Title:
SHELL FOR A PROTECTIVE HELMET
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
An improved protective shell for a helmet, the shell comprising angled panels forming pyramid-like surface structures covering the surface of the helmet. Each pyramid-like structure comprises three or more panels conjoining to form an apex. In one embodiment, each of the panels is a triangle having a base and a point that conjoins adjacent panels, thereby forming the apex. The limited number of apex points and the orientation of the angled panels reduce the probability that an impacting object will deliver a square blow to the helmet. The probability is increased that such blows will be only glancing in nature, thereby reducing the severity of the blow and head injury to the wearer.



Inventors:
Harris, Lenard (Jacksonville, FL, US)
Application Number:
14/265937
Publication Date:
12/04/2014
Filing Date:
04/30/2014
Assignee:
HARRIS LENARD
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A42B3/06
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:



Primary Examiner:
NGUYEN, BAO-THIEU L
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Dwayne L. Bentley, Esq. of (Brooklyn, NY, US)
Claims:
I claim:

1. A shell for a protective helmet, where the shell is intended to deflect the impact force caused by objects striking the helmet, said shell comprising: a plurality of surface pyramids, each pyramid comprising three or more panels, each panel having a base and a point, wherein in each pyramid the points of the panels conjoin at the apex of the pyramid.

2. The shell of claim 1, wherein the shell comprises at least one three-sided pyramid.

3. The shell of claim 1, wherein the shell comprises at least one four-sided pyramid.

4. The shell of claim 1, wherein the shell comprises at least one five-sided pyramid.

5. The shell of claim 1, wherein the shell comprises at least one six-sided pyramid.

6. The shell of claim 1, wherein the shell comprises at least one eight-sided pyramid.

7. The shell of claim 1, wherein the helmet has a geometric center, and at least one pyramid has an apex that is at radius from the center that is greater than the radius of the base of the panels that form the pyramid.

8. A shell for a protective helmet, where the shell is intended to deflect the impact force caused by objects striking the helmet, said shell comprising: at least three flat surface panels, wherein three or more panels conjoin at a common point, each of said three or more panels being oriented in a different plane such that the common point forms an apex in relation to the conjoining three or more panels.

9. The protective shell of claim 8, wherein the shell further comprises a plurality of apexes.

10. The protective shell of claim 8, wherein at least one of said panels is a three-sided panel.

11. The protective shell of claim 8, wherein at least one of said panels is a four-sided panel.

12. The protective shell of claim 8, wherein at least one of said panels is a five-sided panel.

13. The protective shell of claim 8, wherein at least one of said panels is a six-sided panel.

14. The protective shell of claim 8, wherein at least one of said panels is an eight-sided panel.

15. A shell for a protective helmet, where the shell is intended to deflect the impact force caused by objects striking the helmet, said shell comprising: at least three flat surface panels, wherein three or more panels conjoin at a common point, each of said three or more panels being oriented in a different plane such that the common point forms an apex in relation to the conjoining three or more panels, wherein said panels are made from a hard material adapted to deflect an impact force of an object striking the panels.

16. The shell of claim 15, wherein at least one of said panels is a three-sided panel.

17. The shell of claim 15, wherein at least one of said panels is a four-sided panel.

18. The shell of claim 15, wherein at least one of said panels is a five-sided panel.

19. The shell of claim 15, wherein at least one of said panels is a six-sided panel.

20. The shell of claim 15, wherein at least one of said panels is an eight-sided panel.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION

This application claims priority to and the benefit of U.S. Provisional Patent Application Ser. No. 61/829,623, filed on May 31, 2013, the entire contents of which are incorporated herein by this reference.

BACKGROUND

(1) Technical Field

This invention relates generally to protective headwear, and more particularly to an improved outer shell for a helmet, where the shell reduces the wearer's head trauma caused by impact to the shell.

(2) Background

Protective helmets are intended to reduce the wearer's head injuries or head trauma caused by impact to the helmet. Injury causing impact forces are delivered by impact from a variety of objects, such as falling objects at a construction site, colliding helmets of opposing football players, or flying projectiles such as baseballs or other objects. Protective helmets are worn by construction workers and participants in many sports, such as football, baseball, lacrosse, bicycling, horseback riding, skateboarding, skiing, and many other sports and events. As one example, football and other contact sports can be a highly dangerous activity due in part to extreme forces impacting players in the head region. To reduce injury, football organizations mandate the use of safety helmets. The use of helmets can greatly reduce the trauma and resulting injury associated with blows to the head. Many football players and other athletes suffer concussions, memory loss, spinal and neck injuries, and similar conditions during games and practices. Although players wear helmets, the helmets are not ideally designed to prevent as many injuries as possible. There is a need for improved safety helmets for athletes.

