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Team 6 Smart Helmet Final Report

Edil Islamov, Brian Max, Youngbok Ryu, Steven Simmons, Kerry Young To help ensure the safety and health of every human motorcyclist by designing a product that addresses their major concerns. Our mission statement was finalized after several iterations of planning, developing strategy, and performing market research. When we began this assignment, we had multiple ideas spanning a wide range of markets. We contemplated having a key ring card that held multiple keys in a comfortable package, or having a smart green house with resource monitoring tools. We decided on working on a bike helmet that helped with security problems we have here in Atlanta. Our first iteration of the project had a bicycle helmet with a built in lock and some form of communication back to the owner if any tampering was done. From this we moved toward the motorcycle helmet and safety because we felt this was more of a novel and unique project. Our goals for this project were to help ensure the safety and health of every human motorcyclist and provide owners with the ability to communicate with police authorities and emergency personnel in case of a serious accident. In the duration of the course, our scope was to not only design the helmet in a satisfactory way using modern technology but to understand how well it will function to fit our customers needs. The technical design of the helmet would be both feasible and cost-effective. At the same time, we wanted to make sure that the design is convenient, reliable, and appealing to consumers. With the three months we had, we wanted to find what features are important to consumers in the market for motorcycle safety and how our core design would ultimately meet and exceed their expectations. Additionally, by having our product competitively priced, we will be able to market to all motorcyclists, seeing as helmets are a mandatory safety precaution. In terms of vehicle emergency notification systems, our product could eventually create a consumer base comparable to that which already exists for automobiles.

Market Research
In order to fulfill our mission of ensuring motorcyclists safety and health, it was first necessary to gather data concerning the importance of helmet use. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the number of motorcyclists sustaining injuries in motor vehicle accidents has steadily increased from around 50,000 in 1998 to over 100,000 in 2007 (see Figures 1 and 2). Data from the NHTSA also show an increase in motorcyclists fatality rate from 1998 through 2007 (see Figure 3). The same report estimates that around 1,800 lives were saved by helmets in 2008 and an additional 823 might have been saved if all motorcyclists had worn helmets. The NHTSA also reports that helmets are 37% effective in preventing motorcyclist fatalities. But of the motorcyclists fatalities, 59% of the motorcycle operators and 49% of motorcycle passenger that were fatally injured did wear helmets. In essence, we found that helmets do save lives, and the chances that motorcyclists survive an accident are higher if they choose to wear helmets, but with a slim majority of fatalities still involving helmets, there is room for improvement in the number of lives saved by helmets. After acquiring data to show that helmet use was important, we next looked into trends and laws concerning motorcycle and helmet use. Starting in 2004, helmet use has been steadily increasing after declining between 1998 and 2004 (Figure 4). This decline in helmet use is most likely explained by the repeal of state laws concerning helmet use during this time1. Today, 20 states have laws requiring all riders to wear helmets, 27 states have laws that set age restrictions on the use of a helmet while riding, and 3 states (Iowa, Illinois, and New Hampshire) have no laws regarding helmet use2. Concerning motorcycle ownership, reports a significant decline in motorcycle sales of more than 50% after reaching a peak in 2005 (Figure 5). While this decrease in motorcycle sales does warrant some careful consideration of whether targeting motorcyclists will be feasible in the long run, the upward trends in helmet use show promise concerning the demand and market for helmets.
1 2

NTHSA 2005: IIHS 2011:

Concerning the market for helmets, the spectrum of motorcycle types, helmet types, and riders is quite broad. Our next objective was to discern clear categorization of motorcycles, helmets, and riders; determine correlations between each of those categories; and decide which of those correlated groups our smart helmet would best serve. To best satisfy this objective, we conducted several 1-on-1 interviews with motorcyclists from a variety of age group and motorcycle and helmet preferences. During the interviews, we asked questions concerning the bikers feelings toward safety, their satisfaction, and toward improvements for their biking experience. The responses we received helped us correlate three groups of riders with motorcycle types: young adults with sport bikes, middle-aged adults with standard bikes, and middle-to-senior aged adults with cruiser and touring bikes. With each of these groups comes distinct concerns and preferences for helmet types and features (see Figures 6 and 7). After finding suitable market segmentation, we needed to determine which market our helmet would best fit. Because of the nature of the components we wanted to integrate into a helmet, we chose to focus on groups that preferred full helmets. Full helmets are so named because they fully cover the riders head, including the chin. Full helmets provide the most room in which to integrate new components, and because they tend to be much larger and better designed than other helmets, they often cost more. Based on our research and interviews, we narrowed our focus to three groups of riders that frequented full helmets: advanced riders that participate in street or sport events, law enforcement, and professional cyclists. We chose to focus on younger sport bike riders for two reasons: 1. Younger riders tend to ride sports bikes, for which full helmets are almost a necessity (due to the high speeds at which these bikers travel). 2. Younger riders tend to spend more for features and aesthetics; they tend to make fashion statements and buy into state-of-the-art technology more than older groups.

