Beyond Bluetooth: How smart will (or should) motorcycle helmets become?

skully1

Published on 11 August 2015 by Gill

Technology has greatly enhanced the quality of and safety provided by modern day motorcycle helmets.

Originating in the early 20th century, the uptake of motorbike helmets took off thanks to research made following the death of Lawrence of Arabia, who crashed his bike and died as a result of serious head injuries in 1935.

Significant strides have since been made with what may seem like simple changes towards new lightweight but super strength polycarbonate materials, enabling flexibility of movement with increased resistance to falls.

Motorcycle helmets are no longer simple crash hats.

In recent times technology has advanced at such a rate that beggars the question not of when the true modern day helmet will arrive, but what the boundaries of advancement are (and should) be.

Enter Bluetooth

Put in this context in built communications and the likes of Bluetooth have been around in bike helmets for a while.

Motorcycle.com has just announced the Sena 10C headset as its product of the year, not least for that fact that it combines Bluetooth communications and an action camera into one helmet attachment.

The Bluetooth element allows riders to make calls, play music and get turn-by-turn directions by connecting to their smartphones.

Sound quality is also surprisingly good according to Motorcycle.com, especially considering the immediate surrounding noise made by roaring motorcycles.

The accompanying camera is also extremely clever, for any audio captured by the sound system can be played with the gathered pictures and the combined battery shuts down the video element when power is low, leaving two hours of communication time.

If you think that this is clever then look at what Scully is developing in the Silicon Valley.

Smart helmet

Since founding two years ago, Scully has been working on its AR-1 which is available for pre-order at a neat $1499 (about £970), with delivery expected to be by the end of the year.

Arguably the most advanced motorcycle helmet in the world, Scully believes that AR-1 technology can remove blind spots and provide the safest piece of equipment a rider can buy. Rather than create the world’s toughest protective case for a rider’s head, the focus here is very much on preventing accidents in the first instance by maximising the information available to those on two wheels. 

Its features include:

  • 180° blind spot camera: Ultra wide angle camera fills in the gaps that mirrors leave behind.
  • Heads Up Display (HUD): Pictures from the blind spot camera display in the bottom corner of the display, allowing riders to see what’s behind them while keeping their eyes on the road ahead.  
  • GPS navigation: Integrated into the display to help bikers navigate unknown routes and prepare for upcoming bends in the road.
  • Connectivity: Bluetooth and internet connection via smartphones.
  • Hands free sound: Make calls and play music.

Scully also claims to have the rugged essential qualities associated with motorcycle helmets – its quick release chin strap and fog, scratch and glare resistant visor helping achieve a DOT/ECE certification.

Sceptics among us may point to there being too much technology and on-screen information to keep a rider’s attention fully on the road. Is calling someone while listening to music and glancing across to send your rear view camera too much to take in when on the road, regardless of this all happening while facing forwards?

The technology has developed leaps and bounds since the early helmets came into play 100 years ago, and the possibilities will surely only continue to grow.

Where will boundaries extend for the next generation of motorcycle helmet and, perhaps more importantly, where should they extend?