A Danish engineering team has come up with a rather futuristic idea: a helmet that talks to your e-scooter. It also happens to be extremely thin, and it’s foldable too, all of which the company hopes will make people perceive the helmet as more of a fashion statement than a boring safety item and drive up levels of helmet-wearing.
What’s all this about a talking helmet?
Newton-Rider’s helmet features an embedded NFC chip. Sounds simple, but the benefits are quite something. For a start, that means that the helmet can talk to an e-scooter’s software, so the app can check whether a rider is wearing the helmet and suggest incentives for doing so.
“The rider simply taps the helmet with the mobile, and our system sends the scooter provider a message back if it is a legitimate helmet,” says a spokesperson from the Copenhagen-based start-up. “Then the rider can get a bonus or whatever the provider has put in place to incentivise riding with a helmet.”
There’s more. “Our system can even unlock the scooter, so the user does not even need to unlock the scooter separately,” the spokesperson continues. “The procedure is super fast and will help providers show city authorities that they care for safety.”
But some shared scooters already have helmets, so what’s the point?
They do. But they’re shared helmets. We’re not too sure whether riders would use those at the best of times. And, thanks to Covid, we are not living at the best of times.
With this helmet, riders would keep their own little foldable unit in a back or pocket and just slip it on, like a hat or scarf, when renting a scooter.
So what’s all this about being thin?
The Newton-Rider helmet is ridiculously thin, at 16mm thick. That is less than half the thickness of helmets with comparable safety standards, according to the company. And it folds. So it can be easily popped away in a bag or even a pocket.
The company says the unit is made from “non-Newtonian materials”. In other words, materials whose viscosity changes when subjected to force to become either more liquid or more solid (thank you, Wikipedia). Ketchup is one example, albeit the opposite of what the helmet is trying to achieve.
Lastly, it’s apparently a bit elastic, so it sits more snugly on a rider’s head. It looks a bit like a rugby scrum-cap to us, but that’s no bad thing.
Lovely. Where can I buy one?
You can’t. Not right now, anyway. Newton-Rider is crowdfunding the development of the helmet. To invest, visit the team’s IndieGoGo page. There are only 16 days left on the campaign, however, so you’ll need to hustle.