Figure 1. Motorcyclist injuries (NHTSA

Figure 2. Motorcyclist injuries by crash type (NHTSA

Figure 3. Motorcyclist fatality and injury rates (NHTSA

Figure 4. Motorcyclist helmet use (NHTSA

Figure 5. Motorcycle sales by year (

Highways Lane switching Weather
Helmet (Jet & Full) Heat Tinted vs. Plain Visors Aerodynamics with open visor Fragile

Mid-age/ Cruiser/Touring
City traffic Visibility to Other drivers Weather

Visibility to other drivers Overall safety Weather

Helmet (Half & Jet)

Helmets are a concern Peripheral vision Obstructed Hearing Ventilation Fog & Rain Beads

Helmet (Jet & Full)

Heat when not moving Full = claustrophobic Esthetics over time (Helmets dont stay pretty)

Figure 6. Motorcyclist concerns for helmets and while riding.

Features Free Lane Indicator Heads-Up Display (HUD) for Speed, Gear, RPM Integration with the bike Extra Cost Would pay more for aesthetics and safety Would pay more for hightech

Mid-age/ Cruiser/Touring
Features Low-tech visibility solutions (Reflective Materials & Brighter Lights) Group Communication (CB Intercom available)

Single Switch Activation for Features Rain X HUD Body Protection (Air-bag Suit) Brighter & Louder (visibility) Modularity (Interchangeability of parts between helmets)

Extra Cost Cheaper is better

Extra Cost Would pay more for extra safety Would pay more for aesthetics Pay more for comfort

Figure 7. Motorcyclist preferences for features and cost.

Concept Selection and Possible Features

To meet our vision and target customers needs, we considered two major aspects: safety and appeal (see Figure 8). In terms of safety, we needed to address the helmets physical structurematerial, shape, visors, weight, and so onand technologyGPS, Bluetooth, 3G modem, health sensors, switching lanes indicator, and so onin order to increase motor bikers safety. Especially, we had to ensure whether our product meets certified helmet requirements imposed by the government, in particular the Department of Transportation. In terms of appeal, unlike safety, we could approach this issue with more discretion. We came up with three factors: design, features, and cost.
Physical Struct ure Material Shape Visors Technology GPS Bluetooth 3G Modem Design Artwork Shape Weight

Features Heads-up Displa y Radio/Phone Modularity Cost Insurance Features


Health sensors
Switching lanes indicator Direct Communication (On-Star)


Figure 8. Product features and functionalities.

In more detail, looking at physical structure, at first we needed to consider material because it was closely related to production cost as well as safety. For the external material, we explored two types of plastics: fiberglassstrong but heavy and cracks easily if dropped)and injection-molded plasticsmuch lighter and less expensive but also very delicate. As for internal material, specifically liners, two sorts of fillers were considered: cottoncheaper but less comfortableand silksofter but more expensive and slightly harder to clean.

Secondly, we thought of visors, which are basically meant to be a form of protection and should pose minimal distractions. In that sense, visors should be able to block rainfall, bugs, UV rays, small pebbles, and so on. Especially because bright sunlight can be a serious threat to riders, we pondered on how to eliminate the risk and came up with tints that are made from polycarbonate beads with varying tint levels, were polarized and interchangeable, or used photochromatic lenses (transition lenses). Thirdly, in terms of weight, we applied the principle of physics such as the center of gravity. And to minimize burden to neck, we made effort to reduce the weight of helmet maintaining the safety standard. Finally, we chose the helmet type as a full helmet in terms of shape because safety issues overrode all other aspects in our new product. While enumerating all features, we found some conflicts between them, e.g. weight (or cost) versus features. Thus, we needed to consider the effect of trade-off and then to find the optimal combination. In this context, we considered the following factors prior to selecting the best concepts: Goal: Find combinations of features for the helmet that will appeal to certain consumer groups Some features will be standard: GPS, 3G Modem, Sensors to detect and report a crash to authorities These alone could be included for a low price point to appeal to consumers concerned with safety Additional features such as Bluetooth provide functionality but are not essential These can be grouped with a more stylish design to attract consumers willing to pay more for a helmet they can show off We also conducted risk analysis in technological and marketing aspects (see Figure 9). It was necessary because we needed to ensure whether our product is

