Of the 100 million Americans who rode bikes last year, only a tiny fraction actually used a bike to commute to work. When designers interviewed people about why they didn't want to ride regularly, the biggest obstacle cited was fear: Commuters don't want to be hit by cars.
While safer bike lanes are probably the ultimate solution, the designers have come up with an intermediate step: a smart bike helmet that can warn you if a car is in your blind spot, automatically flash turn signals and brake lights as you ride, and give you GPS navigation that doesn't make you take your eyes off the road. If you do get in an accident, video cameras in the front and back of the helmet record all of the evidence.
All of the technology is designed to seem intuitive. The turn signals, for example, are activated when you make the traditional signal with your arm, using sensors and an algorithm to detect the movement.
"We tried hard to make it as close as possible to what people are used to," says Manuel Saez, CEO co-founder and CEO of Brooklyness, the startup making the helmet. "There is no learning curve—the idea is to get it on and ride and as you ride doing the same things you normally do … It is in many ways magical. In a way we used design to humanize technology so it is there when you need it and it disappears when you don't."
Cameras in the front and back of the helmet scan the road detecting potential hazards like cars or trucks, and flash a warning in the visor if a vehicle is in a dangerous position.
It's not the first helmet to incorporate technology like signals or cameras, but the designers may be the first to incorporate so many features at once—and they tried to make it easier to use. The technology is as simple as possible. "We focus on safety and made sure technology helps and is not hazardous," he says. "We focus on simplifying the UI so the time to understand the information is short and it can be used by anyone."
The Classon Helmet is crowdfunding on Kickstarter.
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