The future of crash helmets?

CES is apparently the world’s gathering place for all those who thrive on the business of consumer technologies. Owned and produced by the Consumer Technology Association (CTA), this year’s event in Las Vegas saw the presentation of a crash helmet that the developers think paves the way for rider safety of the future.

There have been numerous ‘smart’ motorcycle helmet concepts in recent years and the latest – on display at CES 2020 – is this helmet from a French startup company called Tali Connected. Fully loaded with features, the Tali helmet’s most obvious technical feature it boasts are bands of colour-changing LEDs which the company say improves rider visibility. Other functions these LEDs perform are as a rear-mounted brake light and turn signals.

Paired via Bluetooth with your smart phone, the Tali can not only play music, take phone calls or read off navigation instructions – as can many helmet intercom systems already – but it can also automatically place a call to emergency services when a fall or accident is detected. An ‘app’ is currently in development for both Android and Apple iOS, that will enable this helmet to share real-time location as well as offer a geofence-based alert if the helmet has been stolen. Think of it as a ‘tracker’ device built into your helmet. And again, as with some motorbike-trackers already on the market, if they detect an accident they will call 999. The Tali app is also likely to integrate things like maintenance schedules and record trips.
A photochromic visor is also on the cards, which means it will darken in sunlight/UV and return to clear for night riding. The helmet is planned to be compatible with smart voice assistants like Alexa and Siri, which although the manufacturers claim this will “reduce distraction” as a rider you have to wonder which distractions voice assistants can make less distracting than they actually are themselves?!?

Another thing to note as a rider is that large shape at the rear of the crash helmet. For those who don’t know, spoilers on racing crash helmets are often designed to come off on impact, meaning should the rider crash then their head is protected by an almost perfectly round crash helmet with no odd shapes that could send a sliding rider off suddenly at an angle, causing them severe injury as result. The Tali Connected doesn’t look like a helmet I’d want to crash in, if you know what I mean.

But that may not be something I have to worry about, for not only is the projected retail price of around US$1,200 (approx £920 at today’s exchange rates) quite an expensive helmet to buy, but despite the Tali Connected being in development for over three years, they say they won’t have a functional prototype until March. Then they have to get safety validation sorted as well as finalise all the technical aspects, before launching a crowdfunding effort to get the helmet into production.

If you followed the fairly recent progress and subsequent failure of the Skully ‘smart’ helmet then you’ll understand why company CEO and founder, Issam Tali has a tough road ahead. If you’re interested however you can find out more on his website here.

** ScooterNova is an independent scooter magazine published bi-monthly. Edition 17 was published on 21 December 2019 and covers Jan/Feb 2020.
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