technologically feasible or not and whether our product can appeal to customers enough to make a profit. For the technological aspect, two major challenges were the need for power, specifically for wireless communication, and needing an anti-theft system as the price of our product became more expensive. To check whether our technical challenges can be solved, we searched patent data and found patents that could bolster our product concept. For example, US patents 5,894,898 and 6,101,256 showed solar cells attached to a scooter and bike helmet, and WO patent 90/11028 showed an anti-theft system for helmets (see Figure 10). For the marketing aspect, the helmet had inherent drawbacks: it can be expensive; is easily stolen; is inconvenient after arrival; causes helmet hair; and can be hot depending on coverage and weather.
Model Base Technological Risk - power: relatively low - material: light - anti-theft system: necessary Market Risk - price: moderate - design: good - helmet hair: yes - temp.: hot - price: expensive - design: excellent - helmet hair: a little - temp.: hot - price: very expensive - design: outstanding - helmet hair: little - temp.: less hot


- power: medium - material: light - integration of bluetooth - anti-theft system: necessary - power: relatively high - material: light - integration of vital sensors - anti-theft system: necessary


Figure 9. Risk analysis of our product models.

Figure 10. Patents of solar cells used on a scooter and helmet and an anti-theft system.

Final Product
After considering the possible features and options for the helmets design, our group had to decide what combination would be the most desirable at a particular price, given a typical consumer in the market. Our first priority was to create a base model that had enough functionality to meet the main goal of the product, improving accident response time for motorcyclists. With only the essential features, the cost will be minimized, making the helmet competitive with others on the cheaper end of the market. From our market research and user interviews, we determined that many consumers were only interested in a functional helmet at a low cost. This was either because they were concerned about protection during an accident or wanted to fulfill the state law requiring the use of a helmet. Based on this information, a low cost model that

could compete with ordinary helmets seemed necessary. Although our product may cost some extra with the added electronics, our goal was for customers to see this as a worthwhile expense for the additional safety features it provides. The specific objective of the base model is to detect when an accident occurs and contact a service provider, who can then notify local or nearby authorities. This could result in a response from the police, fire department, or hospital. With this nearinstant response to an accident, the ambulance would be able to arrive as quickly as possible to help anyone injured. To accomplish this, the helmet needs an accelerometer, microcontroller, GPS, and 3G modem. The accelerometer will detect the accident through sudden deceleration, and the microcontroller will interface with and control each of the components. The GPS will be used to relay the coordinates of the accident, while the 3G modem will be used to communicate with the service provider over a cellular network. We decided to add one more feature on top of this for the purpose of preventing false alarms, since sending the police to a location without there being an accident would be a serious problem. Eventually it was decided that the most reliable and simplest way to do this would be to integrate a microphone and speaker into the helmet. These components are fairly cheap and will be able to add additional functionality in the more expensive models. To prevent false alarms, the service provider will call the user through the helmet if an accident is detected, and the user can respond to cancel the emergency response if everything is okay. Now that we have a low cost smart helmet that improves on the traditional helmet, we also wanted a more luxurious version with additional features and a degree of customization. This deluxe model will appeal to the group of consumers who is willing to spend more for a helmet they can show off. This includes people who may have a stylish motorcycle and care about the visual appearance of the helmet. Because of this, the deluxe model will have a selection of different artwork available covering the helmet.

