The Mindreader helmet wants to ease your cycling stress

What’s your bike helmet done for you lately? Protected your head from smashing into the pavement? Sure, I guess that’s useful. But if it’s not also tuned into how you’re feeling then it’s pretty basic compared to one company’s design for the helmet of the future.

The MindReader helmet is a Kickstarter project that aims to make cycling a more intuitive and interactive experience. It has a sensor in the foam, part of a built-in brain-computer interface that measures stress levels using electroencephalography (EEG), which picks up on the level of electricial activity in the brain. That information is then transmitted to a small light on the helmet which lights up green when you’re relaxed or red when you’re completely stressed out “sharply focused”. This system connects via Bluetooth to an app on your mobile, where you can track your feelings and anonymously add your data to an interactive map.

The goal is to help cyclists plan future journeys by letting them discover which routes are the most relaxing (or not) for them and to see which parts of a town other users find the most challenging to ride in. One day it could even help councils decide on the best locations for new bike paths.

The helmet has a unique bevelled design – like a chunk of rock – that was initially a stylistic choice but which in future could help to store the circuitry required. Arlene Ducao designed the initial prototype for the helmet in 2012 as part of her masters degree at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. It originally had LEDs around the helmet to let motorists know a bike rider’s state of mind, but the focus has since been changed to make it more cyclist-centric. Ducao is now based in New York and she and her team at DuKorp, including her chief programmer, Ilias Koen, are currently testing the helmet and app in Brooklyn neighbourhoods. They’re hoping to raise $200,000 by July 10th to bring the Mindreader to market.

Image via Graeme Maclean’s Flickr.

Diane Shipley