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Innovation Stories: OBO

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OBO, a small company in Palmerston North, has become a world leader in field hockey protective equipment. Over 70% of all Olympic hockey goalkeepers, including New Zealand's Black Sticks, wear the company's gear.

OBO founder Simon Barnett has never played field hockey himself. However, with a daughter in New Zealand's under-17 Junior Olympics team, he had an extra incentive to develop the safest, best-designed protective equipment around. With typical Kiwi chutzpah, Barnett put together his own product development lab to enable the company to add research-based knowledge to their product design process.
A major challenge in hockey equipment is to make gear that can protect the human body from high-speed balls (up to 160 km/h) but still allow the wearer to move with instinct and precision. OBO's most recent investigation has been in face and head protection. So they could achieve a really great outcome, they built their own Antipodean Collider. Using this collider, they filmed balls being fired at the helmets at lightning speed.

With the unique knowledge the lab and the collider provided, they were able to choose the best materials and combined high-density foam with a polycarbonate chassis to create protective headgear and helmets. Their boldly designed OBO headgear has taken the hockey world by storm and made goalkeepers the least injured players on the hockey field. Next up, they plan to tackle softball gear, while always improving their hockey equipment.

Useful link

Find out more about OBO.

Activity idea

Read this article to see what other uses OBO helmets are put to

Watch this Ever Wondered? clip to see more about OBO.

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