Is SKULLY an angel or a Hells Angel?

The Silicon Valley company makes intelligent vehicle systems and is launching its first product in July a smart motorcycle helmet called the AR-1.

It eliminates blind spots with a wide-angle camera and provides navigation directions using a proprietary heads-up display.

The $1,500 (£973) helmet projects connects to smartphones via Bluetooth and has been publicly shown to connect wirelessly with data from a bike including speed, engine speed, gear position and fuel consumption all projected on the helmet’s screen.

Public and private investors are putting their money behind the concept. It set a record as the fastest Indiegogo campaign to raise $1M and in February the company closed a $11M Series A round of financing led by Walden Riverwood Ventures and Intel Capital.

Here’s what Marcus Weller, the founder and CEO of SKULLY, has to say about the company’s wearable, mobile technology.

TU: How does it work?

Weller:It’s like a fighter pilot’s helmet; it gives the information below the line of sight and allows you to keep your eyes on the road. It takes a 180 degree blind spot camera puts it in a heads-up display with ultra-low latency. You can experience your surroundings with less cognitive load… keeping the driver’s focus in the direction of travel [ie, eyes on the road].

You can pull maps, GPS navigation, or music from your phone [on iOS or Android platforms]. I like to listen to electronic music, there are speakers embedded in the helmet as well.  

TU: Is SKULLY going to work on creating, or helping create self-driving motorcycles?

Weller:More than self-driving motorcycles, better assisted driving systems in cycles, better technology that’s a safer ride. A lot of technology will centre around the helmet because your head is inside that.

TU: Are you going to go beyond the motorcycle?

Weller:We’re not prepared to announce anything roadmap wise, [SKULLY] identifies itself as an intelligence vehicle systems platform. It integrates a lot of platforms that aren’t all integrated into the highest-end cars, except for maybe Tesla, including the heads-up display, turn-by-turn navigation integrated seamlessly with the smartphone.

This helmet platform is 15 years old, it hasn’t changed, it protects your head from when you crash. We’re looking to see what will happen if we prevent the crash from happening.

I think we’re creating a strong foundation for where the company will go in the future.

TU: Are you working on technology for other vehicles – cars or something for fleets?

Weller: There are a lot of really important collaborations with the world’s largest auto suppliers and the intelligent vehicle space.

You should have your tech that supports you on a daily basis support you when you transport yourself. It’s the most frequent, ubiquitous, and dangerous thing you do. It should take you there with low cognitive effort.

At the macro level you’re going to see the convergence of consumer electronics and automotive like you’ve never seen in the next five years. Hopefully, if SKULLY has a say in it, it also changes in the commitment to human factors, to how people see their environment and how transportation is done, particularly automotive.

The OEMs have been communicating with us for some time wondering if this technology will take off when we did Indiegogo and now the automakers say they will leverage [SKULLY’s technology].

TU: Are you going to license the technology?

Weller: We are open to licensing. We’re always going to be developing new tech. We want to be a quality consumer brand, standing for safety and quality and making helmets – the safest ones on the planet. If other brands want to talk about how they can make their helmets safer, we’re open to that conversation.

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