Introducing the new brain cooling motorcycle helmet that could save your life
Halo Active Technology vows that motorcycle helmets will never be the same again. BMF spoke to inventor and co-founder Jullian Preston-Powers about the new Halo helmet, due to launch this winter.
“We followed the ambulance to the hospital and they wheeled him in.
“After an hour of waiting one of us went to get some cold drinks and saw him on a trolley in the corridor with his helmet still on…we flipped off his visor and saw that one of his eyeballs had popped out onto his cheek.”
Ten years on, Jullian Preston-Powers vividly remembers his trip to Majorca, one which transformed his life and gave birth to an entirely new idea.
Jullian was away with a group of friends, one of whom “shot off round a corner far too fast” on his rented moped and crashed, triggering the brain swelling which lead to his death later that day.
Eight out of 10 motorcyclist deaths involve a head injury. Brain inflammation is a key factor, not least because all standard motorcycle helmets contain polystyrene foam which acts as a heat insulator as well as a shock absorber. A cool head is vital in slowing down the impact of brain swelling, granting emergency services extra, crucial time.
“Essentially, all motorcycle helmets work to protect you before the accident and on the moment of impact,” Jullian adds. “But, post-impact, they are actually a death trap.”
Since that tragic day in the Balerics, Jullian has refused to take his foot off the gas, developing an impressively wide range of safety helmets for a host of different markets, his inventions portfolio is now 19-strong.
One of these is Halo, a helmet which immediately cools the brain after an impact - a helmet which may have saved his friend’s life in 2005 and one which could revolutionise motorcycle safety.
“Somehow I’ve become this inventor”
Jullian describes himself as an ideas man. He recalls with youthful excitement how the Gadget Man Richard Ayoade said on Channel 4’s comedy current affairs show, The Last Leg, that the Halo Helmet was the best gadget he had come across.
We ask if his professional background is innovations of any kind. He chuckles, almost surprised at what a telecoms man could achieve in a completely different world.
“I’ve always been a motorsport nut, but I’ve not been anywhere near that space at all,” he explains. “I was involved in the telecommunications sector in several different start-ups but had nothing to do with innovations, so somehow I’ve become an inventor. Majorca 2005 turned on a switch.
“We did a little research and development around what causes traumatic brain injury… which occurs when your brain bounces back and forth inside your skull – there is really nowhere for your inflamed brain tissue to go.”
Jullian goes on to explain ‘intracranial pressure’ with the authority, clarity and energy of someone who has spent an entire career in safety innovation. Put simply, a resting heart rate of 60bpm may have tripled to 180 post-accident, causing large volumes of blood to flow into the brain, creating further friction from exacerbated heat and swelling.
Wearing a naturally-insulating helmet only speeds up this process. A fallen rider may not be able to remove their helmet for a number of reasons, not least because they may be unconsciousness. By the time paramedics have arrived, the amount of brain swelling that has occurred may mean it is already too late.
Realising this fundamental post-accident flaw, Jullian and his team went about developing the Halo solution. It is fitted with its ThermaPak device, which works by triggering an endothermic chemical reaction inside the helmet lining at the moment of impact, immediately cooling the head.
The Halo helmet, now fully tooled and tested, in fact advances far beyond the brain cooling scope outlined in the patent.
Not only is the helmet handmade with super-strength carbon fibre and DuPont Kevlar, which Jullian has had trademarked as Military Grade Protection™, Halo Active Technologies has also developed an Ionizer, a sort of cleaning docking station. This prolongs its life by drawing in clean air and heating up to 45 degrees, all the while extracting the dirty particles.
The Halocater™ is another feature which particularly excites Jullian, who talks through how it provides another vital lifeline to accident victims.
“When you hit the ground the sensors pick up that the helmet has gone cold, logs your location and transmits your position via packet data to our base station. This then calls into the helmet to ask if you are alright. If you say you are okay they will cancel the call but if you shout for help or fail to answer they’ll send the emergency services to your exact location.”
The helmet can also detect algorithms associated with heart attacks and strokes, helping to give paramedics crucial detail of the incident they are about to attend.
Polish your Halo
In July 2008 a broad, optimistic patent was filed, and this year it was granted in almost every country in world at only the second stage.
“We managed to, quite amazingly - and to the shock of a lot of intellectual property people - achieve two, which is very high on the scope of broad coverage,” Julian comments. “Generally your first claim is something outrageous that you never think you could achieve, and even your second, third and fourth claims are very rarely granted.”
The patent covers ‘an endothermic reaction triggered by impact in any protective headwear’, and is being applied across a variety of sectors including motorsport, extreme sport, equestrian, fire-fighting, and military.
The Halo team is now fully assembled with an impressive spread of motoring knowhow and clout.
“Once the patents and trademarks were granted the time was right to get a proper team organised,” Jullian says. “I tried to get some motorsport people involved and had a conversation with Richard Phillips, who had been the managing director at Silverstone for the past decade, overseeing a whole new racetrack development and tripling its turnover.”
Several conversations and meetings later, Phillips is now Chairman and CEO of Halo Active Technologies, bringing with him more than 30 years of experience in the sport, leisure and high performance technology fields.
Jullian’s fellow Co-founder Jeff Meers is the company’s Chief Marketing Officer. An e-commerce and branding expert, Meers used to work with the likes of BMW cars and motorcycles.
The obvious Formula One potential of the Halo Helmet will be tapped with the help of Mark Hughes, who has advised on the construction, set up and running of world famous venues including Brands Hatch and Bahrain International and Yas Marina Circuits. He joins the team as a specialist F1 advisor.
Watch this space
With expertise now in place, Jullian confidently looks ahead to the product’s launch this winter, with evolutions and new features already in the pipeline.
“The helmet is fully tooled and passed all testing,” he continues. “We are also looking at front and rear cameras to record the time before and after impact. You will be able to see what happened and how/why you fell off or had an accident. This is important because often those who suffer head injuries cannot remember accurately what happened to them.”
Such features may appear later down the line following the initial production batch and launch, which will see the Halo helmet enter the market for the very first time.
It joins a growing number of futuristic lids now available to riders, with Bluetooth and internal media devices gradually becoming more commonplace.
Some models now even boast a blind spot camera that projects footage onto a screen in the corner of the visor, granting 360-degree vision without the need to look backwards.
Will motorcycle helmets ever be the same again? One thing for sure is that Halo will help accident victims keep a cool head this winter.
More info at www.haloactive.com