Bell and 360 FLY Join Up to Create Helmets with Integrated Cameras

The action camera market just got a little bit more interesting with Bell Powersports and 360 Fly announcing that they are teaming up to produce helmets together that combine Bell’s expertise in the motorcycle helmet industry with 360 FLY’s next generation action camera. And this isn’t an aspirational announcement either – the helmets will be on sale before the end of the year.

This is exciting for two reasons. Firstly in some jurisdictions such as the states of New South Wales and Victoria in Australia, attaching anything to your helmet – including action cameras – has been deemed illegal. There’s nothing the plod can do however about a helmet with an integrated camera – and one with a full 360 degree field of view no less. This will allow riders to prove their innocence in accidents like never before – both in front and from behind.

But it’s also great news for track riders. Many tracks have banned the use of cameras at their facilities due to the potential hazard they can cause (and of course the resulting insurance issues). Yes, action cameras can come off their mounts and a small missile bouncing in front of other riders isn’t really safe. Facilities that do allow cameras almost universally don’t allow them to be attached to a rider’s helmet in any event. But now, that won’t be a problem.

Bell and 360 FLY Join Up to Create Helmets with Integrated Cameras

The two helmets that will first receive the 360 Fly integration are the 2016 Bell Star and the Bell Moto-9 Flex. Despite the obvious lump atop the helmet, Bell seem to have done a pretty good job of integrating the 360 Fly into the overall design – it looks a lot better than a GoPro stuck on top of your lid in any event.

“The benefits of integrating digital video and intuitive digital technology into action sports
helmets is a ground-breaking advancement for our sports,” said Terry Lee, Executive Chairman & CEO, BRG Sports. “This “smart helmet” collaboration with 360 Fly is yet another landmark milestone within our 60-year history of helmet innovation and industry leadership.”

“From day one, our focus has extended beyond the baseline benefits of immersive 360-degree VR content, and into the expansive universe of intuitive “smart” technologies that our single lens technology enables,” said Peter Adderton, 360 Fly CEO. “These helmets are merely the first of many unique applications for these technologies enabled by our proprietary 360 Fly 4K platform.”

It gets better, though. The integrated 360 Fly camera is detachable, allowing it to be utilized independent of the helmet by the user in other scenarios. There’s also a number of new features that will be rolled out for the range of helmets including:

  • AutoPilot action tracking – Allows users to track and follow the main subjects in their
    videos, making it easy to create dynamic edits with the rider at the center of it all.
  • Collision Avoidance Alert – Senses and automatically notifies the rider of potential
    oncoming dangers that are outside the rider’s natural field of vision
  • Live Streaming — For professional, commercial or advanced users looking to live stream 360-degree video, the integrated camera pairs with its Micro-HDMI accessory base and is able to output a real-time full 360-degree HD video stream

Bell has confirmed that the new helmets will be SNELL certified but no word on whether they will meet European or AU/NZ standards as well. They also won’t be cheap. The Bell Star on its own costs around $600 US, while the 360 FLY retails for about $400 US.

Bell and 360 FLY Join Up to Create Helmets with Integrated Cameras

Is The iC-R The Best Smart Helmet Yet?

We’ve seen a lot of hype surrounding the next generation of motorcycle helmets. The likes of SKULLY and Nuviz had gotten us excited, only to end up disappointing with delayed launches and the seeming inevitability of vaporware. But now there’s a new kid on the block and the iC-R could actually be the best of the bunch.

The iC-R (Intelligent Cranium) helmet packs a lot of the same technology that these other products do, but what we like most about it is that it actually seems to make an effort to make these features part of improving rider safety instead of just being there for the sake of it. It includes the usual tricks such as HUD navigation, weather updates and so forth but there’s a few really nice additions that are “Why didn’t they think of that before?” ideas.

Firstly is the rear camera. Although it’s actually two rear cameras which give a total field of view of 210° allowing the rider to see a wider view of what is behind him or her; completely removing the need for the rider to take his or her eyes off the road ahead. It almost eliminates all blind spots.

The greatest innovation however is what is described as interior notification lighting. There are two LED lights (amber & red) that the rider will see at the edge of their vision to act as a warning of cars coming behind from behind. The LED lighting system works in tandem with a warning sound and/or vibration inside the helmet. The soft amber color means “Warning”; which will blink in 2 second intervals when a vehicle gets within 420 ft. This feature is also accompanied by a warning sound and/or vibration (optional) inside the helmet. The red color means “Danger”; which will blink in 1 second intervals when a vehicle gets within 240 ft. Great for every rider who fears being taken out from behind.

There’s a few other unique features as well, including a solar panel on top of the helmet to assist with charging, an open SDK (for custom mobile application development) and an “E-tint” that allows you to turn your visors tint on or off at the flick of a button.

If this comes to fruition, it seems to be the most compelling smart helmet offering so far. If you’re interested in supporting the development of the iC-R, head to the Indiegogo funding page.