The present invention is directed to an improved protective helmet, and more specifically to an improved outer shell that reduces the force of impact transferred to the wearer's head.

SUMMARY

The present protective shell comprises an arrangement of flat panels oriented a different angles to form intersection points, or an apex, at locations where three or more panels intersect. In one embodiment, the panels are triangles that form a multi-sided pyramid-like feature on the surface of the shell, where the pyramid culminates at the apex. In this embodiment, the pyramid could have three or more sides, or panels, for each apex. Each panel comprises a base and a point, with the respective points conjoining at the apex. The base of each panel has a shorter radius from the center of the helmet than does the apex. The shell comprises multiple apex points dispersed about the outer surface of the shell.

In another embodiment, the shell comprises at least three flat surface panels, wherein three or more panels conjoin at a common point, each of said three or more panels being oriented in a different plane such that the common point forms an apex in relation to the conjoining three or more panels. In this embodiment, the panels are polygons having or more sides. An apex can be formed by combining panels of differently shaped polygons, such as by conjoining three different panels having three-sides, four-sides, and six-sides, respectively.

The irregular surface caused by the raised apex points minimizes the points on the shell where the helmets of opposing football players can collide in square contact or substantially square contact. The present shell increases the probability that opposing football players will deliver only glancing helmet-to-helmet blows to each other, thereby reducing the probability that the wearer of the helmet will experience serious head trauma or injury.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 shows a side view of a typical helmet comprising one embodiment of the protective shell taught herein.

FIG. 2 shows a front view of a typical helmet comprising one embodiment of the protective shell taught herein.

FIG. 3 is a cross section view of a typical helmet comprising one embodiment of the protective shell taught herein.

FIG. 4 is a partial cross section view showing the geometry of typical impact of two helmets comprising one embodiment of the protective shell taught herein.

FIG. 5 is a partial cross section view showing the geometry of typical impact of two helmets comprising one embodiment of the protective shell taught herein.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

With reference to the drawings, the invention will now be described with regard for the best mode and the preferred embodiment. In general, the protective shell disclosed herein is configured for reducing head trauma caused by impact with another helmet or projectile. The embodiments disclosed herein are meant for illustration and not limitation of the invention. An ordinary practitioner will appreciate that it is possible to create many variations of the following embodiments without undue experimentation.

Protective helmets, and therefore the present protective shell, are typically fitted to the wearers head, and these helmets are therefore substantially spherical or substantially round in shape. For the purposes of this discussion, the term “center” refers to the geometric center of the spherical or round helmet, and the term “radius” refers to the linear distance from the center to a given point.

The present protective shell is suitable for use with a variety of protective helmets, such as helmets used in the construction industry or a variety of sporting events, such as football, baseball, biking, skiing, and other activities. For the purposes of discussion and illustration of the protective shell, and not for the purpose of limiting the scope of the invention, the following description is set forth in the context of football helmets. An ordinary practitioner will readily appreciate that the principles of the protective shell discussed herein are suitable for adaptation to any of the foregoing uses, as well as many others.

Football is a sport that requires a high degree of athleticism, and due to the unpredictable player maneuvering in the game any player could be hit in the helmet from any angle at any time. However, the traditional player alignment on the field and the athletic fundamentals of the game dictate that the majority of head impact events experienced by football players are to the forehead area, top of the helmet, and the back of the helmet. For example, ball carriers often lower their heads when being tackled, thereby exposing the forehead area and the top of the helmet to impact from the helmet of the tackler. As another example, receivers are frequently hit from behind when catching a pass, and these players often receive impact to the back of the helmet. In short, although any point on a football helmet can receive contact, there are certain zones of the helmet that are struck more frequently and more violently than others. The present shell 10 is therefore adaptable in these high impact zones in order to minimize the head trauma experienced by players receiving head impact.

Referring to FIG. 1 and FIG. 2, the outer surface of the shell 10 comprises an arrangement of flat panels 20 oriented a different angles to form intersection points, or an apex, 21 at locations where three or more panels 20 intersect. For most embodiments of the outer shell, the apex 21 is generally located at a greater radius from the center of the helmet than any point on the panels 20 that form the apex 21.

