Silicon Valley, CA, USA. September 2, 2014 — A motorcycle accident in Barcelona has led to the development of a connected helmet that critics and beta testers are calling revolutionary. The high price of $1,500 may be less surprising, writes Jeremy Cowan, when you hear that the AR-1’s design includes GPS navigation, Bluetooth connection, a panoramic rear view camera, head up display (HUD) and instant tint visor.
In 2010 SKULLY, Inc.’s founder and CEO, Marcus Weller was riding his motorcycle in Barcelona, Spain when he looked to his right to read a street sign. At that moment a car in front of him braked sharply and he rode into the back of the vehicle receiving several injuries but fortunately walking away. Some weeks later he had a dream that vividly recreated the events; only this time instead of ending with his accident the dream ended with him viewing a GPS map via a hologram, enabling him to avoid the car in his dream. Weller woke up at 4.00am and immediately went online to see if he could buy such a helmet, only to conclude that if such a design was out there it was so badly marketed that he could not find it.
So, in 2013 he launched the business to pioneer intelligent vehicle systems technology for the transportation industry. The result is the SKULLY AR-1, which is claimed to be the first vertically-integrated smart HUD motorcycle helmet for consumers. SKULLY’s Synapse™ connected technology platform enhances riders’ road awareness by linking advanced optics to a network of cameras, sensors and microprocessors. Among its features are:
- A transparent head-up display that is always in focus
- An ultrawide angle rear view camera
- Audio-visual GPS navigation
- Internet connection via your smartphone
- Bluetooth connection via your phone, and
- Hands-free calling
- Electrochromic instant tint visor
The head-up display shows critical information in the line of sight allowing the rider to keep their eyes on the road ahead. The HUD shows a rear view camera feed with a near 180 degree viewing angle. It not only displays what is behind the rider, but also what is in their left and right blind spots. As an option the display can also show turn-by-turn directions. These icons are only present when needed, then they automatically disappear when not in use. Where it’s supported by the motorcycle, the HUD can show vehicle telemetry such as road speed, selected gear, and tachometer reading.
The target for battery life when the AR-1 helmet launches next year is nine hours, say the designers. The SKULLY smartphone app will automatically download maps for your region during the initial set-up.
CEO Marcus Weller attended the University of Minnesota, where he assisted research on Intelligent Transportation Systems and worked in Human Factors Engineering and Industrial Psychology. He holds a Ph.D. in Industrial Psychology and describes himself as “a motorcycle fanatic”. He spent years in the automotive and semiconductor industries before founding SKULLY in 2013.
The company’s vice president, Business Operations, is Mitchell Weller. He shares his brother’s passion for motorcycling which led him to join the company in 2013 after holding director positions in human resources, operations, and materials logistics. Mitchell served in the US Army and holds a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Minnesota.
Monsoon’s RainFactory division handled the strategy and implementation of the successful crowdfunding campaign. With seven days still to go till the close of its campaign on Indiegogo, pre-orders for the connected motorcycle helmet have now reached US$1.6 million. This represents 640% of its initial $250,000 goal which was passed in eight minutes of the campaign starting on Indiegogo on August 10, 2014. The $1 million mark was surpassed in under 48 hours and the campaign will close on September 9.
The international price of the AR-1 is US$1,499. Helmets will begin to ship in July 2015, after the company has fulfilled its pre-orders for those who paid upfront.
SKULLY is a privately held company with strategic partnerships spanning the world’s leading automotive and technology companies.