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NFC Enables Helmets to Store and Share Health Data

POC Sports' new cycle and ski helmets will include a built-in Near Field Communication tag and an app to create a record of important health information that users can access via their smartphones in the event of an accident or other health emergency.
By Claire Swedberg
Sep 20, 2019

Sports apparel and safety gear company POC has developed a new line of helmets with built-in Near Field Communication (NFC) functionality to share medical information with emergency responders about a helmet's wearer. The system, consisting of an NFC tag built into the helmet, as well as an app that enables a user to create a medical profile written to that tag, will be released with two biking helmets and one ski helmet during the coming months.

The solution, known as the NFC Medical ID Chip, is intended to allow an individual's helmet to speak for that person if he or she is unable to do so. The company hopes the system will help the sick or injured get the healthcare assistance they require quickly, by providing what could be relevant information that responders would need to know, such as their blood type and any medical conditions they might have.

Left to right: the Obex Backcountry SPIN, Tectal Race SPIN NFC and Ventral Air SPIN NFC helmets
The Tectal Race SPIN NFC and Ventral Air SPIN NFC bike helmets are slated for release in early 2020, while the Obex Backcountry SPIN ski helmet will be released in October of this year. Integration of the 13.56 MHz NFC chip (which is compliant with the ISO 14443 standard) and the app that manages the collected data is provided by Swedish technology firm My ICE Info AB (twICEme).

POC was launched in Stockholm, Sweden, in 2005 to provide safety helmets for alpine skiers, as well as for mountain and road biking. The company has focused on improving safety technology for bikers and skiers wearing its helmets. "Since day one," says Oscar Huss, POC's head of product, "POC has been committed to its mission to protect lives and reduce the consequences of accidents for athletes and anyone inspired to be one."

The company's goal, Huss explains, is to make safe helmets by using the latest materials and technologies, "even if that means doing something that has never been done before." Therefore, it has included Recco reflectors and a multiple-directional impact protection system (MIPS), as well as incorporating aramid fiber into its products, explains Brendan Murphey, POC's North American marketing manager. The latest drive, he notes, is the use of NFC—which may be a first for the cycle and ski helmet industry. The NFC tag, Huss says, "provides critical data to first-responders following an accident, essentially speaking for you when you may not be able to."

USER COMMENTS

Simon Boland 2019-10-15 06:57:13 PM
This is a great idea and it's a good application of RFID. A few thoughts I have here. 1) Customers who rent gear or the rental ski stores will need a way for someone to enter their details into the tag. I'm guessing the app will allow for this at the time of purchase. 2) How will an emergency services worker know to scan the helmet? Will they need to have the app installed on their phone? If the data is an NDEF format then this may not be necessary. 3) Does the information on the tag constitute personal health information? And does it need to be protected and what compliance is needed?

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