In one embodiment, the panels 20 are triangles that form a multi-sided pyramid-like feature on the surface of the shell 10, where the pyramid culminates at the apex 21. In this embodiment, the pyramid could have three or more sides, or panels 20, for each apex 21. Each panel 20 comprises a base 22 and a point 23, with the point 23 culminating at the apex 21. The base 22 has a shorter radius from the center of the helmet than does the apex 21. In other embodiments, the shell 10 comprises panels 20 that are polygons having more than three sides, such as pentagons, hexagons, octagons, or the like. Referring to FIG. 3, the shell 10 overlays the conventional padding 11 of the football helmet.

The shell 10 comprises multiple apex 21 points dispersed about the outer surface of the shell 10. Adjacent apexes 21 may have bases 22 in contact with each other, or there may be a space or gap between the respective bases 22. The radius of each apex 21 is selected to ensure that each apex 21 is raised a sufficient distance from its base 22 such that the panels 20 create a pronounced irregular surface of the shell 10.

In another embodiment, the shell 10 comprises at least three flat surface panels 20, wherein three or more panels 20 conjoin at a common point, each of said three or more panels 20 being oriented in a different plane such that the common point forms an apex 21 in relation to the conjoining three or more panels 20. In this embodiment, the panels 20 are polygons having 3 or more sides. While the number of sides varies according to the optimum use of the particular application, three-, four-, five-, six-, or eight-sided panels 20 are suitable for most applications. An apex 21 can be formed by combining panels 20 of differently shaped polygons. For example, an apex 21 may be formed by conjoining three different panels 20 having three-sides, four-sides, and six-sides, respectively.

The irregular surface caused by the raised apex 21 points minimizes the points on the shell where the helmets of opposing football players can collide in square contact or substantially square contact. More specifically, conventional football helmets have a substantially smooth, round surface. Because of this geometry, there are theoretically an infinite number of points on the surface of a conventional football helmet that can receive square contact from the helmet of an opposing player. Square contact occurs when the impact force vector caused by the opposing player is perpendicular to the surface of the receiving player's helmet. By contrast, the present shell minimizes the number of points on the helmet where opposing players can deliver respective helmet-to-helmet blows in which the respective force vectors are perpendicular to the surface of the shell 10. In other words, the present shell 10 increases the probability that opposing football players will deliver only glancing helmet-to-helmet blows to each other. Due to the glancing nature of these blows, the magnitude of the impact force is reduced, thereby reducing the probability that the wearer of the helmet will experience serious head trauma or injury.

Referring to FIG. 4 and FIG. 5, the glancing nature of the impact vectors is illustrated. When two helmets 31, 32 collide, a first helmet 31 delivers a blow described by impact force vector I. If the collision occurs at an apex 21 on the respective helmets 31, 32, then the resulting force to the players' heads is no more severe than for players wearing conventional football helmets. However, there is a very low probability of the contact point occurring at the apex 21 points on the respective helmets 31, 32. Instead, off-center collisions, illustrated in FIG. 5, are much more common. In these off-center hits, the impact vector I delivered by the first helmet 31 delivers only a glancing blow to the second helmet 32. More specifically, the apex 21 of the first helmet 31 contacts the angled panel 20 of the second helmet 32. Thus, instead of a perpendicular force vector n delivered to the second player's head, a force vector p is delivered. The magnitude of force p is lower than the magnitude of force n because the impact vector I contacts the second helmet 32 at an angled orientation than glances off of the angled panel 20 of the second helmet 32.

The present shell 10 is suitable for use with other safety features of conventional football helmets, such features including padding, accelerometers to measure the severity of impact, dampers to reduce the dynamic effect of impact, or other such devices. The panels 20 in the shell 10 are made of a durable hard material, such as fiberglass, plastic, carbon fiber, or other such material. The material should be hard enough so that it does not crush under the magnitude of impact force vector I.

The foregoing embodiments are merely representative of the protective shell and not meant for limitation of the invention. For example, one having ordinary skill in the art would readily appreciate that there are several embodiments and configurations of the panels 20 and apex 21 points that render the shell adaptable for alternate uses. Consequently, it is understood that equivalents and substitutions for certain elements and components set forth above are part of the invention described herein, and the true scope of the invention is set forth in the claims below.