Having noticed the rise in attention being paid to football-related concussions, a Midlothian inventor decided to use his noggin.
Allen Bancroft, a local engineer with a background in robotics design, developed the NogginLOC: a fastener meant to hold a football helmet strap in place during even the roughest of plays.
Bancroft, a graduate of DeVry Institute and the University of Notre Dame, saw a need in the market for an improved strap to help keep helmets on players’ heads and to potentially help reduce the number of football-related concussions.
He has a patent pending on the device and is beginning to market the product to manufacturers.
“We have football helmets with air bags and earpieces, but for decades no one has thought to change the design of the chin strap,” said Bancroft, 46. “It’s amazing to me that we can put someone on the moon but we can’t keep a helmet on a person’s head.”
He said he invested about $2,000 in parts and started working on the idea in his basement laboratory about two year ago. Bancroft went through about five NogginLOC prototypes before settling on a design late last year.
Bancroft has plans to market the NogginLOC to manufacturers that supply football helmets players from high school to the NFL.
He’s said he’s secured an endorsement from former Redskins linebacker Ken Harvey.
“I’ve never played football a day in my life, but I saw a real need for something like this,” Bancroft said.
The fastener has multiple uses, such as securing leashes and clothes. But Bancroft said he wanted to focus on the football helmet market first because of the pressing need to reduce concussions. Attention to the long-term effects of concussions has increased in recent years amid the deaths of several former NFL players.
Just last week, a National Institutes of Health study found that Junior Seau, a former NFL linebacker who committed suicide in May, suffered from a kind of brain damage that stems from repeated head trauma.
“You’re never going to hear me say it’s guaranteed that you won’t get a concussion if you use this technology,” Bancroft said. “But I don’t think there’s a reason why we should ever see someone’s helmet fly off during a game again.”