Japanese startup Borderless Inc’s $1399 smart helmet blurs sci-fi and realityVallabh Rao
While the helmet, priced at $1,399 on Kickstarter (retail value $1,799), is expensive for the price-sensitive Indian market, it is more likely to resonate with luxury automobile aficionados.
If you are a motorcycle enthusiast into expensive mean machines, here is a helmet that can add to your gear — CrossHelmet X1 by Borderless Inc features 360˚ FOV (field of view), ambient sound control, and connectivity for safety and experience.
Arata Oono, Founder and CEO of Borderless, always had a passion for riding. He was 17 when he got his first motorcycle and he now rides a Husqvarna SMS630. Arata’s collection of bikes includes a Norton Manx, BMW R32, and MV Agusta F4 Serie Oro. Before establishing Borderless Inc in 2012, Arata was a product designer at GK Design Group where he worked on several domestic and international projects for Yamaha Motor Co, which included designing the MT-09. He has a degree in design and industrial design from Tokyo University of the Arts. Borderless was chosen to be a part of the Nikon Corporate Accelerator programme and Sony’s Startup Switch seed acceleration programme.
Arata started developing CrossHelmet three years ago. According to international traffic accident statistics by WHO, around 1.25 million people die in traffic accidents every year, nearly half of those dying on the world’s roads are “vulnerable road users”: pedestrians, cyclists, and motorcyclists. Wearing a motorcycle helmet correctly can reduce the risk of death by almost 40 percent and the risk of severe injury by over 70 percent. “The idea of CrossHelmet came out of the frustration of using a traditional helmet while on the road. Problems pertaining to noise fatigue and situational awareness are commonplace; it's just that nobody has yet created a solution that addresses all these issues in one clean package,” says Arata on the motivation behind such a product.
CrossHelmet X1’s rear camera captures 170° directly behind the driver. It is then combined with a wide-view visor that allows more road-view and peripheral vision, offering 360° visibility. Loud noises can increase the stress and fatigue of the rider. To address this, the helmet is equipped with CrossSound Control, a patented noise reduction system that is the first of its kind in the motorcycle industry. It uses an algorithm system to filter out sound distractions like road, engine, and wind noise while maintaining noise cues that are needed for the rider’s safety. The system can also enhance environmental sound as needed.
An accompanying Bluetooth-enabled CrossHelmet app lets users check battery levels, control safety lights, adjust noise settings, and access maps. It is linked to a bifocal, heads-up display at the front of the helmet showing compass direction, weather, time, and navigation. A group chat feature allows the rider to communicate with multiple people at once, even those without a CrossHelmet. The helmet’s speakers provide high-quality music, podcasts/radio, and phone calls.
See the Crosshelmet in action below:
While the helmet, priced at $1,399 on Kickstarter (retail value $1,799), is expensive for the price-sensitive Indian market, it is more likely to resonate with luxury automobile aficionados. “This is a good option for future releases, but to start off, we're only offering one package so that our resources are not spread too thin,” adds Arata on future plans of making a more affordable smart helmet.
The Kickstarter campaign has raised $335,865, much beyond the goal of $100,000, demonstrating a market for this tech-heavy helmet. On partnering with automobile or e-commerce companies globally, Arata adds – “We have received many offers from distributors internationally, from companies of all sizes. Our main focus right now is fulfilling our crowdfunding orders, so we have not yet planned or decided on means of distribution.”
The smart helmet market is in its nascent stage, but with huge potential in developing countries, with India being the biggest market. Skully, a startup which had raised around $2.4M through crowdfunding shut down last year after mismanagement and delays. Last month, there were reports of Skully being revived under a new management.