All the rage at the AWE (Augmented World Expo) 2014 in Santa Clara, California on May 27 and 28 was Fusar Technologies’ truly revolutionary Guardian Brain Bucket, a motorcycle helmet that looks set to revolutionize helmets in the same way Kevlar has raised expectations in the manufacturing of arms and armor.
Are motorcycle accidents a serious issue? Depends upon who’s asking. Over 4,000 people die in motorcycle accidents each year, according to the Christian Science Monitor. In 2008, a record of 5,209 fatalities occurred due to motorcycle accidents. The most common cause of motorcycle-related deaths is accidents due to head injury. Despite the fact that helmets decrease head injuries drastically, many still occur. Compared to fatalities from car crashes, motorcycle accident statistics show that motorcyclists are 37 times more likely to die in an accident each year.
Fatalities in motorcycle accidents have been rising steadily since the late 1990s. Indeed there’s not been a decrease in fatalities from 1997 through 2008. More recent statistics have added more variables and statistical anomalies because bikes like the Ninja 1000, which are extremely lightweight yet loaded with improved horsepower, mean lighter people, especially women, are able to experiment with more power and, therefore, more danger. In 2004, there were over 5.7 million registered motorcycles. For that number, there were 4,008 fatalities. Statistics-wise, for every 100,000 registered motorcycles, there were 69.33 fatalities that year. While motorcycles were only 2% of all registered vehicles, they were involved in over 5% of highway fatalities alone, and 14% of all traffic accidents. These facts are scary!
It took an almost fatal accident to get a techie brain involved. Ryan Shearman, founder and CEO of Fusar was getting an early start to work in the atypically dense San Francisco traffic, when a driver in an SUV reacted too late to his changing lanes. Bruised ribs, a huge contusion on his elbow, scrapes along his thigh and giant headache were a wake up call. Indeed, it’s the kind of thing that can take place in the life of anyone who rides a motorcycle. The helmet, he realized, may have kept his skull from being smashed like an egg on the expressway, but he still came very close to sustaining a fatal fall.
Shearman calls his smart helmet The Guardian; it’s a Department of Transportation (DOT)-approved helmet featuring an Android board, two wide-angle cameras and bits and pieces from Epson’s version of a pair of Google Glasses. This fully integrated, connected device allows the Guardian Brain Bucket wearer to own a full cognitive awareness of what’s going on around them. And by ‘everything around them,’ I mean peripherals and blind spots. The Epson optics provide the rider with an intimately detailed heads-up display. With a full vista of vision, plus data from the rear view camera, their current speed relayed digitally and other navigation information, it’s the safest state a motorcyclist has ever been in.
There’s also the additional advantage of having video recording capability. If it is turned on, the camera will record passively. Should an accident happen, however, footage is saved while being locked into hard memory. It’s sort of like a built-in black box, which ought to make insurance companies very happy. The helmet’s software package is also engineered to monitor the cameras for potential hazards. Theoretically, your computer software can calculate hazards at all times and be able to alert the rider before a dangerous situation takes place.
Fusar Technologies plan to launch their crowd funding imitative by mid July 2014 and want to have the Guardian on sale in the retail market a year from now. Hungry for a safer helmet? Check out their website.