We’ve seen bike helmets with integrated front and back lights before. But Boston-based hardware startup Lumos is hoping to go one better by packing a front light, wireless indicator lights and an accelerometer-powered backlight into an otherwise pretty standard-looking cycle helmet. Rechargeable battery included.
The team has just pressed play on a Kickstarter campaign, aiming to raise $125,000 in crowdfunding to turn their current prototype into a shipping product starting from April next year. Thus far they’ve been mostly been bootstrapping development, raising a small round at the end of last year from friends, family and a few angels.
“There are currently no bike helmets in the market that feature integrated brake and turn signal lights. Lumos will be the first to do this,” says co-founder Eu-wen Ding, when asked what’s new here. “This is a huge distinctive feature that will help cyclists more effectively communicate their intentions to people around them.”
He also points to Lumos’ 85 super bright LEDs as a differentiator — claiming the lights are brighter than rival helmets.
Lumos’ triangular rear light uses an integrated accelerometer to switch from flashing to a solid red signal when the rider brakes and slows down.
While the helmet’s left and right signal light indicators are triggered via a wireless remote that attaches to the bike’s handlebars. When wanting to indicate a turn the rider pushes either the left or right button, hearing a beeping sound to confirm the signal has activated.
“The wireless remote works off a 2.4 GHz RF (Radio Frequency) chip. These RF chips are more than powerful enough to handle the signaling feature and are also robust, reliable, and consume very little power, making it ideal for this use case,” says Ding.
“The remote is perpetually in sleep mode by default, but when you press it, it instantly wakes up, sends its signal to the helmet it is paired with (a 1-1 pairing with the helmet that just needs to be done once during first use), and then powers down again within the space of a few milliseconds. This allows the remote to last for months before its coin cell battery would need to be replaced.”
Former Harvard Business School student Ding met Lumos’ other co-founder, mechanical engineer Jeff Chen, at a startup event held at the university, where Ding had been pitching his idea for a connected bicycle helmet. From there they went on to a hardware hackathon at MIT — winning that with an early helmet prototype. At which point Ding decided to drop out of his MBA program to go full time on the project.
The team has now been working with a helmet manufacturer in China for the nine months, and also went through the Hong Kong-based Brinc accelerator, which focuses on IoT devices, ahead of today’s crowdfunding campaign launch.
“We’re coming to the Kickstarter community now because through the work we have already done, we have brought this project all the way to the pre-production stage and we just need the community’s support to get the money necessary to invest in tooling and a full production run,” says Ding.
“Remaining development work that needs to be done is more on the production side of things, setting up our manufacturing process and ironing out the kinks that inevitably develop when setting up a new assembly line for a new product for the first time,” he adds.
The Lumos helmet has an early bird Kickstarter backer price of $85, stepping up to $99 and $119 thereafter. At the time of writing the campaign has already passed the $50,000 mark, less than an hour after launching, so the team is well on its way to getting the project funded.