A Smart Helmet That Gives Riders Eyes in the Backs of Their Heads
It’s been said that “safety is not a gadget but a state of mind.” But what if safety is a gadget -- one that you wear on your head to protect your mind?
Like Skully AR-1, the augmented reality gadget-helmet that aims to protect motorcycle riders’ heads better and smarter than ever before. Yes, smart. The helmet puts real-time video of everything that’s happening behind and around them on an always in-focus transparent screen, inside the tinted visor, directly in their field of vision.
Described by a former Tesla tech as a “smartphone for helmets,” the Skully doesn’t just show riders traffic (and any other potential road hazards) in front and behind them on its trademarked Synapse Smart Heads-Up Display System. It also delivers turn-by-turn GPS navigation and live traffic and weather conditions.
The Android-powered, high-speed microprocessor lid is voice command controlled, allowing riders to take, make and decline smartphone calls (once Bluetooth paired). All in an interface that supposedly isn’t distracting. Go figure.
The idea for Skully came to inventor Marcus Weller in a dream on a Wednesday night. He’s speeding down the pavement on a motorcycle. Afraid to crash, nerves on edge. Then, out of nowhere, glowing GPS maps start floating inside his helmet, “like a hologram, showing me the way.” A driver in front of him slams on the brakes, but he’s prepared, so he safely glides around the car and rides on.
In real life, that’s not how the scenario ended. In 2010, three months before the dream that later evolved into the “fastest funded Indiegogo campaign to hit $1 million,” Weller didn’t breeze past a car that suddenly stopped in front of him when he was riding his Honda motorcycle in Barcelona. He smashed into it. Hard.
“I ripped my whole palm off and got some bad road rash,” Weller says. Still, he was able to walk away, life and limbs intact. Countless motorcycle riders around the world every year don’t.
After the accident, and his dream, Weller got to work on the Skully. Then came six or seven months of relentless tinkering with parts, electronics and soldering irons. The result: a “seriously bitchin’” Skully prototype, as Weller puts it. A couple months later came a rider-tested demo version, slick enough to snag this year’s SXSW best wearable tech company grand prize.
The final product is surprisingly good looking, too. It comes in a simple matte black and a sleek gloss white, and weighs less than four pounds -- about the same as your standard modular motorcycle helmet. If you don’t mind shelling out $1,399 for what Skully’s touting as the world’s first smart motorcycle helmet, you could don one next May.
Kim Lachance Shandrow is the former West Coast editor at Entrepreneur.com. Previously, she was a commerce columnist at Los Angeles CityBeat, a news producer at MSNBC and KNBC in Los Angeles and a frequent contributor to the Los Angeles Times. She has also written for Government Technology magazine, LA Yoga magazine, the Lowell Sun newspaper, HealthCentral.com, PsychCentral.com and the former U.S. Surgeon General, Dr. C. Everett Coop. Follow her on Twitter at @Lashandrow. You can also follow her on Facebook here.