Impact Science


SHOXS Mission

To consistently raise the bar through superior engineering and functional design, integrating new technologies for ergonomics, durability, and most importantly, safety.


A Painful Experience

From lakes to rivers to the open ocean, high-speed boats play many roles, and technological advancements continue to push their performance. In every sector these boats are traveling faster, and while speed may have its advantages, it also has serious drawbacks that are often overlooked. Hidden behind the price tag of any fast boat is an unseen physical cost due to increased impact exposure. Unwary crews and passengers may learn this painful and sometimes dangerous lesson when they slam into their first wave. Even at modest speeds, the accelerations associated with wave impacts are substantial, and the accumulation of exposure can have lasting consequences in the form of acute injuries and chronic pain.

A Solution, and a New Problem

The wave impact environment is complex, but the impacts are predominantly vertical in nature and there are proven ways to lessen their severity. Shock-mitigating suspension seats have emerged as a leading counter-measure to these impacts, and their acceptance by end users continues to grow. This is a positive development, but a long-standing problem within the industry has been a lack of consistent performance measurement techniques. For many years, seats have been sold on personal assurances and unverified claims. With no firm definition of how things should be measured, seat buyers can't be sure of what they are getting, and seat sellers can't be held accountable for inferior products.

Improvement Is Driven by Measurement

In most industries, products evolve and improve in a cyclical fashion with ever-advancing measurement methods. As the saying goes, if you cannot measure it, you cannot improve it. The introduction of better measurements gives designers new opportunities to innovate and create value. An aversion to measurement can lead to stagnation or poor designs, and a lack of evaluation can stymie an entire industry. Until recently, this has been the case in the marine seating industry, where many older designs went unchallenged.

Changing the Game

The above problem was recognized by scientists from major fleet agencies, and dedicated steps were taken to fix the situation. Collaborations across the Atlantic led to the development of the UK Ministry of Defense's Protocol 1&2 and the US Navy's seat-testing requirement. Since 2015, these documents and the tests they define have been used in in several major procurement programs, and they have forced industry to take note. The tests require careful measurements in a controlled environment, impact severity assessment algorithms, and standardized reporting formats that allow for direct comparison between competing products.

Read more on the EU Directive regarding exposure levels to shock and mechanical vibration.

UK Ministry of Defense Pacific 24 with SHOXS shock-mitigation seating

UK Ministry of Defense Pacific 24 with SHOXS shock-mitigation seating.

How the Tests Work

The tests require that suspension seats are attached to the deck of a drop-test rig, loaded with weights, and raised to various heights, then dropped. The deck lands in a sand basin or any other medium that generates an impact signal that lies within the specified tolerances. The impact signal tolerances were selected to mimic the important characteristics of a hull-wave impact, including impact magnitude and duration. As the drop height is increased, the impact magnitude also increases, and tests are specified to assess the seat's response across a range of severities.

How Test Results are Interpreted

Data from accelerometers attached to the seat is filtered and processed to determine the seat's response in a manner relevant to human health. The same calculation is performed for the acceleration measurements made on the deck, and the two results are compared. If the seat has reduced the impact severity, the calculated response at the seat will be less than that at the deck, and if a seat has performed poorly its calculated response may exceed the measured value at the deck.

Drop Test Results Graphed

But What About Lateral Impacts?

It is true that the tests are limited to the vertical component of shock, but that is by design. The dominant axis of impact on the water is vertical, after all, and there are currently no standardized methods for assessing multi-directional impact mitigation. With only a small amount of lateral movement available, the laws of physics prevent a seat from achieving significant lateral mitigation. In any case the lateral performance will largely depend on occupant mass and impact magnitude, and carefully designed, systematic tests would be required.

The SHOXS Approach

SHOXS has taken a measurement-driven approach to the problem of marine shock mitigation. The company has remained actively involved with the scientific work and has contributed to international standards development efforts. SHOXS has a drop-tower that continues to see regular use and recently underwent a major upgrade to increase its capabilities.

SHOXS is driven by the desire to test, optimize, and re-test its seats to deliver the best configurations for every application. We are constantly assessing our approach, looking for new ways to improve, and striving to measure our performance. After all, if you cannot measure it, you cannot improve it.

Drop Test Rig