New 'Dora' helmet design incorporates indicators + video

Bluetooth handlebar controls are linked to flashing LEDs

by Mat Brett   March 4, 2013  

Here's a new indicator helmet idea for you to check out from a designer called Balázs Filczer. What do you reckon?

The idea is that the helmet works alongside Bluetooth handlebar controls to tell other road users when you’re turning.

Right at the top we should tell you that this is just a concept at the moment – it hasn’t been made – but we’re that far ahead of the game here at road.cc that we’re not going to wait until something actually exists before we report on it. This is an entry in the International Bicycle Design Competition 2013

So, what we have here is a Dora helmet. They might need to reconsider the name for a start because when you Google ‘Dora helmet’ you end up with a bunch of links to lids covered in pictures of kids’ cartoon character Dora the Explorer.

Anyway, the helmet design has a white LED at the front, a red LED at the back, and orange LEDs on the sides. The idea is that when you want to turn, you hit a switch on your handlebar – a little like you’d push the indicator lever in a car – and the orange LED on the relevant side of the helmet blinks.

The pictures show an LED arrow on each side of the helmet although other road users presumably won’t necessarily see the point of the arrow, depending on the direction you're looking. They should know which side of the helmet the lit orange LED is on, though, in relation to the central red LED.

You wouldn’t want to use it instead of arm signals, but maybe as an added extra for city riding?

Like we said, this is just on the drawing board – or the computer screen – at the moment, but what do you think of the concept?

23 user comments

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It Looks Cool and makes sense. What's not to like? - Ducks for cover.

posted by Dog72 [108 posts]
4th March 2013 - 18:53

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If I am turning right, I wouldn't be moving out in front of a car without first looking over my shoulder anyway. You can't trust someone driving to see your helmet or even be looking for it. Nice idea but not the 'solution' to safety on its own.

Between the S and the LOW

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posted by bikeboy76 [1053 posts]
4th March 2013 - 18:57

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I think the design of the helmet looks great and I love the integrated lights. However, indicator lights on a bicycle (or a helmet in this case) are not a good idea. Regardless of how many blinking lights you have indicating that you will turning left (or right) motorists are not going to react to them unless you are a car. Only a look round and arm signals are going to get their attention and keep you safe. I’d keep the lights but have them continuously blinking. Dropping the Bluetooth gimmick should reduce costs for the helmet too.

posted by yocto [20 posts]
4th March 2013 - 19:11

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So, when you are about to turn right at a crossroads, and you turn your head left to check that there is nothing approaching from the left, people approaching from the front will see a massive glowing arrow pointing to (your) left. Genius.

The trouble is most design students really want to work in car design. Other than Apple, that has long been seen as the pinnacle of the design world career ladder. But at college they don't have the resources to design a whole car, hence we get shit like this. It's a pity because, despite a recent rash of dangerous cycling stories, the world would be a much safer place if cars were more like bikes, than if bikes and cyclists started aping cars.

posted by ubercurmudgeon [168 posts]
4th March 2013 - 19:47

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I don't understand these comments about looking left/right, indicators are not there so you can be lazy, this is plain stupid, they are there is help other people around you, they are there to communicate, tell me this, when you come to a junction in a car, your indicator says you are turning left, I presume you don't bother looking left and right do you, well I damn well hope you do.

These are not a replacement of what you do today, it's additional communication about what you intend to do, this is a great idea that can only make you safer.

posted by mikeprytherch [174 posts]
4th March 2013 - 20:19

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No mike, I think the point is that you do look, but in doing so, the angle of your head could imply that you are turning in a different direction to your actual intention.

Dodging the saccadic masking

posted by notfastenough [2616 posts]
4th March 2013 - 23:08

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So you are approaching an intersection, vehicle on your left waiting to turn, you indicate a left turn with your helmet. What do you do then? Turn your head right so that they can see the indicator? I am struggling to see how these are going to be useful except for traffic immediately to one's right or left.

I think I will stick to hand signals thanks.

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posted by Aushiker [6 posts]
5th March 2013 - 0:25

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drivers convicted of dooring could be made to wear them for life
- the lights could flash when they plan to open the door - you would be able to see them thru the tinted glass - a much bigger contribution to cyclist safety

otherwise a pointless product

posted by antigee [106 posts]
5th March 2013 - 0:54

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Also, pressing or unpressing buttons on your handlebars is just one extra thing to be doing when one arm needs to be out to the side.

It was better when someone designed the gloves with sensors and LEDs in them. That one built upon traditional signalling, rather than aiming to replace it.

posted by chokofingrz [194 posts]
5th March 2013 - 1:04

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I can see the issues raised by some relating to the directional issue for head-on traffic at a crossroads, fair comment and something that can be simply resolved by reducing the forward distance of the arrow/light by about an inch either side.
However, this is a great ADDITION to the armour in indicating to traffic approaching from rear, your intention to turn especially when turning right on a road to cut across traffic.
Its Bluetooth button isnt the best idea though, it requires removal of hands from bars prior to putting that arm out to indicate physically (which would still need to be done) and therefore reduce control and braking.
Ideally, this would be paired with gloves that each have relevent turn buttons.
BT should be a cost overkill too in this day and age. IR can be much cheaper and more compact for this use whilst requiring less power.
I love the helmet and its concept, but as said, it needs a cyclists input...if we can keep this constructive then maybe it can improve from our feedback alone.

Next idea.....indicating lights on shoulders!

