Tail-light-packin' helmet is powered and activated by ambient light
Light-equipped bike helmets are now fairly common, but most of them still have to be plugged into a charger, and manually turned on and off as needed. The just-announced Omne Eternal, however, lets ambient light do all the work.
Manufactured by Swedish helmet company POC, the Omne Eternal features a built-in tail light, a motion sensor, an ambient light sensor, a battery, and a top layer of a photovoltaic material known as Powerfoyle.
The latter is a thin, flexible product made by Swedish tech firm Exeger. It's a unique type of dye-sensitized solar cell, which is claimed to be very efficient at converting any type of light – indoor or outdoor – into electricity. Among its "active ingredients" are a top layer of titanium dioxide nanoparticles coated with light-absorbing dyes, and a bottom layer of a proprietary conductive material by the name of Electrofyl.
When the Omne Eternal helmet is exposed to light, its Powerfoyle charges the onboard battery, which in turn provides power to the tail light and sensors. The ambient light sensor automatically turns the tail light on when it gets dark outside, and switches it off in bright conditions. The motion sensor, meanwhile, turns everything off once the helmet hasn't moved in a while. Picking the helmet back up again awakens it.
"When used outdoors, on an average day with mixed clouds, the helmet battery will gain about twice the energy used to power the light," POC's Damian Phillips tells us. "Another way to exemplify this is that the energy consumed when biking for one hour to work on a dark morning can simply be restored by leaving the helmet for one hour in a bright window."
Phillips adds that there is no option for manually charging the helmet's battery via a power cord, as light exposure should be sufficient on its own. As part of POC's efforts to keep things simple, there is also no on/off button.
Plans call for the Omne Eternal to be commercially available in Europe as of June, and in North America by the end of the year. It will be priced at €250 (about US$303).