Posted on Jun 29, 2015

 The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is calling for new rule-making changes to FMVSS 218, regarding helmet manufacturing standards. They're trying to find a way to allow law enforcement to visually identify sub-standard or novelty helmets that do not meet the 218 standard. On the completely other end of the spectrum comes the proposed iC-R helmet, standing for Intelligent Cranium Rider helmet.

What is iC-R? Right now it's a concept of a technologically advanced SMART helmet. The brain child behind iC-R is Ambrose Dodson, who has assembled a team to assist him in designing the helmet. Dodson saw a need to improve safe lane changes for motorcyclists by eliminating the need to turn their heads from side to side and using mirrors in hopes of seeing all surrounding traffic.  His solution is to equip helmets with two transparent LDC HUD displays that will afford the rider a 210 degree field of view in the rear. When a vehicle is detected to be within 420 feet behind the motorcycle, the helmet will alert the rider with tiny amber LED lights and audio signals. That design theory has met some criticism concerning heavy traffic patterns in urban areas. The alerts could be constant and annoying. The team is revisiting that aspect to find a solution. Another concern was how the rear facing camera would work if there were a passenger.

The camera and lighting systems will be powered by a battery as well as a solar panel on top of the helmet. The battery presents another problem, due to the space it takes up and the location and padding necessary to make it safe.

The face shield can be automatically tinted by a touch of a button, to help reduce sun-glare while riding, and the helmet will also offer integration with smartphones, like some other helmets. That means weather, navigation, music and more will be available.

You can view a video of the helmet concept here.

The heart of the system is a printed circuit board which will enable Bluetooth Smart/LE, OTA software updates, and much more. There's even a Cloud Mobile App so riders can share locations, have two-way communication via voice activation, have access to maps, radar, riding conditions, fuel locations and more.

Sounds ideal, except for one big problem; funding. Right now, the developers are hoping for a shipping date of December 1, 2017. That all hinges on money. Dodson and his team have partnered with a professional sourcing company to help with quality control, shipping and logistics. To reach their goal of $300,000 they're depending on crowdfunding for support and contributions. Pre-orders of helmets will qualify for a discounted price, something to consider with a suggested price-tag of $1,400.

You can visit the Indiegogo site to contribute anywhere from $5 to $1,849 and receive various perks for your donation. It will be interesting to see if crowdfunding will get the job done for Dodson, or if the team will attract some big-time investors.

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Tony Sanfelipo
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Senior Motorcycle Accident Investigator