Headway turns an entire helmet into a speaker
By Stu Robarts
February 6, 2014
For those who like to listen to music while biking, skiing or snowboarding, Headway aims to satisfy with good vibrations. The device attaches to the outside of a helmet using a magnetic mechanism in combination with a secure mounting system, and turns the whole thing into a wearable speaker. Music is streamed to the system from a smartphone, and controlled using a companion app.
Rather than emitting sound from a speaker, Headway uses surface transduction to transmit vibrations through the helmet itself. The result, in the words of Headway's founder and CEO Sophie Willborn, "turns the whole helmet into an acoustic resonating body with outstanding audio quality."
Willborn explained to Gizmag that Headway was borne out of her two passions, motorbikes and music. Frustrated with having to deal with awkward headphone cables and earbuds that become easily dislodged, she went about finding a solution. One of the ideas she tried was surface transduction and it proved to be surprisingly successful. "I was overwhelmed by the sound inside the helmet," she says.
Working out of the Berlin Startup Academy, Willborn created the first of several prototypes by September 2013 and began testing it. Specific prototypes were created for design and functionality, and ongoing development led to a wireless version at the beginning of this year. The final design is a 3D-printed device that communicates with a user's smartphone via Bluetooth. Willborn and her team will begin crowdsourcing funds for the production of Headway in April. The technical development has been funded with angel investment.
A variety of issues were tackled during the development process, including what material to use, how long the battery should last, how the device should be attached to the helmet and what features the app should have. The name of the device was also changed from Rockatoo to Headway.
When asked how Headway compares to headphones, Willborn enthuses "It’s like being in a soundbox. The whole helmet is the acoustic resonance body so you can hear the music from everywhere around you. The best thing is, you can feel the bass. The whole helmet vibrates when you hear music with strong bass."
Assuming the crowdfunding process goes to plan, Headway will be available from the middle of 2014 and will retail for around €270 (US$365).