Don’t be a Hothead

Posted by Ken Lynch on Wed, Oct 20, 2010 @ 07:34 AM

Tags: RFID, Sensors, Sports & Entertainment, Environmental Monitoring

RFID-Enabled Helmet Designed to Reduce Cases of Heatstroke

Hothead RFID HelmetTo demonstrate how hard football players hit each other, ESPN Sports Science suited up Bruce Campbell, an offensive guard for the National Football League’s Oakland Raiders, and had him run full speed at a tackling dummy.

The hit generated over 2700 pounds of force.  

After a weekend of vicious hits like the one demonstrated by Campbell, the NFL announced yesterday that it will begin suspending players for dangerous and flagrant hits and tackles - mainly those involving helmets. 

While there may not be an RFID application to prevent violent collisions between football players, there is one to monitor the temperature of players on the field to make sure they don’t overheat.

Developed by Atlanta-based Hothead Technologies and Kennesaw State University, the wireless heat monitoring system includes a lightweight, impact-resistant transponder with temperature-sensing capabilities embedded inside football helmets.  With a range of up to 500 meters, the system measures body temperature and transmits the information to a handheld computer monitored by a trainer or medical staff.  The promise of the system is to prevent incidents of heatstroke, the on-field cause of death of Minnesota Vikings star Korey Stringer in 2001.

Unique in its application?  Not at all - like many other uses of RFID, this solution could be applied to other markets.  Hothead Technologies is reportedly considering marketing the smart-helmet to the military and public services organizations like firefighters where heatstroke is also a threat. 

There’s Something in the Air

Posted by Ken Lynch on Wed, Oct 13, 2010 @ 05:00 AM

Tags: RFID, Sensors, Environmental Monitoring

RFID Detects Airborne Toxins

GE SensorIf only manufacturers and their plant workers had access to innovative solutions like this decades ago so they could avoid breathing harmful asbestos and other cancer-causing airborne toxins.

GE Global Research won an award for its “Wearable Organic Electronic Film RFID Sensors for Monitoring of Airborne Toxicants,” by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. The goal of their research was to develop a sensor for chemical and biological detection in complex environments. The impetus for this development was that existing sensors would yield inaccurate readings and false positives in these types of environments, rendering them ineffective. The team set out to develop a sensor that would give more accurate readings.  

They succeeded.

A new battery-free RFID-based transducer platform uses low cost, passive RFID sensors for chemical monitoring and analysis. Through a coated sensing film, the RFID sensor helps identify and quantify volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in complex environments. Complex environments can be air in the workplace, in a city or in a battlefield, for example.

The detection and isolation of certain toxins is achieved by the combination of: recognition of vapors by the sensing film; the new design of sensor transducer to fully probe the vapor-film interactions; and multivariate analysis of the data from the RFID antenna structure.

What does this mean for you?

Based on their successful project, the research team is now developing a prototype for a wearable, wireless, passive RFID sensor system. Because the sensors are very small, they can be part of a person’s identification badge and warn them as they enter an area with harmful toxins that are not otherwise detected by human senses. And if it can be used to detect a toxin, it can most likely be used to detect changing levels of oxygen to help workers stay away from danger zones.  

The biggest potential breakthrough with this invention could very well be its ability to serve as an early warning sign for diseases. By analyzing exhaled air from medical patients, the sensors can identify volatile biomarkers for diseases like diabetes, emphysema and metabolic disorders.

Now that’s our kind of invention.  We’ll be anxiously awaiting the next phase of the project. 

[Photo credit: GE Global Research]

Subscribe by Email

Most Popular Posts

Browse by Tag

Ask the Experts 

Do you have a question about one of our products that you'd like us to answer on our Forum?

Post Your Question