What does Mips mean?

For us, Mips means a safety system for helmets developed with the intention to reduce rotational motion to the brain in the event of a crash. Research shows that rotational motion involves a greater risk of brain damage than straight impacts. The purpose of Mips® safety system is to add safety in the event of that kind of accident.

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The Mips® safety system is built into helmets and designed to help reduce rotational motion to the head that could occur in so-called oblique impacts.

We have over 25 years of research into rotational motion and helmet safety, and an abundance of studies and data that say the same thing: in the vast majority of accidents in which someone hits their head, the impact is oblique, and an oblique impact entails increased the risk of brain damage. The same thing goes for objects falling from above at, for instance, a building site: they cause an oblique impact – even if you are standing still.

Mips means addressing the rotational motion

If you ride, bike or ski and fall and hit your head, you are likely to experience an oblique impact. The moment your head hits the ground at an angle, rotational motion occurs which can make the head rotate more or less, depending on the impacting object or surface. The energy from the impact can be directed further into the head, where it can cause injury to the brain. Rotational motion is thus the result of oblique impacts to the head.

The brain is more sensitive to oblique impacts versus straight impacts. Oblique impacts are also much more common. But most helmets on the market today are only tested and approved for straight impacts, even though these kinds of accidents are far less common.

Designed to help reduce rotational motion to the head in oblique impacts

Everything revolves around Mips low-friction layer. It mimics the brain’s own protective system, which allows the brain to move slightly inside the head. The Mips system is designed to work on the same principle. The low-friction layer is built into the helmet and makes the energy-absorbing layers (the “padding”) mobile so that the head can move 10–15 mm inside the helmet on impact.

Mips® safety system – a bright idea based in science

Mips is a technology that is based on many years of research into the brain and brain damage, and we are firmly rooted in science. Our story begins in 1995, when brain surgeon Hans von Holst from Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden, began researching helmet construction. He based his research on the realization that the helmets available at the time did not offer sufficient protection against brain damage. He contacted the KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm to initiate biomechanical research on the prevention of head and neck injuries.

50,000 helmet tests, 250 patents

We conduct research in our own lab and have carried out over 50,000 helmet tests over the years. The R&D process is one of the cornerstones of our commercial success and our view is that we possess market-leading expertise in our field. As of December 31, 2021, we had over 250 patents in more than 40 patent families.

Our R&D projects include innovation for products and processes. Among other things, we develop better materials and components, as well as more efficient test and production processes. Mips has a strong R&D organization with solid expertise in research, development, and technology.

Increased awareness of rotational movement

Over time, at Mips we have had the pleasure of noting a growing awareness of rotational movement and its possible consequences. This growing awareness entails increased interest from many organizations and regulatory authorities’ working groups that work with helmet standards. We are also seeing increased demand from consumers. In 2021, over 140 brands offered helmets featuring the Mips® safety system on the market.

Rotational motion – now a factor in helmet testing

As further evidence of increased awareness that protection against rotational movement is important, consumer tests have begun to consider and adopt oblique impacts in their methods of testing and comparing different helmets. The American testing institute Virginia Tech has introduced rotational movement into its test protocol for snow and bike helmets. Several leading European insurance companies conduct annual tests of bike helmets and have included protection against oblique impacts in their assessments since 2012. At Mips, we are happy that our work is getting more and more attention.

So, what does Mips mean? Now you know that, among other things, it means a safety system for helmets, designed to help direct the rotational motion away from the head.

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