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LumaHelm: A bright idea for head protection

By

June 20, 2012

The LumaHelm, minus its translucent cover

The LumaHelm, minus its translucent cover

Some readers may recall the Torch T1, a prototype bicycle helmet we recently featured. It incorporates light panels on the front and back, to make sure that cyclists get noticed by drivers when riding at night. Well, while it may seem to offer quite the light display, it's decidedly subtle compared to the LumaHelm. Designed by a team of researchers at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology’s Exertion Games Lab (which previously brought us the Joggobot), it’s a bike helmet covered with an array of 104 multicolored programmable LEDs.

The trio of Wouter Walmink, Alan Chatham and Floyd Mueller started with an off-the-rack bicycle helmet. They made sure not to modify its basic structure, so that the finished product would still meet safety standards. They did, however, proceed to cover it with strips of LED lights, which were wired together and hooked up to an onboard Arduino Uno microcontroller board. The entire outer surface of the helmet was then covered with a vacuum-formed translucent shell.

Using the Processing open-source programming language on a linked computer, the Arduino can be programmed to create almost any lighting pattern – moving or static – that the user wishes.

The LumaHelm also contains an accelerometer, which allows the wearer to control the lights via head movements. Presently, this lets users activate flashing “turn indicator” light patterns by purposefully tipping their head left or right, or activate a solid rear “brake light” by tipping their head back.

Down the road, the team hopes that the technology could also be used on other types of helmets, allowing people such as construction workers or rock climbers to communicate non-verbally, giving freestyle skateboarders another avenue of self-expression, or perhaps even allowing athletes to display their heart rate.

There’s no word at this point on the possibility of a commercially-available product. In the meantime, however, you can see it in action in the video below.

Source: Exertion Games Lab via The Age

About the Author
Ben Coxworth An experienced freelance writer, videographer and television producer, Ben's interest in all forms of innovation is particularly fanatical when it comes to human-powered transportation, film-making gear, environmentally-friendly technologies and anything that's designed to go underwater. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, where he spends a lot of time going over the handlebars of his mountain bike, hanging out in off-leash parks, and wishing the Pacific Ocean wasn't so far away.   All articles by Ben Coxworth
5 Comments

Nice concept. I'd suggest making it to deactivate individual LEDs in the event of a crash--this could help diagnose any injury.

Kradak
21st June, 2012 @ 05:08 am PDT

Yet again another pointless use of digital electronics. The LED surface is great but there is little to no value in adding an arduino just because one can. I have been riding for over forty years and I have always wanted LED lights on my helmet and I have added them as the became affordable and at least somewhat acceptably durable.

However, an arduino? And a programmable light scheme? Only if it can digitize flipping off some pinhead driving up behind me.

The only genuine utility is to have a "buick" like wide tail light on the back and some yellow or white marker lights on the sides & front. The headlight variants are really too much, I prefer a headlight on the handle bars.

StWils
21st June, 2012 @ 10:06 am PDT

A simplified version of this helmet could be sold to senior citizens in Honolulu. About 15 of them have been killed in crosswalks this year.

Adrian Akau
21st June, 2012 @ 10:53 am PDT

Years ago I almost ran into a police officer who was directing traffic at night during a heavy rain. He wore no yellow jacket or other items that would have disclosed his location by reflecting light from my headlights. A light on his helmet would have been a good safety device. Upon looking up patent office prior art manually--this was before the Internet--there were many patents of hats or helmets with safety lights on them, but it seems that none of them made it to market. The LumaHelm is an excellent safety device for night use, and not only for bike riders. Hope it catches on.

Origo

origo1
21st June, 2012 @ 11:44 am PDT

I don't think any of these helmet "designers" ride bikes, no matter what they claim. Neither the three identified above nor the designer of the Torch give any consideration whatsoever to ventilation. I started wearing helmets back in the age of Skid Lids, the Bell Biker and the Bell V-1 Pro, when hard, heavy outer shells covered the exterior and vents were smaller but still nowhere near as small or nonexistent as on these designs. I wouldn't want to wear either of these.

At least this one starts with an approved helmet so there's a known level of protection. The Torch is supposed to be an all-new design, and I'm very leery of the protective qualities of such a helmet. The big helmet companies have teams of engineers or biomedical experts on staff, not just a single product designer of questionable qualifications. If you look at the website selling the Torch, you no longer see any claims of CPSC compliance.

Gadgeteer
22nd June, 2012 @ 09:28 pm PDT
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