When it comes to bike safety, it helps to be noticed, and see all around you. Which is the point of this new bike helmet design that incorporates 10 wide-angle LEDs.
"The goal is to create the largest lit surface possible, rather than a small cluster of lights," says Nathan Wills, the designer. "The largest surface area is always going to be the rider, so it made sense to spread out the lights at different angles."
While modern lights are increasingly powerful, they tend to direct beams in relatively narrow widths; The Torch diffuses it. There are five lights in the front of the helmet, and five in the back.
The LEDs have a 130-degree glow, compared to a more standard 30 degrees. The result is a wider beam that provides all-around visibility for the biker and other road-users.
Wills got the idea when he started cycling in Los Angeles a few years ago. He’d had a bad accident as a kid, and he says he felt unsafe with the normal light set-up. "Cycling in L.A. at night is almost a death-wish. Even though I had lights on my bike, and was wearing a helmet, I didn’t feel comfortable."
After designing a fourth prototype, he put a request on Kickstarter, eventually raising almost $70,000. He’s now in the process of fulfilling orders, and preparing for public sales. As well as the helmet, "Torch Apparel" also sells lights-included backpacks.
The helmet lights have steady, slow, and fast flash modes, all powered by rechargeable battery. Wills says the pack will last two hours at full beam, or eight hours flashing; it takes about two hours to recharge from a USB connection. The Torch is slightly heavier than a conventional helmet, and a little more expensive at $120. But Wills says you need to compare combined costs for both headgear and standard lights.
Wills recently entered the design into this year’s James Dyson Awards, as you can see here. And we wrote about another interesting helmet design--with brake lights and signaling system--a few weeks ago. Hopefully, designs like these will help cut accident rates, and help car and truck drivers make better decisions, too.