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The Upstate Economy
A series, by Ellen Abbott, on the issue of concussions in CNY.

Regionally developed helmet technology attracting manufacturers

An upstate company has developed a system for motorcycle helmets that could have applications for both defensive driving and sports. A system of sensors alerts riders when the helmet has damage that might not be visible, but could compromise safety.

More than 4,500 people are killed in motorcycle accidents in the U.S. each year according to the Centers for Disease Control, and studies show most of those accidents occur because riders are less visible than cars. The sensor system is part of a prototype helmet designed to make motorcyclists more visible, and safer.

Pittsford, NY inventor David Werner and engineer David Zima have developed a new design that increases visibility by integrating brake and turn signals onto the back of a helmet.

But, Werner says it's the helmet's internal sensor system that really is interesting manufacturers. He says their system uses very little energy and makes diagnosing injuries like concussion much faster.

"Using the same kind of accelerometer technology and some other technology that we've developed, we can determine concussive injury and we can report it wirelessly to the sidelines, to a medic," said Werner. "it could be used in the military."

Werner says the technology could have a huge range of applications in the future, including in sports where it's estimated that 62,000 concussions occur annually in high school contact sports alone.