DCA Design, a Warwick, UK based industrial design firm, has put forth a prototype bicycle helmet dubbed Optic, offering a rear facing camera and a drop down visor with display capabilities. An onboard computer projects data onto the clear visor, allowing the rider a 360 degree view when the rear facing camera is displayed on the visor. The option of overlaying other data, such as navigation or hazard warnings, brings the Optic into the realm of augmented reality.
Performance data could also be displayed along side real time race stats, however, in it’s current conceptual form, Optic is geared towards bike commuters, which is no surprise as DCA Design’s portfolio includes things like trains, insulin injection pens and other consumer interface/ergonomic solutions. For now it’s focused primarily on issues of safety and convenience, offering navigation, the ability to see what’s behind you, proximity detectors (blind spot monitors) and obstacle monitoring.
The design world liked the implementation of this helmet enough to give it a Red Dot award for innovation. The slickly produced video below gives a good idea of what the helmet is all about and, as with all things digital, much of Optic’s usefulness will depend on the software available to make the whole concept work. In the end though, that’s what this is: a concept. There are no reported plans to bring it to market, though it does seem like the time is ripe for its implementation. The ubiquity of smart phones offers a way to externalize data processing, helping to keep such designs lighter and more affordable, so if this particular iteration of a ‘smart helmet’ doesn’t come to pass, it’s probably not long before we something similar. Maybe even a way to project the info directly onto your favorite shades rather than relying on external monitors like those from Recon, Solos and Garmin. Everysight gets close, but locks you into their sunglasses design.