Punks bring wireless comms to existing bike helmets
While there are bicycle helmets with built-in radio communication systems, they do end up replacing what are otherwise perfectly good helmets. The Punks system is an alternative, as it adds wireless comms to bike helmets of pretty much any kind.
Currently the subject of a Kickstarter campaign, the setup is manufactured by outdoor tech company Aleck.
Hardware-wise, Punks consists of two electronic modules which get clipped onto the helmet's chin strap on either side of the face, right in front of each of the wearer's ears. Both units are linked via Bluetooth to an app on the user's smartphone, which in turn uses local cellular networks to communicate with multiple other sets of Punks, on multiple other riders.
By pushing a button on either module, users can switch between Party mode – in which all members of a group can be heard at all times – and Push-to-Talk, which keeps things quieter. Wearers can also utilize the Punks to listen to music, or place and receive phone calls. And importantly, because the modules aren't blocking the ear canals, users can still also hear what's going on around them.
Wind noise reportedly isn't a problem, thanks to three features of the Punks.
First of all, the main mic is covered in open-cell foam and is shielded from the wind by the module's body. As a side benefit, the module also shields the user's ears from wind noise, not unlike the fuzzy Cat-Ears we covered 11 years ago.
Secondly, a secondary mic is used to monitor and cancel out wind noise. And thirdly, cloud-based algorithms are utilized for additional noise reduction.
According to Aleck, each module weighs 16 grams (0.56 oz) and should be good for seven hours of runtime per 1-hour charge of its 180-mAh lithium battery. The electronics are IP65 water-resistant, meaning they can withstand low-pressure water jets.
Assuming the Punks reach production, a pledge of US$89 will get you a pair – the planned retail price is $149. They're demonstrated in the video below.