Get building these into high-viz jackets.

posted by Farky [175 posts]
5th March 2013 - 10:40

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The main problem I can see with this is that a helmet is not wide enough, particularly at night, to convey left or right effectively enough. Indicators are very clear on a car due to the width of the vehicle and context of lights in all corners. On a bike helmet it is just a blinking light. Another road user has to be very close to see whether it's indicating left or right.

A bigger issue for me is that sometimes cyclists can't indicate because we are braking, or there is a very uneven road surface. Other road users need to understand this and make allowances.

posted by Andrewwd [18 posts]
5th March 2013 - 10:49

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Personally, I am finding that it is becoming more and more common that, when I signal in good time that I will be turning right into a side street, the car behind rev's its engine wildly because the moron behind the wheel cannot bear the thought of being held up behind a turning cyclist for a few seconds. So their seeing my signals isn't the problem.

posted by ubercurmudgeon [168 posts]
5th March 2013 - 10:58

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Farky wrote:
Next idea.....indicating lights on shoulders!

That might have worked in the 1980s...

posted by ubercurmudgeon [168 posts]
5th March 2013 - 11:00

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I like it.

I don't about you folks, but here in Belfast, bike commuting is an extreme sport (and is about to be made even more hazardous thanks to our inept Transport Minister). So when I see something that has safety features like this which are quite sensible (I still would look and provide arm signals), I would really like to see this go to Production.

I most certainly would not wear it out on a club run though (same with high viz).

posted by Steven_L [48 posts]
5th March 2013 - 11:10

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Got to say I think its a waste of time, this is a designer with too much time on their hands and too little understanding.

Rupert

posted by Rupert49 [38 posts]
5th March 2013 - 12:12

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Solution looking for a problem.

Any time I'm turning and need to indicate (which isn't always - in fact on occasion I find it counterproductive; we've all encountered drivers who think a left signal means "get past me now! right now! before I turn!", surely?), I'm generally looking around a lot, not cocking my head steadily to one side.

I don't see how this makes anyone safer. If anything, it's added danger. A classic accident is when someone pulls out after seeing an indicator that's been accidentally left on. In a car that's an expensive bang; on a bike it can be fatal. When the stakes are that high (hell, even when they're not) I would *much* rather people account for all my potential lines of travel when deciding whether to pull out in front of me.

No. I vote Bad Idea.

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posted by Bez [336 posts]
5th March 2013 - 14:01

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ubercurmudgeon wrote:

The trouble is most design students really want to work in car design. Other than Apple, that has long been seen as the pinnacle of the design world career ladder.

Nice sweeping statement there with minimal reference to reality. Industrial designers and students might get involved in designing anything from furniture to electronic goods to sports equipment to toys to storage to medical equipment to... well you get the idea. It's a broad field and that's what attracts people to it

Automotive design is really specialised so if you want to do just that then you have to study just that then chase a tiny number of jobs in the field. If you're fortunate you might get a job detailing the air conditioning knob.

Anyway - Design wise it just doesn't make any sense, if you were going to add indicators to a bike then the most obvious way to do it is in a way that people will already be familiar with - basically like a motorbike.

Sticking them on your head is just daft but one of the problems with concepts like this is that, with access to 3d modelling and rendering software, it's easy to turn something that should have remained on the back of a proverbial envelope (or in a sketchbook) into an image of a credible looking object. It's then easier for the designer to skip the whole 'does it work?' stage and get obsessed with how it looks. They should have taped some LEDs to a helmet and asked someone to film or observe them before committing to modelling a flawed design

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posted by joemmo [696 posts]
5th March 2013 - 14:50

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@farky. about your last comment in getting them built into high viz jackets. Well that has already been done. I was at the cycle show Birmingham last year, and a small seller had hi viz jackets with LED indicators built into them. You activate them by putting out your left or right arm. So you are still doing the necessary arm signalling plus giving extra visible cues to other road/pedestrians.

posted by toothache90 [22 posts]
5th March 2013 - 16:09

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Stick some sort of GPS in it and call it "Dora the explorer" Devil

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posted by Gkam84 [8189 posts]
5th March 2013 - 22:01

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Does anyone seriously believe that motorists in the UK are going to pay any attention to a flashing light on a helmet? Many have enough difficulty acknowledging the indicators on cars/lorries/buses as it is without having to figure out that the flashing light is an indicator rather than a rear light!

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posted by giff77 [964 posts]
6th March 2013 - 2:23

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Sorry I'm confused here, people are going on about cars and indicators I didn't realise cars had them!

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posted by FATBEGGARONABIKE [489 posts]
6th March 2013 - 10:16

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joemmo wrote:
ubercurmudgeon wrote:

The trouble is most design students really want to work in car design. Other than Apple, that has long been seen as the pinnacle of the design world career ladder.

Nice sweeping statement there with minimal reference to reality.

Maybe I was oversimplifying a bit, but you've got to admit that this helmet looks, from the rear especially, like every second car currently on display at the Geneva Motor Show.

And check out the hundreds of car design sketches on the the designer's blog. If this guy doesn't crave to be a car designer then I am a monkey's uncle.

posted by ubercurmudgeon [168 posts]
6th March 2013 - 11:15

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I like the idea... though having read through the above comments I'm not convinced of the workability but there are situations where indicators would be useful. On my commute I come down a fairly steep hill to traffic lights at which I have the option to go right or straight on. Given that I'm usually both braking and changing down gears, I don't have a spare hand for indicating right, and also don't tend to sit at lights with my arm out (I do indicate again before starting off on green!) But if I had to choose between braking and indicating, braking wins. Obviously.

posted by RuthF28 [87 posts]
7th March 2013 - 12:35

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