The Smart Helmet solution was developed by a three-member team comprising Navajith Karkera (Mechanical), Jagath Biddappa (E&C) and Preetham (CS) from Sahyadri College of Engineering & Management, Mangalore. Their project was showcased at KPIT Sparkle 2018.
Road safety is a major area of concern in India – an area that has largely remained unaddressed despite much talk happening around it. A three-member team from Sahyadri College of Engineering & Management, Mangalore, comprising Navajith Karkera (Mechanical), Jagath Biddappa (E&C) and Preetham (CS), conceived an idea about a smart helmet solution, which they subsequently worked on as an academic project.
Clearly, the team was determined on what it set out to achieve. One of the team members, Navajith Karkera said they wanted to create a solution that can solve the major road safety problem in India. “India has the largest two-wheeler market and the fourth largest two-wheeler population in the world. However, on the downside we have the largest two-wheeler fatalities in the world and helmet laws have not been quite effective in solving this issue. So, we buckled down to develop a smart helmet, which would captivate riders to wear it and enjoy the accessibility, convenience and added safety with our product,” Karkera said.
India has the highest per capita motorcycle fatalities in the world (source: WHO) with around 42,000 deaths and over one lakh major injuries in 2015 alone. Although most riders are aware about helmet safety, many prefer not to wear helmets simply because they are uncomfortable, lack features other than head protection, and are considered a burden, while riding.
Since the invention of helmets, the industry hasn’t seen much development or major innovation around helmets, barring some very expensive solutions in the global markets.
As a developing nation, India relies heavily on two-wheelers. The size of the country and large population often makes enforcing rules and regulations a huge challenge. Given the widespread and rapid adoption of smartphones, riders are now leveraging smartphones to communicate, navigate and entertain themselves on the go.
Helmets currently available in the market make it exceedingly difficult for users to use smartphones and that is one of the reasons for low helmet usage, especially for short distances. Another dangerous trend is that of riders using earphones or snugging their phones into the helmets for communication. This is inconvenient and can be fatal. Thus, it is imperative to address these problems in a bid to minimise accidents and injuries in the future with a vision that motorcyclists will wear the helmet not because they are forced to wear it but because they love to wear it, due to the critical problem it solves and the superior features it offers.
The smart helmet solution is for the motorcycle segment. The three-member team of Navajith, Jagath and Preetham worked on developing features based on the inputs and feedbacks from riders across a broad spectrum. The smart helmet solution provides accident alerts along with location sharing to emergency contact lists saved in the smart helmet app, including ambulance service so that immediate assistance is made available.
In case of any incoming call to the rider, the smart helmet intimates the rider about the call only when the riders come to a halt. The smart helmet then connects the call. Such a functional aspect eliminates the hassle of removing the helmet and phone from pocket and at the same time gets rid of risks associated with talking while riding.
Further, in order to encourage riders, especially the youth to wear the smart helmet, the trio has added wireless music playback in the smart helmet, but at an optimum volume at which the ambient sounds are also audible. Since Drink-n-Drive habit is one the major contributors for accidents, an alcohol sensor is embedded in the front portion of the smart helmet. The system monitors the alcohol level in the rider’s breath and provides an alert, when the level is above the limit.
To improve rider safety, the three-member team has also installed safety lights on the smart helmet. Since most of the cities in India are humid and hot, especially during the summer season, it causes irritation and profuse sweating while wearing helmets. This causes discomfort to the rider and may also cause hair loss. To solve this problem, the team integrated an active cooling system inside the smart helmet to produce the cooling effect.
The smart helmet is integrated with Bluetooth, inertial measurement unit, alcohol sensor and microprocessor that acts as major systems to execute the functions. The signals from the sensor and Bluetooth are processed by the microprocessors, which then execute tasks & provide functionalities according to the programme designed. All the features and activities of the smart helmet are controlled and governed by a microprocessor and algorithms that the team developed. The device is powered by a rechargeable 1,500 mAh lithium polymer battery and is protected by a power management circuitry.
The three-member team has filed a patent on their smart helmet and has completed a crude prototype earlier. They are now working on developing a complete functional prototype with added features. The smart helmet offers innovative and necessary features to the riders without compromising on safety at an affordable cost. The solutions offered are based on inputs and feedbacks of riders across many cities of India.
The team said its competitors are mainly in international markets, where their products are priced very high (Rs 40,000 - Rs 150,000) with limited features (only Bluetooth, navigation and camera).
The smart helmet developed by the team from Sahyadri College of Engineering & Management, Mangalore is expected to nudge riders, especially the youth towards wearing helmets, thereby reducing a large number of fatalities and traumas due to accidents, especially in India. The team strived to bring the same revolution to the motorcycle helmet industry that smartphones have brought to the telecom industry.
Most riders, especially the youth will be excited about using the smart helmet for the features it offers, unlike earlier times when there was reluctance among users to opt for helmets. The smart helmet will offer riders an enjoyable experience, and will likely increase helmet usage and lower accident-related injuries and fatalities, the team hopes.