ZERO1 POST-TRIAL REFINEMENTS
IN AUGUST 2016, WE FIELD TESTED THE ZERO1 AT THE UNIVERSITIES OF WASHINGTON AND OREGON. WE LEARNED A LOT, AND IT HELPED US CREATE A BETTER HELMET.
Some of you may have read about the field testing at the Universities of Washington and Oregon in August 2016. I wanted to provide more information about what transpired and why we decided to pull back our helmets.
As part of our product development process, we were fortunate to partner with two leading programs who had shown early interest in the ZERO1 and have a deep commitment to providing the latest and best technology to their student athletes.
At the beginning of fall camp, both programs provided a ZERO1 to every player on the roster. Over the course of the first two weeks, there was a small subset of players who experienced forehead pressure, which caused discomfort over time. We also noticed a higher than expected frequency of upper chinstrap disengagement. These were not issues we had observed in previous testing. Internally, we were deeply disappointed by these findings, so with the support of both programs we decided to pull the helmets back to fix those issues.
This was a difficult decision on many levels. Most of the players liked the helmet and were having a great experience. It was also challenging financially. We are a start-up and depend on a steady stream of support from our investors. A decision to scrap 450 helmets and delay launch is a very meaningful expense. In the end, though, it was the only decision we could make. Our founding mission is to protect athletes and we can only do that by offering the best possible technology.
Our engineering team shook off its disappointment and immediately went to work on refinements. We made the decision Saturday night and Sunday the team got together to start brainstorming ways we could improve the helmet’s performance.
After five weeks of intense work exploring scores of concepts and conducting thousands of impact tests, both issues have now been addressed and the helmet is performing better than ever.
To address the forehead discomfort we observed with certain players, we increased flexibility and added padding in the front of the helmet. To address occasional upper chinstrap disengagement, we changed and reinforced the snap location. Both refinements have now been thoroughly tested and proven both in the lab and on field. You can learn more about the helmet improvements in the accompanying video. And, you can hear about the on-field testing from some of the former NFL and NCAA players who participated on our ZERO1 page.
Developing hardware products can be difficult. While it would have been nice to have completed this journey without obstacles, that’s just not realistic. Our partners helped us identify elements we could improve and we’re grateful for the experience. We can now offer a better helmet than existed last summer. It’s a helmet that performs extremely well, is comfortable, and brings an x-factor — when impacted it just feels better than hard shell helmets.
More than everything else, we’re excited about how the helmet does its job, reducing the severity of head impacts. Internal and independent testing of the ZERO1 is outstanding. The ZERO1 is scheduled to be part of the NFL’s helmet testing this winter, so look for those results to be published in early 2017. Stay tuned, you’ll like what you see.
Thank you for being a part of this journey with us. We are deeply committed to helping athletes participate in contact sports safely and reach their full potential as both athletes and people. We couldn’t do what we do without your support.
DAVE MARVER, CEO/CO-FOUNDER