Monday, November 23, 2015

Get Connected With Your Helmet

Last month, I wrote a bit about a couple of helmets on the market that boast integrated lights - the Torch, and the Lumos. Of the two, the Lumos went beyond simply having built-in lights, but also incorporated turn signals (operated by a bar-mounted switch) and brake lights (controlled by a built-in accelerometer). As a regular bike commuter who spends a lot of time riding in the dark, I concluded that while I could see some potential benefit in having some built-in helmet lighting, it was also a concern for me that the extra features, like turn signals and brake lights, might prove unreliable over time, and end up being more trouble (and expense) than they were worth.

As if to show that nothing succeeds like excess, though, the Livall Smart and Safe Bike Helmet is now on Kickstarter, boasting enough "connected" features to make anybody into Cyborg or RoboCop.

Except that you won't look anywhere near as cool.

The Livall Smart helmet has built-in lights, and incorporates turn signals, walkie-talkie, Bluetooth phone capability, music, and an SOS Alert system that sends out a signal if it detects that the rider has suffered a fall. It also incorporates cadence sensors, and integrates it all though the company's smartphone app. It comes with a stem-mount phone holder, and a handlebar-mounted controller for the turn signals, and which lets a user scroll through all the functions on the phone. 
For a product that's supposed to be so much about safety, it has a lot of features that seem designed to keep one's mind off their ride. Like making phone calls while riding:
"With the built-in Windbreak Mic and Bluetooth Speakers, the BH60 helmet enables you to answer or make phone calls when needed. You can enjoy your 'me time' without worrying people may not be able to reach you." Actually, that's about the last thing I want.

My favorite part of their crowdfunding approach is the promotional video, complete with an awkwardly dubbed voiceover:

In the video, we see this unlikely couple . . .

Holy Cow, what's with those shorts?!
. . . who act like they've just come from some kind of Masters and Johnson weekend.

They have an "enormous passion" for cycling.
We get to see them using the helmet's turn signals while weaving through traffic. The turn signals don't look particularly effective, though.
Somehow they end up separated - so they can use the "walkie-talkie" function to find each other.
The smart helmet makes cycling safer? More enjoyable? More distracting, if you ask me.

At this point in their date, they're off the bikes and on foot. You can take the helmets off now, kids. Or at least turn off the flashing lights.
The video also takes some time to show a lot of the features that come with the smart helmet. Like "the world's smallest nano cadence sensor."

And their own-design smartphone holder:

And the handlebar control switch, dubbed "The Bling Jet":

The most disturbing scene in the video comes about 1:25 into it - where we see how the SOS Alert feature works:

The voice dubbing becomes painfully obvious when we meet the creators of the Livall smart helmet:

"The helmet is an essential part of your cycling experience."
"Pledge now! Lets ride smart together."
It really seems to me that the more people come to rely on their smartphones, the dumber they get.

As I said before - I could maybe be persuaded to try a well-designed, decently styled helmet that incorporates some built-in lighting -- basic LED technology is inexpensive, simple, and has gotten pretty reliable. But all the so-called "smart" features of this thing seem to be more trouble than they're worth. Too much expense. Too much to go wrong. Too many distractions.

No thanks on the "smart helmet." But enjoy the video!


  1. A potential danger with helmet - mounted lights is that they might be used in place of bicycle-mounted lights. Located high up on the riders head, they are easily hidden from a driver's sight behind the roofline of his or her car - especially when the cyclist is close to the car. I had personal experience of this recently when driving to work on a wet and dark morning. I came close to colliding with a cyclist that I had seen, but subsequently lost sight of. OK so I should have been more careful, but surely we cyclists need to make ourselves as conspicuous as we can. In my view helmet - mounted lights may supplement, but not replace, bicycle-mounted lights.

    1. Yes - I totally agree. I would not want anyone to think that some little LEDs on a helmet are a substitute for good bike-mounted lights. But I do think that in many situations, having a light mounted up high (as on a helmet) can be a good supplement -- much the same way that cars now have a higher central-mounted brake light.

  2. Can't wait till the guys at get a hold of this one. It must violate multiple rules of cool. Those daisy dukes are awesome though. They're rockin' me straight back to 1977.