Redmond, WA company Coros Wearables is launching a new helmet that comes with more than the usual bells and whistles. The product, launched on KickStarter, has been dubbed the Coros LINX Smart Cycling Helmet. In a nutshell, it is a bunch of useful technology stuck into a bicycle helmet. If you are going to wear a helmet, you might as well use one that comes with a smartphone app.
I personally have been experimenting with listening to music while riding recently, so this just happened to pop into my awareness at the right time. Recent laws in California – and common sense – mean that riding with both ears covered is illegal as well as dangerous. I recently decided to order a single-earbud device that channels both stereo channels into one ear which seemed a reasonable compromise. I haven’t yet received it yet so I’ve no idea if I’ll like it or not.
The Coros LINX Smart Cycling Helmet takes a different approach however. It uses bone conducting technology to transmit sound without covering the ears – either one of them. Bone conduction of sound is not new, and has had both success and failure in the past. However, I don’t recall anyone yet combining it into the helmet though.
Sound waves are converted into vibrations delivered through your upper cheekbones. The Cochlea receives the vibrations, bypassing the ear canal and ear drum. For cyclists this is super important because that means you can hear audio AND hear your surroundings as you ride, such as cars and other potentially dangerous obstacles.
It goes beyond a simple combination of helmet and bone conducting headphones, however. It also has an embedded microphone for on-ride calls. The company advertises the ability to make and receive calls directly from the helmet, as well as listening to your music and hearing route cues and directions over the music while riding. There are even hints of a rider to rider communication feature with your buddies on the same ride.
In addition, there is a “G-Sensor” embedded in the helmet. This will call a “loved one” if a crash is detected. Presumably this will all happen through the smartphone app that is you install on your phone. Available for iOS and Android, the app is slated to have GPS functionality and, presumable, a way to tell it what loved one to call should the helmet hit the ground hard enough to trigger it. I haven’t yet been able to find a ton of details about the app, although KickStarter supporter units are slated to ship as early as November.
Last but not least, there is a remote device. Again, this presumably will interact with the smartphone app. And obviously it will take up a little real estate in your bike’s cockpit which, for many of us, is in short supply. That being said, I can see this being fairly handy if the functionality is what one would expect and I can flip through my songs.
Despite my love/hate relationship with bicycle helmets in general, this is one of the KickStarter projects that I actually decided to support. That means I’ll be getting one of these in my hot little hands before most folks. So, stay tuned for an actual review once the product arrives.