I built a second prototype with a new helmet and a Bluetooth headset with an integrated microphone. Now the user do not have to take care of any wires while connecting his mobile phone to the helmet.
The first tests have shown, that the music is loud enough to listen to it while riding and it is possible to hear the environment. But if the speed is higher than 20km/h the headphones and the headwind are generating an annoying noise.
The same happens with calls. And due to the fact, that the microphone does not has a cover at all, the caller cannot understand a word if the bicycle goes faster than 15km/h. But maybe this problem can be solved by cover the microphone with a small piece of foam (-> next task).
Due to the fact, that the headphones are just taped to the helmet, the wind lifts them while speeding up. So they have to be fixed to it in another, more stable way (-> next task)
And I still go no answer from the Buhel company regarding their bone-conduction microphone.
During the last weeks I worked on and with my first prototype. I tried out different kinds of headphones and played with the distance between them and the ears. The result of that is, that the volume of in-ear headhones are not loud enough to youth them as speakers. Than means I have to stick to bigger sized over-ear headphones.
I contacted the BuhelStore and Buhel via email and facebook for their Helmet Communication System which I had already mentioned in my last post. I asked them for one of their units for a students research project. But they haven’t answered yet.
For the next weeks:
I will build a second prototype. The second version of my helmet will be wireless and will have a microphone. Thus the user has also the possibility to make and take calls and not just listen to music while riding the bike.
I decided to continue on working on a bicycle helmet with an integrated communication unit and do not switch to a collar with the same functionality. Because in my opinion it is recommended to wear a helmet while cycling and maybe such a helmet would have the result that a few more people would wear a helmet.
ca. 10% of the German adults wear a helmet while cycling ca. 55% of the kids are wearing a helmet. Source: ADFC
Other products out there
During my ongoing research besides my experiments with a helmet and several headsets I came across two interesting products
Helmet with Beats by Dr Dre
the first one is a product from POC Sports. They created the Receptor + a helmet which “is developed for multi-disciplinary activities and is the only helmet in the world that has the appropriate certifications for skiing, snowboarding, biking, skateboarding and water sports.” Additional they offer the Communication Neckroll with which the user can equip his helmet with a Beats by Dr Dre ® headphones and microphone.
So far this is the most fashionable solution I have seen. But the helmet looks less like a regular cycling helmet and more like a snowboard or bmx-biking helmet. And the headphones look like as they cut off all the surrounding noises. These are two points I want to avoid with my helmet.
Buhel D06 communication system
Buhel offers a helmet communication system which is, according to them, a solution for many different activities, also for cycling. The bone-conduction microphone is designed to fix it on the chin strap of the helmet.
The integration of the bone-conduction microphone into the strap might be a good solution but I want to avoid in-ear headphones and work on another solution.
Beside my researches I am experiencing with a helmet and some little speakers and headphones to come up with a solution which works for listening to music and making calls while riding and take care about the surrounding traffic.
Body storming: I started my research with a body storming. I ride my bike very often, that means if it is possible i try to reach every destination by bike (work, university, friends …). One of the main results (beside the messed up hairstyle) of the body storming where trouble with the headset.
- does not fit exactly into my ear and I lose it from time to time, especially when I turn my head to observe the surrounding road-user.
- either it is just in one ear or I cannot hear the environment
- I cannot see who is calling me
- I cannot dial a number or select a specific song without take out the phone
- Annoying noises when I have strong headwind
- Integrate a (Bluetooth) headset into a helmet
- Integrate a simple display and keyboard into gloves
Further research: Existing solutions like them bicycle helmet with headset 1 or bicycle helmet with headset 2 do not look nice and less useful for listening to music while riding the bike.
The mini speaker which are explained here Mini speaker in helmet are quite good so far for listening to music but are not useful for calls because others can listen.
And what about the energy? A wireless connection needs energy. One possibility are batteries, but they have to be recharged after a while. So maybe one can use other solution? One solution could be solar, but it does not work during the night. Maybe one can use wind energy because while biking there is always headwind.
First concepts for that can be seen here wind helmet 1: description or wind helmet 2: graphic and there is also a first version for solar helmets solar helmet but I guess that can be improved (especially visually :D).
Microphone solutions are not taken into account so far, but maybe this can be combined the the research of Florian and Diego.