A Visual Look at the AFWERX Vegas Fixed Wing Helmet Challenge

Recently, AFWERX asked for innovators to submit components, materials, or technologies that could specifically improve the USAF Fixed Wing Helmet used by its pilots and aircrew. For context, the legacy helmet was created in the 1970’s and updated throughout the years. It has served the USAF well, but it’s time for something new.

 USAF Legacy Fixed Wing Helmet on display at the AFWERX Vegas event

USAF Legacy Fixed Wing Helmet on display at the AFWERX Vegas event

On November 14th, the 30+ solutions that were chosen from the 100+ submitted were featured as part of AFWERX’s grand exhibition at Enclave Las Vegas.

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Taking on all aspects of USAF Helmet, these finalists from around the country and across the globe have proposed ideas that run the gamut of awe-inspiring innovation. From Massachusetts to Silicon Valley, and even the UK and Australia - participants came to showcase their innovations, pitch to a room full of judges, and then await final callbacks which could result in working with AFWERX on further prototyping, and potentially multimillion dollar contracts.

Who is moving on to the next phase? We’ll have to wait and see just a little longer.

While there were many helmet concepts to be found, there were also technologies that would round out a helmet system with audio/visual communications, biometrics and more. From Air Force Research Labs’ incorporation of 3D Audio, Sonitus’ Molar Mic total communications system on your tooth for speaking and hearing, without using your ears, to Somatic Lab’s “Zorb Touch” replacement of audio alarms with haptic feedback, to Devali’s work with biometric and physiological performance data, to Hedgemon’s biomimetic impact protection technology inspired by hedgehog quills, there were many modern military marvels for attendees — which included a steady stream of USAF folks from the nearby Nellis and Creech Air Force Bases, more than a few veterans, and local aviation fans —  to experience firsthand.

Since first envisioned by Secretary of the Air Force, Heather Wilson, the AFWERX program has been dedicated to solving some of the toughest challenges the Air Force faces through innovative collaborations between our nation’s top intrapreneurs, industry experts, academic professionals, and non-traditional contributors.

“We’ve realized that to stay ahead of our adversaries, we can no longer rely on just a few large companies to solve Air Force problem sets,” explains Colby Edwards, Deputy Director of AFWERX Vegas.

“Instead, our approach here at AFWERX, is to crowdsource a nation’s worth of talent and ideas to ensure that the best possible solutions reach the warfighter and in turn, ensure our national security.”