Life in a smart cycle helmet: From handling calls to saving lives

Tech to track your rides, prevent falls and call for help is coming
Smart cycling helmets to look out for

After running, cycling is arguably the most supported sport in terms of wearables. There's the likes of the Polar M200 for your wrist, the Moov Now for your ankle, the Oakley Radar Pace that you can wear on your face, cameras like the GoPro Hero 5 Black you can attach to your head and all manner of other gadgets you can add to your bike's frame, bars and pedals to show you where you're going, and just how much energy you're exerting to get there.

What about your helmet, though? The most essential of cycling's wearables, helmets are in a prime position to be filled with tech. Fortunately, we're not the only ones who think so.

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Smart cycling helmets have already started the transition from pipe dream to reality, with a selection of technologically enhanced models already available. They're not stopping at inbuilt sensors, integrated cameras and call-handing skills, however. The future of techy cycling helmets is an exciting – and potentially life-saving – one.

And so it begins

Life in a smart cycle helmet: From handling calls to saving lives

SENA X1 PRO

Why buy a helmet and an action cam when you can combine the two? That's what the Sena X1 Pro does, slotting a compact video snapper directly within the front of the helmet. Capable of capturing QHD quality at 30fps or Full HD content at 60fps, it lets you record your rides without a cumbersome protrusion. It's not just a single function wearable either. Further enhancing the helmet's smart features are inbuilt speakers with Bluetooth 4.1 connectivity to let you play music and handle calls direct from your helmet. You can also get audio-based fitness app or direction alerts from your smartphone.

Livall BH60 Bling Helmet

Don't let its stereo Bluetooth speakers fool you, this high-end helmet is more than an audio-loving lout primed to irk your fellow cyclists, it's also a potential lifesaver, and not just because of its traditional, reinforced helmet design. With an inbuilt mic letting you handle calls on the move, the helmet will automatically call a chosen emergency contact or the emergency services in the event of a crash. It knows when you've come off too, with an accelerometer automatically detecting impacts and potentially harmful movements.

Life in a smart cycle helmet: From handling calls to saving lives

Lazer Genesis Lifebeam

A Fitbit for your head – that's essentially what this smart cycle helmet is. Built around a traditional Lazer helmet, it lets cyclists do away with traditional chest straps and wrist-based heart rate trackers, unobtrusively taking your BPM from inside the helmet. A sensor sits on your forehead with a power unit and components box located in the rear. If you've got your phone mounted on your handlebars, you can also get your heart rate relayed in real time whilst on your ride, with all metrics transferred via Bluetooth.

Coros Linx

Cycling with headphones in just isn't a good idea. Yes, some solid tuneage can help pass the time and maintain your motivation on long runs, but for the sake of safety, your ears need to be free to listen out for oncoming cars, squealing tyres and pedestrians shouting at you to watch where you're going. The Kickstarter-backed Coros Linx keeps your lugholes clear while still bringing the audio effect. Letting you listing to music, get audio-based navigation prompts and handle calls thanks to a peak-mounted mic, it works by attaching a pair of bone-conducting headphones into the fastening safety strap. There's even a handlebar-mounted controller to keep your focus on the road while toggling volumes or flicking through your playlist.

What the future holds

Life in a smart cycle helmet: From handling calls to saving lives

Optic's Crash Prevention

Tracking your actions and recording your rides is all well and good, but the future of smart helmets has to be increasing rider safety, and that's where the DCA Optic comes in. This concept cycle companion features front and rear cameras, giving riders a 360-degree proximity view.

Footage from the rear camera is piped in real time to a transparent heads-up display, letting riders see what's going on all around them without having to contort their neck or take their eyes off the road.

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Pleasingly, all this futuristic wizardry doesn't come at the cost of design, with the helmet's sleek, protective lines shown in a variety of attractive colour schemes you'd actually want to wear.

Robo Rider

Now this might not be the most refined concept as yet, but the idea is a solid one, and all the technology a realistically obtainable vision. With a heads-up display offering real time directions and live cycling data, a camera is hosted above a series of danger-monitoring ultrasonic proximity sensors.

Okay, so it looks like you're wearing a shed on your head, but this is more 'end of the garden man cave' than your general garden tool holder. Accelerometers sense when you've applied the brakes and trigger a set of rear-mounted lights to alert following motorists and fellow cyclists that might be getting too close to your back wheel.

This isn't a helmet designed just to protect the cyclist either. Along with all the rider aides, there's an inbuilt speaker that will warn cyclists when they are riding too close to pedestrians. For those cycling in less sunny climes, the heads-up display is also fitted with an external wiper blade, letting you cycle safely in the wet.



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