LumaHelm: A bright idea for head protection
Some readers may recall the Torch T1, a prototype bicycle helmet we recently featured. It incorporates light panels on the front and back, to make sure that cyclists get noticed by drivers when riding at night. Well, while it may seem to offer quite the light display, it's decidedly subtle compared to the LumaHelm. Designed by a team of researchers at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology’s Exertion Games Lab (which previously brought us the Joggobot), it’s a bike helmet covered with an array of 104 multicolored programmable LEDs.
The trio of Wouter Walmink, Alan Chatham and Floyd Mueller started with an off-the-rack bicycle helmet. They made sure not to modify its basic structure, so that the finished product would still meet safety standards. They did, however, proceed to cover it with strips of LED lights, which were wired together and hooked up to an onboard Arduino Uno microcontroller board. The entire outer surface of the helmet was then covered with a vacuum-formed translucent shell.
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Using the Processing open-source programming language on a linked computer, the Arduino can be programmed to create almost any lighting pattern – moving or static – that the user wishes.
The LumaHelm also contains an accelerometer, which allows the wearer to control the lights via head movements. Presently, this lets users activate flashing “turn indicator” light patterns by purposefully tipping their head left or right, or activate a solid rear “brake light” by tipping their head back.
Down the road, the team hopes that the technology could also be used on other types of helmets, allowing people such as construction workers or rock climbers to communicate non-verbally, giving freestyle skateboarders another avenue of self-expression, or perhaps even allowing athletes to display their heart rate.
There’s no word at this point on the possibility of a commercially-available product. In the meantime, however, you can see it in action in the video below.