Germany-based design firm WertelOberfell has teamed up with material scientists, material suppliers, end-users and manufacturers to develop ESUB Tracks, a conceptual design for a smart bicycle helmet powered by flat-printed organic photovoltaics. Designed to prioritize safety, the proposed smart bicycle helmet is equipped with proximity sensors, a printed piezoelectric microphone that accepts basic voice commands for hands-free use, turn signal indicator lights and printed piezoelectric bone conduction speakers that provide audio via Bluetooth without distracting from the surrounding environment.

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A person sitting on a bicycle, wearing a helmet and checking their phone.

To maximize solar access, the designers covered the entire surface of the uniquely shaped helmet with flat printed organic photovoltaics to recharge the printed organic batteries tucked inside a unit in the lower rear part of the helmet. Plans also show the rear part of the helmet would contain turn signal indicator lights as well as left and right piezoelectric haptic actuators that vibrate to warn the cyclist if a fast vehicle is close approaching. Meanwhile, the area in front of the rider’s ears includes leather straps with Bluetooth speakers attached via heat pressing.

A black helmet with a red light-up strip and the text "ESUB" written on it.

“One of the goals of this EU Horizon 2020 project was to stimulate interdisciplinary design and material research, process optimization and to develop less toxic and more eco-friendly alternatives in the field of printed electronics,” the designers explained in a project statement. “It explores how novel materials can help to improve safety and the user experience while commuting or cycling for leisure.”

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A close-up of a printed organic battery.

A Nano Arduino board controls all electric components, from the Bluetooth-connected speakers to the electric drive that fastens the straps for a snug and custom comfortable fit. The ESUB Tracks smart bicycle helmet concept was created with funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program under grant agreement No. 761112.

+ WertelOberfell

Images via WertelOberfell