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Cold war erupts over the world's smartest helmet


Cold war erupts over the world's smartest helmet

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Riding in and out of city traffic can test the patience of most motorcycle riders, especially when trying to find their way. Old style GPS units mean riders have to look away from the road, and sometimes even stop to check where they’re going.

Russian start-up company LiveMap wants to change that with its smart helmet prototype equipped with a built-in navigation system. The directions appear on the helmet’s see-through display directly in the rider’s field of vision thanks to voice control and GPS navigation, so he can see directions without having to fiddle with another device or look away from the road. The display is transparent enough to not obscure his vision.

“When it comes to security, the idea is to create a helmet that enables the rider to navigate while driving without needing to stop and type in a new address on his mobile phone, so he can just do it through voice recognition, by saying “Madison Avenue” for example, and the computer works out the route,” says LiveMap CEO Andrei Artishchev.

Its developers say the advantage over other such helmets being tested on the market is that this one is smaller and lighter.

Already on sale over the internet, the American Skully AR-1 is being touted as the world’s smartest motorcycle helmet, with its 180 degree rear view camera that projects what’s happening behind the rider, too.

But there is one down-side according to its Russian rivals.

“There is a difference in the parametres between our helmet and the Skully. The American helmet is much heavier, I think it weighs almost two kilos, and the Russian one weighs 1,4 kilos. So, there is a big difference. Anything that weighs more than 1,5 kilos is not a helmet,” says Anatoly Sukhov, editor-in-chef at Russia’s Moto Magazine.

While it doesn’t offer a rear view, some prefer LiveMap’s to Skully’s display system, saying it’s easier to see and less distracting.

Both retail for around US$ 1500.

Safer riding is also a concern when it comes to horse-riding.

With the aim of enhancing the performance of racehorses and reducing the risk of injury to both man and animal, a research team from the Royal Veterinary College in England has equipped riders and horses with sensors.

Thanks to the data collected, they are able to compare the riding style of more experienced jockeys with that of novice riders and are hoping to thereby establish the optimal riding position.

“We have 14 inertial measurement units on the jockey and the horse. So they basically measure the movement of the different parts of the jockey relative to the horse. We’re also measuring the forces within the stirrup so we can look at the symmetry of the forces that coincide with the various movements that are measured,” says Dr. Anna Walker, who is leading the research.

While the data is still being collected and analysed, it’s hoped it will lead to improved teaching methods that will ultimately help apprentice jockeys progress faster, the ultimate goal being to reduce the risk of injury.

“If you increase the rate of training, therefore they gain experience or improve their technique very quickly, then you reduce the risk of falls. And if the jockey is more balanced, the horse is more balanced because it’s not having to constantly counteract a wobbly jockey,” says Dr. Anna Walker.

While definite figures are difficult to find, it’s estimated that the risk of serious injury is approximately the same for a horse-rider as for a motorcyclist. With horse-racing frequently slammed as cruel by some animal rights groups, it’s hoped this kind of research will help improve overall security for both horse and man.

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