Bike Helmet Of The Future Could Detect Traumatic Head Injuries

One of the winners of a contest to translate Prius technology to the real world, this prototype helmet will protect your head—and call an ambulance for you if you take a spill.

pogo stick rider with helmet

You're in a nasty bike accident during rush hour. Nobody stops to help, but your helmet detects that you have sustained a nasty blow to the head and automatically calls 911. This "smart" bike helmet idea, one of five winners in Toyota's Ideas For Good competition, is currently being worked on by engineers from Deeplocal and Carnegie Mellon University.

The Toyota competition, which ended this week, challenged entrants to repurpose Prius technology for use outside of the automotive arena. The smart bike helmet is inspired by T.H.U.M.S. (Total HUman Model for Safety) technology—a piece of simulation software that Toyota uses to measure injury to body parts that can't be detected using conventional crash test dummies.

"We abstracted from that and said let's start with a circuit that's one inch by half an inch, two accelerometers, and three gyroscopes," says Nathan Martin, CEO of Deeplocal. It's a setup that could allow users to track ultra-high impacts (up to 250 g's) as well as movement and tilt. "We can record what's going on with the head as its moving, and see how is it moving up to 400 times per second," explains Martin.

Here's how it works: a pair of circuit boards is attached to a bike helmet. The boards write to a micro SD card, and the whole thing is powered by a small battery. In the event of an accident, a user can simply pull out the SD card, pop it in a computer, and play back what happened. A piece of software provides a visualization of the biker's head as it tilts around and shows the crash's impact.

Eventually, Martin imagines that the bike helmet could use wireless communication instead of an SD card. That would make the scenario described at the beginning of this post possible. The technology could be extended for others uses, too—like a football helmet that senses dangerous head injuries, which have become a large problem for the sport.

There's just one issue to tackle: price. The prototype circuit boards cost $800 a pop, but Martin says that the price may drop to $30 to $40 a board by the time the helmet is ready for market.

The circuit board design was handed over this week to CMU, which will advance the project and search for additional funding (Toyota has offered $100,000 to the university to advance the five winning projects).

"This will be pushed along," says Martin.

Reach Ariel Schwartz via Twitter or email.

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2 Comments

  • Stefan

    Yes, it should be happened. Helmets are used to protect from
    injury at the time of driving. The future use of helmets in this above article
    is really nice. Many of them get injured at the time of working. For this we
    should take precaution.

    For reduce the injury there are different rules and
    regulations in different country. The law related to injury known as injury
    lawyer which plays a vital role to safe our people.http://servingthesufferers.blogspot.i...

  • Aureliu Porumbescu

    First, the fellow who won the IFG grand prize from Toyota
    had an idea that any engineer readily saw that it was not implementable, and
    lacked ‘creative zing’, so to speak J,  but the
    article is not reporting on that, it is reporting on his idea undergoing a
    transformation that will made it worthwhile. Your article is reporting, to my
    dismay, that Deeplocal, the prototyping company affiliated with Carnegie
    Mellon, in an effort to give the grand prize winner’s idea some traction, has
    stripped the idea that I had submitted without even giving me any credit, and
    simply used my work to make him look good. (I was another finalist in this
    contest.) Sorry to bring this up, but
    I really have a problem with malfeasants getting away with stuff and cheating
    must be exposed, if for no other reason, just to expose the losers. (True, I was
    a professor before I retired, so it’s easy for me to say that.)

    I am the poor loser, you are now thinking: when you don’t
    win you are indeed supposed to fade gracefully into the background, but there
    is ONE exception: when you were cheated in a rigged game. So, because the
    burden of proof that someone rigged the game is on me, here is where they
    slipped up: the contest Administrator had declared the Grand Prize Winner on
    May 9, but the Toyota people had my name as the winner and only edited it out
    of Toyota’s Facebook announcement as late as May 21. We know this because the
    Toyota people omitted to correct the other place where my name appeared in the
    announcement: Quoted here is the May
    21 announcement by ToyotaUSA on its Facebook Wall (the same announcement also appeared
    on several dealers’ walls and will remain there forever): “Stu S. won the T.H.U.M.S. category of the Ideas for Good challenge.
    Learn more about the idea and follow it as engineers at CMU and Deeplocal help
    Aureliu Porumbescu attempt to bring it to life.” Evidently, the name of the
    winner is supposed to be the same as that of the person who “will attempt to bring it to life” with
    help from Carnegie Melon University and Deeplocal.

    Switching winners
    in a National Challenge is a very big offense, so how did that happen to an
    iconic company like Toyota, pillar of integrity and creator of standards of
    behavior for the world automotive industry and, indeed, for manufacturing in
    the entire world? I would guess that Toyota was blindsided by the contest
    administration outfit ignoring the scores on the technical side, but, faced
    with a fait accompli, Toyota conveniently ‘forgot’ the location of the ‘andon
    cord’ and ultimately several layers of management at Toyota accepted the status
    quo and just erased my name. (Sort of like not recalling a car when something is
    wrong with a component on the acceleration control board, I guess.)

    Using the work I
    freely gave away without giving me credit is a horse of a different color though;
    as for why would some advertising company strip me of what was rightfully mine,
    that is more a commentary on the human nature than anything else. I gave away
    this idea-for-good with the best, most altruistic intentions, only to see it
    stripped of its ideal and to see the credit go to someone else’s ideal.

    As for Toyota, the
    paragon of ethical business behavior, I guess that they should either learn not
    to entrust advertisers with their business’ andon cord, or rename the Prius
    Priapus, so people know what to expect. Then again, who gives a
    hoot?!