Described by US comedian Seth Meyers as "the cigarette of personal mobility" because it looks cool but it's going to kill you, a motorbike can be risky at the best of times. But, thanks to the Skully AR-1 Helmet, riding a motorbike is about to get a lot smarter, and safer.
The Skully AR-1 - the first augmented reality motorcycle helmet. Photo:AFP
The idea for a crash helmet with a heads-up display for navigation and an integrated rear-view camera was dreamt up by the company's CEO, Marcus Weller, Ph.D, while he was recovering from a motorcycle crash in 2011. The accident happened because, while riding, Weller glanced up to see a road sign and in doing so failed to see the car in front of him had come to a sudden halt.
Two years later, the company showcased the prototype helmet at the Demo Fall 2013 emerging technology and trends event in Silicon Valley in October, where it scooped a host of awards because of its potential to save lives.
Its integrated heads-up display provides riders with turn-by-turn navigation, smartphone alerts and notifications -- such as incoming calls and texts -- as well as access to the device's music library, contacts and dialer, all via voice command.
However, the smartest feature is the rear-facing ultra-wide-angle video camera, the feed from which is also integrated into the heads-up display. It captures a 180-degree view of everything happening behind the rider, making for a potentially blind spot-free riding experience, even when cornering or overtaking.
Therefore it was less than a surprise that, when the company opened up a beta testing program to get the helmet ready for a consumer launch, it received requests from over 100,000 riders.
And, after 10 months for further development and testing, the helmet is ready to go into production and Skully is using Indiegogo as a way of taking initial orders and of funding mass production.
When the AR-1 arrives in stores next May it will do so with a $1,499 price tag -- making it $1 cheaper than Google Glass -- but riders who reserve one now can save up to $100 on a single helmet or get a $349 discount on a set of two.
Skully started taking orders on Monday and set a funding target of $250,000. Within 24 hours reservations totaled more than $800,000 and counting.