Solar-powered cycle helmets are here

Cyclists will soon be able to listen to music and take calls on their mobile phones powered entirely by a solar cell on their crash helmet. German engineering company Fraunhofer IZM has developed solar cells that can fit the curve of a cycle helmet without any compromise in performance.

The solar-powered helmet allows mobile devices like smart phones and MP3 players to be connected wirelessly via Bluetooth – incoming calls can be received by using the accompanying Bluetooth-enabled glove. The user can even operate an MP3 player remotely from the glove. The result is a complete communication system that does away with cables and weighs almost nothing.

Until now, only relatively small solar modules could be mounted on compound curves. Flexible, foil-based solar cells are unsuited to such applications, as they only bend in one direction.

Retrofitting conventional helmets with the solar module is also possible.
When the helmet is not being used, the battery can charge a smart phone or MP3 player.

The solar helmet will be released commercially at the end of this year as a ski helmet at a price of around £250, but its designers says the technology is as well suited to cycle helmets and motorcycles helmets and a retrofit module will go on sale for £85.

To wear or not to wear

An increasing number of British cyclists wear helmets, but counter-intuitive as it seems, head injury rates have not decreased as one might expect.

Furthermore, injury rates in countries where very few cyclists wear helmets are amongst the lowest in the world.

There is much speculation over why this might be, but the statistics makes a strong argument against any move to make helmet wearing mandatory until through research is undertaken.

For a analysis of the arguments for and against helmet effectiveness visit Cyclehelmets.org

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