The smartest motorcycle helmet yet

The smartest motorcycle helmet yet

It may not have the capability to track multiple targets like Iron Man's helmet.

But judging by the buzz the Skully AR-1 is generating, it's even better.

Who would have thought that a simple safety gear like the helmet, which essentially has one function - to protect your head in a crash - can stir so much interest in the motorcycling fraternity.

It says a lot when US-based Skully, founded by Mr Marcus Weller last year, managed to raise more than US$1.3 million (S$1.6 million) when it needed only US$250,000 to fund the project. I suspect it is because the AR-1 offers possibilities for bikers.

Just look at its cool features. The "third eye", by way of a tiny wide-angle lens camera at the back of the AR-1, ensures that no vehicle can sneak up behind you unannounced.

Capabilities like Bluetooth connection, hands-free mobile calling, noise-cancelling audio, music streaming and even Internet access are built into the 1.7kg AR-1.

Perhaps the cherry on the cake is the helmet's heads-up display (HUD).

Your eyes do not need to refocus to see the GPS navigational maps on the HUD. They are always in focus even when you look far into the bend ahead, Skully claims.

It's all part of the tech explosion. Advances include a dizzying array of features like traction control, ride modes, anti-lock brake system and electronic throttles. Having said all that, I can't help but wonder if we are being overrun by too much technology.

It worries me when some riders boast about owning the smartest bikes or the most function-filled navigational gadgets, when what we should really be focusing on are riding skills, instincts and the road ahead.

While technology is unavoidable, some purists would argue that having a smart helmet - which costs US$1,300 - would be a dumb idea if the fundamentals of motorcycle riding are ignored by a rider.

I could be wrong, but maybe the answer to safer riding on our busy roads lies in keeping things simple. Only time will tell.

OTHER SMART FEATURES

INTELLIGENT SOUND

Hands-free calling

Streaming music

Voice-operated controls

CONNECTIVITY

Bluetooth capability

Internet via smartphone

Sync updates via smartphone

HARDWARE

High-speed microprocessor

Built-in GPS system

Wide-angle lens for rear camera

SOFTWARE

Open software development kit allows you to develop your own apps for SKULLY Synapse

VISOR

Anti-glare, anti-fog, anti-scratch and uses an adaptive liquid crystal technology, e-Tint, that responds to varying lighting conditions

Ultra wide-angle rear view camera

DISPLAY

SKULLY Synapse

Vision Enhancement shows a high-quality image of the rear view in wide panoramic angle

SKULLY Synapse

Smart heads-up display system with infinite focus

Audio/Visual

Global Positioning System (GPS) navigation

EASY

Quick release for chin strap and visor

ARMOUR

Lightweight aerodynamic polycarbonate

SAFETY

DOT and ECE safety certifications

The Department of Transportation (DOT) (US) and the Economic Community of Europe (ECE) ratings are the most widespread helmet standards internationally

COMFORT

'Outlast' lining reduces perspiration by 70 per cent

3D laser-cut foam for a perfect fit zaihan@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on August 26, 2014.
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