, which ought to make the UR1 a extra enticing possibility for small schools and, ultimately, excessive faculties.

A Riddell spokesperson declined to touch upon the new Schutt rollout, citing an organization coverage of not discussing rivals’ merchandise.

For now, Schutt’s custom-fit system is solely obtainable for the F7 LTD helmet. That is the newest model of the F7, the mannequin with the two flex plates, which was launched in 2017.

Schutt plans to have its gross sales power outfitted with becoming helmets by the starting of Could, at which level gross sales reps will start visiting faculties and mapping gamers’ heads. The lag time from the head-mapping to the supply of a custom-built helmet is about three weeks (comparable to Riddell’s Precision-Match). The purpose is to have the F7 UR1 on the field by the begin of the 2019 season.

The underlying purpose of a custom-made match, of course, is participant security. No helmet can get rid of the danger of head accidents, however a better-fitting helmet is often a safer one. Riddell’s Precision-Match SpeedFlex has carried out properly in that regard — it is at present ranked third in the helmet efficiency scores ready annually by the NFL and the gamers’ union. Schutt’s F7 LTD, which is the mannequin on which the custom-fit UR1 can be based mostly, is at present the top-ranked helmet in Virginia Tech’s revered helmet security scores, and Schutt is hoping the UR1 will obtain a equally spectacular rating when the new NFL take a look at outcomes are launched this spring.

There is not any phrase but about the two different main helmet producers, Vicis and Xenith, popping out with their very own custom-fit methods, however it appears inevitable. Scott Rotier, who beforehand labored as an assistant tools supervisor for the San Francisco 49ers and Washington Redskins and is now the head tools supervisor with the Arizona Hotshots of the new Alliance of American Football, mentioned his gamers typically appreciated the Riddell Precision-Match SpeedFlex and that he expects increasingly gamers will go along with custom-fit helmets in the future.

“It used to be gamers did not need to change what they had been used to sporting,” mentioned Rotier. “However in the previous few years, with all the information about concussions, now gamers have their family asking them what they’re sporting, their wives are asking, their children are asking. So extra of them are keen to change. And it is all about the match, as a result of if a helmet would not match proper, it is not doing its job.”

Beckmann agreed: “We at all times say that the greatest helmet is the one that matches. We might quite have a participant in one other producer’s helmet if it matches higher than ours.”

Paul Lukas loves it when one thing matches excellent. When you like this column, you will in all probability like his Uni Watch Weblog, plus you possibly can observe him on Twitter and Fb and join his mailing listing so you will at all times know when a brand new column has been posted. Need to find out about his Uni Watch Membership Program, take a look at his Uni Watch merchandise, or simply ask him a query? Contact him right here.

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