Smart Football Helmet Monitors Body Temp, Saves Lives

Heat stroke kills players every year. But a new helmet gives coaches a novel sideline monitoring system.


The greatest danger that football players face is a bone-crushing hit, right? But the stats tell a different story: Since 1995, 39 football players, most in high school, have died of heat stroke. And it’s not the province of psycho coaches in Texas either: In 2001, Minnesota Vikiings lineman Korey Stringer died, with a body temperature of 108.8 degrees.


As Popular Science reports, a new football helmet could finally end those tragedies.

Hothead Technologies invented the Heat Observation Technology (HOT) system, an in-helmet temperature monitor that will alert coaches when a player is overheated. Inside the helmet’s padding, near the players temporal artery, the monitoring comes from a
thermistor, whose electrical resistance varies with temperature. (Which sounds fancy, but almost all metals have that property; thermosistors merely have a more regular resistance pattern, which is easier to model.) A built-in radio transmits temperatures to a PDA monitored on the sidelines. Hothead, apparently, is “as accurate as a rectal thermometer” but obviously far more useful to football players.

football helmet

The service costs $50 per player per year, plus a $100 team charge for the PDA. The company is already negotiating with the NFL, and helmet companies have already placed 10,000 orders in 2009. They expect to sell 400,000 units by 2011.

Read more at Pop Sci

About the author

Cliff was director of product innovation at Fast Company, founding editor of Co.Design, and former design editor at both Fast Company and Wired.