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Supercomputers Analyze Football Concussion Effects

By CIOinsight  |  Posted 11-18-2010 Print
Chip giant Intel and football helmet maker Riddell are using supercomputers to simulate and eventually reduce the effect of on-field collisions on the brain.

At the SC10 supercomputing conference in New Orleans, Intel announced that its supercomputers have been able to simulate the way a football player's brain responds to collisions.

Intel is collaborating with Riddell, which for many years has been the official manufacturer of helmets for the NFL.

Intel is also working with Dartmouth's Thayer School of Engineering, Wayne State University, University of Northern Colorado and Texas State University-San Marcos on the technology.

The goal of the project is to enable quick evaluation of the injured player, according to John Hengeveld, Intel's marketing director for the HPC (high performance computing) group.

For the tests, researchers examined helmet to helmet contact and helmet to ground contact, Hengeveld told eWEEK.

In its demonstration at the conference on Nov. 15, Intel used Xeon workstations and clusters to compute and assess the extent to which an injury could occur.

The partner universities created computer models, and Riddell contributed its proprietary in-helmet telemetry system called Riddell HITS (Head Impact Telemetry System). The technology is able to indicate when an impact will cause a concussion.

Riddell's Sideline Response System software draws the information from the helmets for later analysis or alerts team personnel on the sidelines if the player is in danger from an impact. The application displays the angle and force of each hit.

"Computer simulations have been instrumental in designing improved brain injury criteria," said Dr. Igor Szczyrba of the University of Northern Colorado, in a statement. "In the near future, they can also help doctors diagnose actual brain injuries."


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