There is no shortage of bicycle helmets with smart-branded extras. Usually it's a music speaker or "gamifiaction" app that actually makes riding less smart and more dangerous. But helmet manufacturer Babaali is offering something that could actually prove useful: a Google Glass-style eyepiece that gives you a live video stream of everything behind you.
We were given a demo of the Babaali ASP-008 at CES 2016 by chief designer Jon Heaphy (pictured); an affable New Zealdander who had charmingly never heard of CES before attending this year. According to Heaphy, the average cyclist isn't particularly tech-savvy, so the company is looking to attract the interest of professionals first. It is hoped this will create a "flow-on" effect in the cycling community at large.
So how does it work? The helmet comes with a fold-down eyepiece that acts like a digital rear view mirror; the footage is captured by a lens on the back of the helmet which provides a clear and unobstructed view of the road behind the rider. The helmet also comes with Bluetooth connectivity which gives it the potential for online navigation; just like the defunct Google Glass.
The unit is currently still in the prototype stage, but Heaphy reckons the final model will be ready to roll out in the next few months.
"All the components worked perfectly; we're just in the process of finalising the helmet's finish so that it exceeds road safety standards," Heaphy explained. This has proved particularly difficult in Australia, which Heaphy acknowledged has more stringent helmet laws than most other markets. To be sold here legally, some additional tweaks may be required to the rear of the helmet, he said.
If all goes according to plan, the ASP-008 will retail for approximately $US600. You will need to purchase it directly from the company's website, however.
In the meantime, you should be able to snap up the ASP-001 model, which comes with inbuilt LED turn signal indicators. These are controlled via a wireless remote which attaches to the handlebar of your bike. You can use it to indicate left and right turns or have both flashing as a hazard indicator. We saw it in action and it's pretty snazzy.
If Heaphy can be believed, the ASP-001 will retail for just $100; and that includes the wireless controller. "The big retailers love products that don't exceed $100 RRP, so that's the price we're going with," Heaphy said. Sounds good to us!