When releasing the product, we could start with a choice of five or so artistic designs and expand the selection by adding more over time. This would allow consumers to choose a design that matches their motorcycle and also improves the chances they will purchase the helmet if they find a design they really like. Another feature unique to the deluxe model will be the addition of Bluetooth support. The Bluetooth will integrate with the speaker and microphone and allow for connectivity to the users cell phone. This will allow the user to make calls with their cell phone through the helmet, using voice commands that most modern cell phones support. There are many other potential uses depending on the cell phone, such as listening to streaming music or hearing directions to a location from a GPS application. The third variant of the helmet will be a professional model, intended for professional racers as being competition-grade. Unlike the other two models, this one will be entirely customized for an individual consumer. This includes the features added on as well as the physical shape or size of the interior. To accomplish this, the design will be modular, meaning there will be a central controller that any of the potential add-ons can be connected to. Some of the possible features weve discussed that may be useful to a professional racer include vitals monitoring, such as a heart rate sensor, and recording information that can be analyzed later, such as the position and acceleration of the motorcycle throughout a track. These three models should successfully target a good variety of consumers in different parts of the market with different spending limits. This allows the helmet to be competitive from release and target different kinds of consumers. Researching other helmets on the market, there is a large variability in pricing, ranging from $50 to $800. The more expensive helmets feature unique artwork like the deluxe model and may be priced high based on the brand. Because of this, we decided on the follow pricing: Base ($150-200), Deluxe ($300-400), and Professional (+$1000). The base model is still at

the low end of the market to be competitive with regular helmets, while the deluxe model focuses on consumers willing to pay more for a stylish design.

Future Steps
As we finalize the concept for development of our Smart Helmet, we will have to perform several steps and investigate several options to bring the idea into life and eventually release it into the market. Examine patentability As discussed previously, none of the technologies used in the Smart Helmet including the accelerometer, GPS tracking device, or 3G/GPRS/WiFi communicator are individually innovative. Instead, it is the idea of putting them together and implementing them in such way that is both novel and useful to motorcycle riders and involves an innovative step. After some additional investigation, we did find previous attempts to develop and patent similar types of accident reporting devices for motorcycle riders, but we believe that we can differentiate our final product through proprietary software and hardware for detecting and communicating the accident to an emergency call center. Emergency Response We still need to determine how the emergency calls will be handled and how the monitoring centers will be organized. Most probably we would need to collaborate with local authorities, such as police departments and emergency rooms, in order to provide the ability to communicate an accident immediately to increase responsiveness. However, we also need to consider how we are going to filter the emergency alarms, in order to prevent the possibility of false calls. Marketing the Product There are several options available in taking the idea further once the prototypes are developed and the concept is proven:

1. Seek capital from angel investors or venture capitalists and develop the product on our own, eventually producing and marketing the product under our proprietary Smart Helmet brand. 2. Collaborate with motorcycle manufacturers to somehow integrate the smart helmet idea with their motorcycles thus creating room for additional features such as motorbike theft protection. Brand the helmet and its accident reporting system as an add-on for high-class bikes, much like OnStar is currently branded for GM cars. 3. Sell the technology to existing helmet manufacturers in the market. In this case we would not attempt to market the helmet on our own. Rather, we would build on the capabilities of already existing helmet producers in the market, which have established retail channels and well-recognized brands. We would have to determine whether we could arrange some sort of a royalty agreement through which we would be able to obtain a percentage of the profits from the helmet sales, or possibly sell the technology altogether to them at a fixed price. Based on our initial findings, the latter option seems to be the most viable for several reasons. First of all, while the motorcycle helmet market is still very fragmented with many primary players and niche manufacturers (a recent report by Global Industry Analysts, Inc. for Global Premium Motorcycle Helmets Market alone covers at least 106 companies3), there are prominent leaders in the market. For instance, a Japanese brand SHOEI holds almost 54% of the global market share in Premium Helmets4. Another Korean company, HJC holds almost 33% of the global market share in motorcycle helmets. There are also a number of other well-known helmet brands, including Scorpion, AGV Helmets, Nolan, and Joe Rocket. These brands have a set of followers that organize themselves in clubs and forums and often collect designer helmets from specific manufacturers. We believe that given the nature of the market and brand recognition established by the mentioned brands, the most reasonable option would be to align our efforts with

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those of already established manufacturers and utilize their brand names associated with the highest quality and helmet safety, as well as their marketing and sales channels. Positioning and Competition While marketing the product, we would compare and contrast our Smart Helmet against other premium helmets as well as other accident tracking options already available, most notably the Phantom Tracking system5. This system is installed onto the motorcycle itself, as opposed to the helmet, and has a high installation fee ($499 before tax) as well as a monthly subscription fee ($15 per month). As discussed previously, we believe that our solution will be much cheaper compared to this price, and should be more attractive to a safety-conscious motorcycle rider because it will be embedded into a high-end, technologically advanced helmet.