In 2013, 48,743 cyclists were injured on the road, some of them fatally. One reason for this is the lack of visibility cyclists have, particularly when they’re cycling at night. This is a major problem that a new cycling helmet called the Beacon hopes to address — and it’s turning to lasers and some other tech solutions to help do it.
The Beacon Helmet is designed to help tackle blind spot and overtaking accidents, two major sources of cyclist injury that involve other vehicles either failing to see them or else not respecting the minimum distance they should maintain. With that in mind, the Beacon projects a bicycle-shaped laser image up to 40 feet ahead of the cyclist, as well as bicycle lane markers at a safe distance to the right and left. It’s a bit like Michelin’s BikeSphere project, although in this case it’s already available to purchase.
The Beacon also includes a 100-lumen headlight, taillight, turn signals, a brake light activated via an onboard accelerometer, and in-built speaker system which syncs with a rider’s phone for music or navigation instructions.
“When I was a PhD student, I cycled exclusively to save money,” creator Jeff Zhang told Digital Trends. “But I had very bad experience with large heavy goods vehicles, and occasional accidents. A lot of cars overtook me at a very close distance, which didn’t make me feel safe. That made me think of tackling issues such as cyclist safety and blind-spot visibility, and come up with the Beacon Helmet idea. I wanted to use my international background and skills to create a startup, serving cyclists all over the world.”
But is it safe to be cycling while potentially shining laser lights into the eyes of other cyclists? “The lasers are limited to function only when your speed is above a programmable threshold,” Zhang explained. “When cycling at high speed, random head movement is both rare and quick, and therefore disturbance to oncoming drivers is very low. The 3R category laser is also certified to be safe.”
If you’re interested in getting hold of a Beacon Helmet, you can do so by placing a pre-order on Kickstarter, where Zhang is currently raising funds. The laser helmet starts at $238 for the first 100 orders, with other price points available. Shipping is set to take place in April 2018.