From Keystone Heights to prime time: Genesis Helmets finishes second in NFL safety competition

By Don Coble
Posted 2/3/21

KEYSTONE HEIGHTS – Although Joe Condon and Dr. Mark Horstemeyer were selected from hundreds of applicants to make a pitch to the NFL for their revolutionary football helmet, their appearance on the …

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From Keystone Heights to prime time: Genesis Helmets finishes second in NFL safety competition


KEYSTONE HEIGHTS – Although Joe Condon and Dr. Mark Horstemeyer were selected from hundreds of applicants to make a pitch to the NFL for their revolutionary football helmet, their appearance on the NFL Network Tuesday night wasn’t the conclusion of a lot of collaboration and work.

It’s just the beginning.

The two finished second in the “1st and Future” competition, and in the process, they convinced a panel of experts their Genesis Helmet could revolutionize head safety in the sport. They won $25,000.

“Just to be one of only four selected was a big honor,” Condon said.

The competition was a hosted by the NFL and is part of the leadup to Super Bowl LV, in conjunction with Amazon’s Web Services.

Each team had to create a profile, explain their product and answer questions from a panel. Because of COVID-19, the project was done virtually.

Joe and Betsy Condon started Auxadyne in their Keystone Heights garage. It’s an auxetic foam called Xylafoam that expands at the point of pressure instead of contracting. The foam is considered instrumental for the future development of safer sports equipment, particularly football helmets.

The Condons won an $86,688 NFL grant in 2019 for its XPF material that absorbs and disperses energy at impact.

They met Horstemeyer, the Dean of Engineering at Liberty University, later that year at the NFL Helmet Summit in Youngstown, Ohio. Horstemeyer’s Yobel Technologies developed a revolutionary facemask that won a $20,000 grant from the NFL in 2018. The facemask reduced damage to the brain from certain types of impacts. Studies show about one-third of all concussion result from blows to the facemask.

Together, Joe Condon and Horstemeyer decided to combine their ideas with the creation of Genesis Helmets, Inc., in November.

Within weeks, they developed a first-generation helmet that was one of four selected for Tuesday’s show.

“It was divine intervention that brought our two technologies together,” Condon said. “He brings the science background; I bring the production and commercialization side.

“He [Horstemeyer] ran hundreds, if not thousands, of computations. He had prototypes made and they showed it reduced as much as 40% of frontal impacts.

Genesis Helmets used its computational model of the seven soft tissues that comprise the human brain, plus design and manufacturing technologies from Mississippi State University, Florida State University and Auxadyne, with the goal of developing a better-performing football helmet focused on the brain rather than the skull, the NFL said ahead of Tuesday’s airing.

They plan to work up to a fourth-generation prototype helmet in time for the NFL’s health summit in July. Genesis already owns or has applied for six patents.

“This was our Gen-1 model,” Condon said. “We’re not done yet. We can make it better. Our mission is to make our athletes safe for the sports we all love. We can help people more.”

Condon said he was happy with his presentation.

“You’re on the spot,” he said. “You’re nervous. Did it show well? Yes.”

While an expert panel of judges deliberated on the pitch competition, Commissioner Roger Goodell, Andy Jassy, CEO of AWS, and Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald joined the program to discuss how the use of data and innovative technologies are driving new insights into player health, safety and performance in the NFL.

The panel of judges included: Priya Ponnapalli, Ph.D., Senior Manager and Principal Scientist, Amazon Machine Learning Solutions Lab; Reggie Scott, Vice President, Sports Medicine and Performance, Los Angeles Rams’ Allen Sills, M.D., Chief Medical Officer, NFL; DeMarcus Ware, nine-time Pro Bowl NFL Player, Super Bowl Champion, Founder of Driven To Win and 3VOLT Fitness; and, Gary Vaynerchuk, Chairman, VaynerX, CEO, VaynerMedia, Co-Founder, Resy and Empathy Wines.

Organic Robotics Corporation of Ithaca, New York, finished first and earned $50,000. ORC’s unique Light Lace sensors use light to measure muscle fatigue and respiration. This stretchable sensor can be integrated into garments or even helmets, and the information generated can help athletes and training staff better assess injury risk factors and optimize performance.

“We are energized by all the fantastic pitches we heard tonight and the continued evolution of the 1st and Future platform, new to TV this year,” said Jeff Miller, NFL Executive Vice President overseeing the league’s health and safety programs. “The NFL continues to bring in innovators and entrepreneurs to apply their technologies to football. We’ve seen products start on the 1st and Future stage and then appear on NFL fields relatively quickly, and that’s a huge advance for the league and for our efforts to protect players at every level of sport.”

Other finalists included: Nix, Inc. of Boston. Nix’s proprietary biosensor platform generates real-time data on sweat rate and electrolyte losses to empower athletes to maintain proper hydration during activity – and thereby optimize safety and performance and GO² Devices/PEEP Performance, LLC of Houston. PEEP Performance’s GO² device is a patented breathing device that increases the user’s blood oxygen levels while providing the protection of a traditional mouth guard. Version 2 of the device is currently in development and will enable the device to capture data from every breath, analyze that data and give real time feedback on the physiological metrics of an athlete in order to optimize their performance.


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