The Domio helmet audio system has been out there for a little while now and it's not like anything else on the market. It's a bit of a wacky one, a chunky little unit that sits on the outside of a motorcycle, snowboard or skateboarding helmet, and uses micro-vibration technology to turn the helmet shell itself into a speaker.
That's good, because it means you don't need to squeeze wired speakers into your lid, which can rub against your ears a bit, while blocking out traffic noise that could be valuable.
It's also bad, because every helmet shape is different, and not one single one of them has been designed to be a high fidelity speaker cone when vibrated by a Domio. Also, where a speaker places the sound right into your ear, a vibrating helmet is just a noisy helmet that your head happens to be in, so whoever's walking past at the lights will probably hear your pumpin' commute mix almost as well as you can.
And she's a chunky old unit, this one, probably packing a bit of weight in the speaker magnets and poking out in a way we expect might not be aerodynamically fun at high speeds.
Mind you, the small speakers used in regular Bluetooth kits do tend to struggle with bass frequencies due to their small speakers. There's every chance the Domio might be able to pump out slammin' bass, simply because it's got a bigger surface to shake air with.
Either way, keeping wires and speakers out of things has its benefits. The Domio is cheap, for example, something like half the price of the excellent Sena 20S. And since there's no speaker plumbing to arrange, you can clip it on and off different helmets very quickly, all you need is a separate 3M-backed plastic mount for each lid.
And now, the company claims it's solved one of the original Domio's key issues: the lack of a microphone to take phone calls with.
The Domio Pro, now available for pre-order on Kickstarter, comes with a wireless, noise canceling "air mic" that would appear every bit as ambitious as the Domio itself in its design.
Clipping on to the outside of an open face helmet, or presumably inside a full face, the air mic connects wirelessly to the main Domio unit. It uses beamforming technology to cancel out wind noise and the vibrations coming out of the helmet shell, and only accept sound from a small area right in front of your mouth, despite sitting several inches away.
The company says it sounds great, and works great for phone calls. We'd have to try one before we were convinced.
But either way the investment is pretty small. Earlybirds on Kickstarter can get a Domio Pro for US$129, or a twin set for US$258. Mind you, these things don't have Bluetooth intercoms built in, so if you want to chat with your riding buddy, you'll need to call each other on the phone.
Still, it's an interesting and ambitious way to implement helmet audio and we'd be interested to hear how well it works on a motorcycle at highway speeds.
Check out the team's pitch video below.
Source: Domio Pro
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