Classon is "the world's most intelligent helmet." But is this what cyclists need?
When I was a kid, my dad owned a really old Jaguar. It had turn signals that were complicated little arms that folded out and up from each side of the car, trying to be like people making traditional hand signals. Soon after that, turn signals became lights on the rear of cars. Cars stopped trying to be like people.
Now we have the Classon bike helmet from Brooklyness. It is trying to turn cyclists into cars.
It has everything: Turn signals, brake lights and a sound system, just like a car. It has front and rear cameras, just like new cars are getting. The brake lights are engaged by an accelerometer, and the turn signals by a "gesture sensor" that detects you extending your hands. It has an app with maps, connects to your phone and gives you directions. It has 4 GB of memory to save 6 hours of video. It has dual 1Ghz microprocessors that analyze the videos from the cameras and an algorithm that determines if there is a car in your blind spot:
When cars approach, you are notified by a blinking light on the visor in your peripheral vision. We've developed a patented, non-disruptive, lighted visor interface that communicates with the rider, keeping them informed without taking their eyes off of the road.
It sounds pretty amazing.
Actually, it sounds impossible. It will retail for $299 and the Kickstarter earlybird special is a third that; a Fly12 camera and light for your bike, doing only two of the functions of this helmet, goes for $499. Some of these functions, like blind spot detection, seem pretty hard to do, and others, like hand gesture detection, seem silly- a good useful turn signal would let you keep your hands on the handlebars.
But the main problem I have with this is the same as I had with other magic helmets we have shown: They are the wrong approach to cycling safety. PSFK titles its post on the Classon "This Bike Helmet’s Features Could Make Your Ride Much Safer." But does it really? Or is it just more begging drivers to please not hit us. About arming cyclists up with technology instead of making the roads safe. (see Why bike helmets are the last thing we should be worrying about)
Turn signals were designed because drivers couldn't see hand signals; Brake lights because cars move so fast that drivers needed the extra warning time. Are these helpful on bikes? Are the blinking lights and warnings and directions turning our helmets into car dashboards of distraction? Will they just give drivers another excuse- "I didn't see him, he wasn't wearing a helmet with lights and turn signals"?
Are they making something that is very simple, as easy as riding a bike, complicated and expensive?
One cycling tweeter I follow says much the same thing about cars.
Yet another stupid attempt to turn people on bikes into little cars. While failing to make anyone any safer https://t.co/xY3A4k8LIU— Sean (@seanlondonandon) June 21, 2016
Although I really do like the big holes in it and the way it is designed to be locked to the bike. Every helmet should have that.