SMART bike helmet monitors its wearer's heart rate
By Ben Coxworth
March 6, 2013
While a lot of serious cyclists like to check their heart rate while riding, not everyone enjoys having a monitor strapped to their chest ... especially if they’re getting hot and sweaty. A couple of the engineers at Tel-Aviv-based tech firm LifeBEAM felt that way, so they adapted some of the company’s existing aerospace technology to create something new – the heart rate-monitoring SMART bicycle helmet.
LifeBEAM had already created a miniaturized sensing platform by the name of Quantum, for use in the helmets of fighter pilots. Developed in cooperation with the Israeli Air Force, it’s able to monitor a pilot’s heart rate, blood flow, and oxygen saturation while in flight. Should it detect a potentially life-threatening condition such as hypoxia, both the pilot and the ground crew are alerted.
Utilizing some of the same principles as Quantum, the SMART helmet utilizes a sweat-resistant optical sensor mounted on the inside front of the helmet, that gently touches the user’s forehead. That sensor is able to measure the wearer’s pulse, and transmits the raw data to a processing unit in the back of the helmet.
That unit contains a 3-axis accelerometer, which it uses to distinguish between the heart rate data and artifacts caused by movement. The cleaned-up and processed data is subsequently transmitted by Bluetooth 4.0 or ANT+ to the cyclist’s smartphone, fitness watch or cycling computer, where it’s displayed in real time on the device’s screen.
"A chest strap can chafe and irritate while the SMART is completely invisible to the user," LifeBEAM's Itai Maron told us. "You'll never forget to wear it and will not think twice whether to use it or not."
The sensor and processing unit weigh a combined 50 grams (1.8 oz), and will run for at least 15 hours on one charge of their lithium-ion battery. They are currently integrated into a stock Lazer Sport GENESIS helmet, which is included as part of the package. Down the road, LifeBEAM may integrate the system into a variety of other helmets.
The company is currently raising production funds for the SMART helmet, on Indiegogo. A pledge of US$149 will get you one, when and if the funding goal is reached. More information is available in the pitch video below.