Ask a hundred entrepreneurs where they draw inspiration and you’ll probably get a hundred different answers, but few are likely to be as unusual as that of Marcus Weller. The CEO of Skully Helmets came up with his idea for a high-tech motorcycle helmet after smashing into a car on a street in Barcelona.
“I was looking at a street sign when the car in front slammed on its brakes and I hit it,” he said.
Weller thinks the accident wouldn’t have happened if he’d kept his eyes on the road, so he came up with a way to get navigation information projected onto a heads-up display in the rider’s helmet. With good directions, the rider wouldn’t need to spend as much time looking at road signs.
The helmet’s other differentiating feature is a rear-facing camera that collects a 180-degree image of what’s behind the bike and feeds it to the same display. There’s also a voice control interface.
Weller is due to unveil the helmet Thursday at the Demo conference in Silicon Valley, where attendees will be able to try it on. It will be the first time the helmet has been demonstrated in public.
Information isn’t projected on the visor but onto a display that appears to the rider as if it’s about 6 meters ahead of them. It doesn’t interfere with the rider’s primary field of view and allows riders to lift the helmet visor without losing the display, Weller said.
The display and associated electronics are powered by a built-in battery that lasts about nine hours. The helmet pairs over Bluetooth with a smartphone for the Internet connection needed for the GPS navigation and mapping service.
The company plans to begin limited beta testing in the spring of 2014 and says it has yet to decide on a price for the helmet but that it will be a “premium product.”
Martyn Williams produces technology news and product reviews in text and video for PC World, Macworld, and TechHive from his home outside Washington D.C.. He previously worked for IDG News Service as a correspondent in San Francisco and Tokyo and has reported on technology news from across Asia and Europe.