The "World’s First Smart Cycling-Helmet"?


Engadget, the publisher of tech news & reviews runs an interesting feature called Insert Coin that presents an “exciting new tech project that requires funding before it can hit production”.

This week it was the turn of a company called LifeBeam that is apparently better known for its miniature sensing platform that’s been integrated into the helmets of US fighter pilots and astronauts. Now they've decided to apply their technology into the LifeBeam heart-monitoring smart cycling-helmet, billed as “The World’s First Smart Cycling-Helmet”

If you look at their promotional material, like us, you’re already thinking Terminator-like Head-Up-Display and where can you buy one.

But hold on, what they’re actually pitching is this: a helmet with a built-in miniature sensing platform  (you know, a bit like the one we do for US fighter pilots and astronauts) that will link to your smartphone or Garmin using ANT+ or Bluetooth and will give you, wait for it…a Heart Rate Monitor (HRM) and motion sensor providing data in real-time!

The motion sensor uses accelerometers not GPS so it appears that it can provide a read-out of relative position from your starting point but not absolute position which would need a GPS (planned for the future).

So it's basically an HRM in a helmet with the unique selling point that there’s “no need for uncomfortable HRM chest straps” - try getting some sympathy from your girlfriend/wife for that one! Alternatively you could save your money and just adjust your existing HRM straps so it fits...

For any weight weenies, the claimed weight of the unit is 50g which might not sound a lot but we calculate that it will add 18% to the weight of a vanilla Lazer helmet (280g).

The company reckons they can retail the helmet for $189 USD once they start shipping and all they need from you is a “contribution towards their journey” to help them reach the $50k USD funding they need to bring this product onto the shelves.

The fact that they’re asking for money via crowd funding rather than investing their own implies there isn’t as much money in the fighter pilot/astronaut market as we would've thought. 

A solution looking for a problem or have we missed some redeeming feature? Possibly, given that at the time of writing they've raised over $17k USD from 118 investors wanting to get their hands on the first 200 off the production line.

Hasta la vista, baby.

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Comment by Andy Dawson on March 8, 2013 at 17:13

I like your idea Pat but I'd need to be convinced that my brain wouldn't be frozen after a minor impact! Maybe a sensor that detects zero head movement x secs after the impact before the big freeze?  Your other idea sounds safer: how much would you pay for the Wiggo TdF 2012 victory pack?

Karl, it's an interesting way to test a market. I've just check and they've increased their funding since yesterday by about 60% (almost $28k USD now). I guess some people still have money to splash around.

It does remind me of the story about the US Space programme spending huge sums of money as part of the space race with Russia on developing a Biro that would work in 0g. The Russian solution: they took pencils...not sure if that's 100% true or not but it sounds good!

Comment by Pat Noone on March 8, 2013 at 11:28

I think we should have one of those plugs in the back of our necks Andy like in the Matrix, and for a price download the wiggo program for the Sunday morning chain gangs, mind you suppose Sunday roads would be full of madmen with carpets hanging off there cheeks looking like Oasis refugees

Comment by Andy Dawson on March 8, 2013 at 10:15

Reading how this HR sensor works (samples the blood pulse in the rider's forehead) and assuming the "sell" is the improvement in comfort over a traditional HRM chest-strap, why not just have a HRM wrist-band that feeds into a smartphone app or an Ant+/bluetooth device. Surely Nike, Garmin etc must have something like that already.

Comment by Pat Noone on March 8, 2013 at 10:04

I work within the traumatic brain injury field, and better supported would be a helmet that looks into reducing a acquired brain injury, research has shown immediately after a brain trauma if the brain is (simplifying it a little) kept at sub zero temperature brain injury is reduced quiet considerably, but it still does not solve the problem of pea in a can syndrome, which is, if you have a pea (your brain, we all know these types lol), in a can (your head) and shake the can then stop shaking the can, the pea inside continues on its journey smashing about inside the can, this is were the damage is done to the brain, a helmet is still advisable even though it does not stop the pea in the can effect, it will reduce the risk of a fractured skull through impact, produce a helmet that releases a controlled chemical within the helmet that keeps the head at sub zero temp's is a better project, could even produce air conditioning ones keep you cool on really hot days ( wont sell many of them in UK lol).

Comment by Karl on March 7, 2013 at 20:42

Yeah interesting idea but doesn't add anything for the huge price increase. They probably feel the same hence the crowdfunding option as a way to see if the idea has traction. Sure some people may like the stealthness of it but they have more spare cash than I do.

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