By Caley Fretz
Published Sep. 27, 2012
An interesting, new safety device unveiled in the aisles at Interbike last week might just make a life-defining difference the next time you hit your head in a crash.
The human race’s dubious ability to invent pastimes that require helmets is certainly questionable. In fact, the skill with which we attempt to maim ourselves seems to suggest that we should probably rely on a bit more than a few inches of foam between our noggins and the roads, rocks and trees we hurl ourselves towards.
After a bad crash, the focus turns from physical protection to finding help and administering aid. Riding with friends is always the best prescription, but sometimes that just can’t happen. Enter the new e-buddy, the ICEdot Crash Sensor.
ICEdot teamed up with SenseTech to produce a helmet-mounted sensor that can tell when a rider hits his head in a crash. It works in conjunction with an app on a Bluetooth-enabled phone and ICEdot’s online database to inform emergency contacts in the event of a crash, sending a text message with the rider’s last known GPS coordinates and information about the severity of the crash itself.
Those GPS coordinates show up on the contacts’ smartphone maps, showing exactly where the victim is located, when he crashed, and how hard.
How it works
ICEdot has been providing emergency contact services for some time, but this is its first foray into crash detection and auto-notification. The sensor used comes from SenseTech, and is full of accelerometers that detect motion, changes in forces and impacts. In other words, it can tell if a rider begins to fall, and if that fall ends with a head impact. Such an event sets off the sequence that ends in a text to the rider’s emergency contacts.
The g-force threshold at which the system sends out a notification can be set within the ICEdot app. When ICEdot CEO Chris Zenthoefer set the system at its lowest setting, a swift whack of his helmet against his heel was enough to set the system off. With the slider moved up to its highest setting, the same impact had no effect.
Following an impact strong enough to set off the system, an alarm and “impact detected” notification shows up on the rider’s phone. If uninjured, the rider can cancel the notification before it goes out. The amount of time between impact and notification of contacts can be set within the app (so the rider can leave more time to dig out a phone if it’s buried deep in a backpack, for example).
If the countdown is not cancelled, the rider’s phone uses the data he’s input into ICEdot’s online system to inform emergency contacts of his whereabouts. It also informs them of the severity of the impact.
Of course, the system isn’t confined to cycling. The sensor can be mounted to any helmet, regardless of sport. Skiing, climbing, motor sports — the list of applications goes on and on. Even team sports like football could take advantage. Football players may not get stuck out in the woods with nobody around, but knowing when their heads have undergone an impact is certainly valuable.
I imagine my mother will attempt to purchase one of these for me right after reading this, and yours might as well, but they’ll have to wait until early next year for the official debut. The sensor itself will cost a tidy $200, not exactly cheap, but about on par with a mid-to-high range helmet. An annual subscription to ICEdot’s notification service is only $10.