Skully's head-turning new motorcycle helmet

AFP
First Published: 14:16 IST(18/10/2013)
Last Updated: 14:40 IST(18/10/2013)
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Move over Google Glass, this smart helmet offers a heads-up display, virtual rearview mirror, smartphone connection and voice controls but, unlike the search giant's smart headset, this gadget could save your life in a collision.

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Highlighting that when it comes to issues like motorcycle safety, wearable technology is more than simply a buzzword and has the chance to seriously innovate and save lives, US company Skully Helmets Thursday offered the first hands-on demonstration of its Heads-Up Display Motorcycle helmet, the Skully P1 at the Demo Fall 2013 emerging technology and trends event in Silicon Valley.

3D laser-cut to ensure a perfect fit for any rider's head, the helmet incorporates a rear-facing ultra-wide-angle lens camera so that wearers have a live video feed of everything happening behind them and on either side -- a full 180° view -- projected onto the inside of the visor.

This feature alone could be revolutionary. When cornering sharply on a racing bike in particular, elbows and shoulders usually obscure mirrors, while the need to move your body to balance the bike means glancing over the shoulder is virtually impossible for all but contortionists.

But as well as virtual overtaking mirrors, the display also offers turn-by-turn navigation, smartphone alerts and notifications -- such as incoming calls and texts -- and access to the device's music library plus voice operation of a connected phone for hands-free calling and route programming.

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"For riders, awareness is crucial," said Marcus Weller, Ph.D., Chairman and CEO of Skully Helmets. "We designed the Skully P1 to operate as a natural extension of the senses. It sees, it hears, it feels, and, most importantly, it thinks and connects you with the rest of the world. This is just the beginning for this platform."

The innovative helmet is destined to go on sale in 2014 but in the meantime, Skully is looking for volunteers who, just as with Google Glass, will be willing to test it before its official launch. But note, only serious motorcyclists should apply.

The P1 is by no means the first "smart" motorcycle helmet on the market. Companies such as Nolan and Dainese have been offering Bluetooth connectivity for wirelessly connecting phones and MP3 players for more than five years. What's more, there are plenty of aftermarket companies that sell Bluetooth and GPS kits that can be retro-fitted to existing helmets.

However, until now, any attempts to extend on this functionality have been less than successful. In June, a group of Russian inventors turned to crowd-funding site Indiegogo in order to develop the LiveMap, which like the PI has an integrated heads-up display. However, the campaign managed to raise less than 10 percent of the initial $150,000 it required to bring a first-generation device to fruition.


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