While they haven’t quite caught on, the concept of a smart helmet isn’t a new thing. However, most smart helmets integrate the electronics into the body of the helmet. The 318 SH50 on the other hand relies on MARS or the Mobile Athletic Retention System which packs all of the smart features into a super light retention system that can be integrated into other helmets in the future.
Self contained into a single piece, MARS consists of a dial type retention system that houses the rechargeable battery at the rear along with four flashing LED lights for visibility.
Up front, two flip down bone conducting speakers provide music for your ride without blocking out ambient sounds. There’s also a microphone up front to communicate between riders with their app based Team Management function.
The rechargeable system has a micro-USB port at the rear, which is next to the power button.
There’s also a wireless remote that can be mounted to your handlebars to control the music volume or walkie-talkie communication features.
Importantly, the whole system is super light, with the retention system coming in at just 66g. Since everything is integrated into the retention system, MARS could be easily added to just about any helmet on the market at the OEM level which seems to be mainly what FiTech Sports Technology is hoping to do.
But they’ve also created their own helmet brand called 318 in order to showcase the MARS platform. The SH50 is a good looking helmet that only hints toward its ‘smart’ nature by the speakers protruding from the temples.
When not in use, the speakers can flip up, though when you want to listen to music or communicate, they flip down and press against your temple. Honestly, they could use a bit more adjustability since the pressure against your temple is directly related to how well bone conducting speakers work. In order to hear the music clearly while riding I had to have my phone at max volume, and even then at speeds above 25mph it was nearly impossible to hear anything from the wind noise. Also, with the volume that loud, it didn’t make much difference if the speakers were actually pressed against your skin or not – you could hear it regardless.
But, the important part was that even at max volume, I was still able to clearly hear my surroundings – something that wouldn’t be the case if I was wearing headphones.
Overall, the 318 SH50 seems like a promising smart helmet concept – though I’d want it with some type of rotational impact safety system like MIPS, SPIN, LDL, etc. At 335g for a medium, the SH50 is respectably light considering the amount of electronics on board, and sells for $229.99 with the handlebar remote. Add in some lateral adjustability to the speakers, and the MARS platform shows real promise for a future of smart helmets that don’t stand out for their goofy looks.