On Dec. 12, 2004, Washington cornerback Shawn Springs was blindsided by a block from Eagles fullback Josh Parry. He was knocked out cold for 10 minutes. When he regained consciousness, he had no memory of the hit. His mind was foggy for two weeks, and he sat out the following game.
Seven years after that hit, Springs founded Windpact, a company solely focused on impact protection. The company’s aim is to mitigate linear and rotational forces in any field, whether that be sports, automotive, military or any other. However, given Springs’ 13-year career in the NFL and the fact his twin sons Samari and Skyler now play college ball at Richmond and Georgetown, respectively, football is part of the focus.
Windpact’s patented technology, Crash Cloud, uses small air-filled compartments that can be compressed during impact, and then we refill with air to regain their shape.
“We like to say we pride ourselves in understanding the impact,” Springs explained. “What’s so unique and different about our technology is it’s all an energy managing system. Simplest way to understand it is if you jump off the side of a building and you land on a mattress, that’s the absorption technology. That’s what you see in most helmets … whether it’s an EPS [expanded polystyrene] or some type of foam. Then if you land on an air bag, that’s dispersal technology. Our technology is the only tech out on the market that’s probably a combination of both.”
Windpact is hoping to work with major manufacturers to improve their products. “We’re excited because we understand how to work with clients and understand they’re precious from their angle of having to sell to the customer, to us being like, ‘we have this technology, we use FCA modeling, we can rapidly go through our algorithms and modeling to improve your product whether it’s a baseball helmet, hockey helmet or football helmet.’”
Springs’ mission is to make Windpact the most advanced impact protection company in the world. Within the next six months it will be rolling out a new piece of tech to complement its Crash Cloud system. “We are always constantly evolving, looking at new materials in our database, faster ways to improve products and I see us in a variety of industries from automotive to military to sports,” continued Springs. “That’s where we want to continue to grow, continue to get better and effectively solve these different issues that pop up.”
While Windpact isn’t solely focused on mitigating forces on the football field, it has received some key funding from the NFL. It was one of three winners of the “1st and Future” contest at last year’s Super Bowl. For winning, the company received $50,000 in funding and entry into TMCx, Texas Medical Center’s incubator for health care and life science startups. The company was also one of three winners of the NFL and Football Research, Inc.’s HeadHealthTECH Challenge II.