Designing out distancing

A new design for a cost-effective, lightweight PPE helmet could help reduce the need for social distancing.

The need for social distancing creates a huge number of problems in all walks of life. It therefore follows that anything that helps to overcome these allows working life to continue almost as normal and is to be welcomed.

This is why British inventor and design engineer Alan Meeks and Steve Jordan, an entrepreneur and inventor, have turned their hands to inventing a cost-effective lightweight PPE helmet which will remove the need to social distance and help people get on with their lives during this unprecedented time.

The hyperLID is a new lightweight, air filtering comfortable helmet that could become a mass-produced protective solution for NHS staff, carers, and anyone else requiring PPE and distributed to people so they are protected from Covid-19 and future pandemics.

From its 3D printed prototype, it is estimated to be a quarter of the weight of a crash helmet, comfortable and able to be worn for long periods of time and easily mass produced with an ABS plastic injected or vacuum formed shell which would see the unit cost well below £10 per unit.

The hyperLID has smooth external surfaces that are easily wiped down with disinfectant, a spring loaded chin piece that moves away from the face when released to avoid possible contaminated areas coming in contact with the face, a sealed neck area with a lightweight and comfortable neoprene collar that has a large flap at the front which is fixed with Velcro so allowing normal head movement.

A visor is pulled in tight with toggle clips to create a seal when closed but can be opened when it is safe to do so.

There is also good audibility as the shell is lightweight, so hearing and being heard is not a problem, and there are air cooling capabilities to keep the wearer comfortable.

Steve Jordan, co-founder, hyperTunnel, said: “With people starting to return to work, commuting on public transport, going to the shops and countries opening up their borders and people starting to plan their holidays, the biggest question on people’s minds is how do they travel around safely? And with the astronomical cost of PPE and the images of frontline healthcare staff that stick in all our minds showing them struggling with current, uncomfortable, under-performing PPE offerings, we knew that with our collection of innovative entrepreneurial engineers, we had to invent something in response. We never want to be in this totally ‘beyond our control’ situation ever again.

“Our vision has been “Back to normal life, now”. No more social distancing required. We went back through history and with the fear of mustard gas being used against civilians in the Second World War, as in the First, everyone in Britain was given a gas mask in a cardboard box, to protect them from gas bombs, which could be dropped during air raids. By September 1939, some 38 million gas masks had been distributed to families, with posters reminding people to always carry their gas mask. People were even fined if they were caught without their gas masks but thankfully, they were never needed.

“With hyperLID, people will be able to move around locally, nationally and indeed internationally in a confident, operationally easy and cost-effective way. With effective and simple barrier management we can control and supress any outbreak, now and in the future.

“We desperately need a solution to the current pandemic but just as important is to make sure that we never have another pandemic. The virus can only prevail if it can spread - if not it dies out. Herd immunity, whether natural or vaccine-based, stops the spread. However, the time to herd immunity is too long. Therefore, the only alternatives are separation ie lockdown, or effective barrier control by putting up a barrier that the virus cannot cross. Barrier control is the answer, and is the only answer, and it can be reasonably convenient, low cost and as good as herd immunity without the risk and time required. It could even be fun and cool with children wearing the latest Disney or Marvel themed designs on their products!”

Alan Meeks, hyperTunnel’s senior design engineer, has spent a career providing a conduit for great ideas to achieve reality through world-class design.

Alan’s design of the cordless kettle, the Storm Trooper headgear in which actors spent extended periods of time, and the leading Masuri cricket helmets, which are the most used helmets in professional cricket globally, has meant that he has been able to swiftly design and engineer these life changing, mass market products.

Alan Meeks, senior design engineer, hyperTunnel added: “Our invention is about protecting people and their families as they travel around and protecting keyworkers by putting a lid on coronavirus in a cost-effective way.

“With hyperLID, our thinking was: if cricketers, skiers, cyclists and American footballers all wear well-designed helmets specific to their needs, why aren’t doctors, nurses, and healthcare workers having access to such protection to remove the need to social distance? Also, what about people needing or wishing to return safely to their office, laboratory, shop, warehouse or leisure space? So, we developed an exceptionally lightweight activewear helmet that is easily branded and designed to protect people from a different kind of impact while treating patients and the vulnerable.”

Now the duo has taken their invention, designs and prototypes to potential manufacturers, along with the UK government, the aviation industry, train operating companies, Formula 1 teams, engineering firms, the NHS and others with a view to their life changing concepts becoming a reality as swiftly as possible.

Steve Jordan concluded: “People need such barrier items that provide “herd protection” yesterday. Time is of the essence. We are having conversations with people across many industries to come together to take these designs, manufacturer and distribute them cost-effectively, instantly improving the way people go about their daily lives. Whether they are travelling to see loved ones, going abroad for work or pleasure, or are the incredible front line workers and carers who need to safely carry out their work, we can’t wait to see our designs extend to anyone who just wants certainty that they can travel or work safely without the need to social distance.”