Being visible in the dark is of crucial importance to cyclists and skateboarders setting out at night, so with that in mind the Exertion Games Lab team at RMIT University in Australia has created the LunaHelm — a cycle helmet fitted with 104 LEDs that can be controlled by the wearer to create light signals! Not only does this mean they are seen in the dark, but they can also indicate to traffic where they are turning, without taking their hands off the grips.
Developed by Wouter Walmink, Alan Chatham and Floyd Mueller of RMIT, the LunaHelm project aims to change how “we can communicate, express and play”. On the website, the team said: “We are exploring how this can make cycling safer, skateboarding more expressive, improve communication on construction sites, and affect any other activity requiring a helmet. Through this design and research process we want to find out what wearable technology in the future may look like and how it can be more intimately integrated in our everyday lives.”
The helmet itself is a normal cycle helmet, but is covered with multiple LED strips. By carefully positioning the strips, the team was able to cover the curved surface of the helmet evenly in light. The LED system itself is controlled using an Arduino Uno microcontroller, which allows the wearer to use the helmet as a way to deliver turn signals to traffic while riding a bike.
While the helmet does look like a glow-in-the-dark mollusc, the team believe the LunaHelm has great potential especially as it can be used to create any visual the user desires, including physical stats.
“The helmet could take any sensor input as a source for visualization, we have already build in an accelerometer. This sensor measures motion, allowing the user to control the helmet through head movement. Furthermore, LumaHelm can also visualize heart rate to make other (road) users aware that the helmet wearer is a fragile human being and makes visible to others that the wearer invests physical effort. Increased physical effort can lead to decreased attention, hence the LumaHelm makes visible that cyclists might not be in the same bodily state as their fellow road users such as car drivers, hopefully contributing to a better understanding of each other’s different needs, furthering the appreciation of each other.”
Click below to watch the LunaHelm in action with a musical input!