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How will digital technology make motorcycle helmets safer?

Ask any car expert and they will agree that the average passenger sedan, sport utility vehicle and light truck have all become considerably safer over the last decade. That's because many of them now come equipped with features such as front-crash prevention systems, lane departure warning systems and enhanced passenger protective systems (i.e., improved airbag, anti-lock brake and seat belt technology).

While motorcycles have certainly seen their design improve over the last ten years, they haven't necessarily become all that much safer. Indeed, most motorcyclists must continue to rely almost entirely on skilled driving and safety gear to keep them safe.

Interestingly, it now appears that one of the most important pieces of motorcycle safety gear -- the helmet -- is actually poised to undergo something of technological revolution that safety experts say will change the face of road safety. 

This technological revolution is being lead by companies like Silicon Valley-based Skully Helmets, which have turned the traditional DOT-certified full-face helmet into a sort of mobile command center.

What makes the Skully AR-1 so revolutionary is that it has a 180-degree camera seamlessly mounted into the spine of the helmet, giving the rider a real-time image of what's going on behind them via a small head's-up display projected inside the visor.

In addition to this improved view, the Skully AR-1 also projects navigation information via the HUD, and has Bluetooth integration enabling a rider to pipe in both music and phone calls into the helmet.  

It's designers have also indicated that that it's possible that software developers could create apps specifically designed for the helmet further down the line, such as a navigation system that provides information on routes, traffic conditions, etc.

They also stressed, however, that the idea is not to overload to helmet with too much digital hardware.

"We want to honor the motorcycle experience," said the founder and CEO of Skully. "We don't try to pull you out of the moment and show too much data in the heads up display." 

The Skully AR-1 is currently in beta testing and will likely hit the market sooner than later at a price of anywhere from $1,000 to $2,000.

Experts have suggested that this may prove to be a small price to pay for a helmet that can not only enhance the experience of riders, but also prevent motorcycle crashes by giving them a greater range of vision.

If you have been seriously injured or lost a loved one in a motorcycle accident caused by the negligent or reckless actions of a motorist here in Illinois or Missouri, consider speaking with an experienced legal professional to learn more about your options for seeking justice.

Source: Popular Mechanics, "Coming this fall: The augmented reality motorcycle helmet," Ben Stewart, May 28, 2014

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