Lighting Helmet: solution or problem ?

Y. B. Karasik
Thought Guiding Systems Corp.,
Ottawa, Canada.

Siegfried Luger invented a lighting helmet for Formula 1 [1]. He claimed that did it by TRIZ. This claim is difficult to ascertain without a clear understanding of what problem was and how it was solved (if at all).

From what Mr. Luger wrote, it appears that there were two problems: a) blinding of a racer for a while when transitioning from a tunnel to an open space and vise versa; and b) too much stress on racer's eyes. Both problems were caused by abrupt changes in illumination of environment.

Which problem, a) or b), Mr. Luger wished to solve is not stated in his paper. Instead he concentrated on eliminating their common cause. Namely, on smoothing abrupt changes in illumination.

No TRIZ was required to come up with such a bright idea. Elementary Root Cause Analysis would suffice.

However, eliminating causes, if they are not the only root causes, not always solve problems. In this particular case, smoothing changes in illumination would only guarantee a less stress on racer's eyes. As for blinding, the situation is more intricate.

Illuminating eyes of a racer in a tunnel to prepare them to meet the bright light outside, would definitely diminish racer's ability to see in the tunnel itself. It is like substituting one blindness by another one. A more accute and prolonged blindness after emergence from a tunnel is replaced by a less prolonged and less accute one, but at the expense of blinding a racer to a degree before he emerges from a tunnel. The total duration of poor vision (blindness before emergence + blindness after emergence) under Mr. Luger's proposal probably even increases. But this blindness seems to be less accute on the whole as compared to the blindness without the helmet. Thus, Mr. Luger's invention instead of solving a contradiction, just created it !

The same applies to the situation before entering a tunnel.

Did one really need all this vinaigrette of "GoldFire Innovation", SuField Analysis, separation principles, etc. to arrive at Mr. Luger's idea ? Definitely not. The idea of smoothing abrupt changes is trivial and logically follows from root cause analysis. Besides, it does not solve the main problem: how to eliminate the racer's blindness at times. It only solves the secondary problem of reducing stress on racer's eyes. As for the problem of blindness, it just substitutes one kind of blindness by another one.

It appears that Mr. Luger's desire to present the idea of lighting helmet as if found by TRIZ and as resolving the blindness problem, is no more than wishful thinking.

R E F E R E N C E S:

  1. Siegfried Luger, "Lighting Helmet for Formula 1", The February 2005 issue of the TRIZ-journal.

A note from G. Filkovsky: "I would only like to add that the idea of putting lights inside the helmet - although for a different purpose - is not new: see "Rumours and speculation in the world of Formula One" . Interesting to notice that the later article mentions another possible problem with this solution: "replicating the lights into the driver's helmet... is considered potentially distracting for the driver".