Innovations: STREET SMARTThink all helmets cramp your style? Here’s a heads-up…
Combining business with his passion to change the world
Protective foam? We can’t get our heads around that…
“Impact foams are used in all sorts of sporting equipment,” explains JD Chase, creator of Impact Reduction Apparel. “We layered foam – the same as in NFL and NHL helmets – with polycarbonate and sweat-wicking textiles to produce brand-new tech that disperses impact better than anything else on the market. And we made it fit into caps.”
Seems like a no-brainer. Were there any issues?
“Some customers didn’t have any wiggle room in their hats and it made the foam uncomfortable. It’s important that you listen to consumers, so we redesigned the tech to be implemented directly in the ball cap. The new design is almost unnoticeable.”
But what’s wrong with regular helmets?
“Helmets don’t always look great, so not everyone wears them. Back when I was snowboarding in 2007, I wore a squirrel hunter’s hat, but I wished it had padding, in case I got nailed by out-of-control skiers. Then I had the idea. Four years later, I met with an engineer from NASSCO [National Steel and Shipbuilding Company]. He was inspired and got involved.”
- The “smart-molecule” foam is soft and pliable, but hardens on impact, reducing G-force by around 70 per cent.
- This single piece of foam comprises four layers giving impact resistance, reinforcement, comfort, and heat dispersion.
Did you learn anything along the way?
“When there’s risk in a product – for us, the cost of insurance has been prohibitive – there are people who don’t want to take that chance. But there are also people who like innovators and know that innovation is crucial to evolution. The advice I would give to designers out there is: never give up. Use ‘no’ as an opportunity to step back, improve and approach again, until you find people excited enough to get on board.”
Any other ideas floating around in that head?
“Our hope is to work with major apparel companies and to increase demand for the brand in general. The next step is to launch protective clothing to the public; we will be Kickstarting the line any time now. Also, keep an eye out for our owl logo on some of your favourite skate-brand apparel.”