Marcus Weller

Using technology to turn motorcycle helmet design on its head

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I was taken aback both by the number of people that doubted it, and by the equally large number of people that got behind it

Marcus Weller

Using technology to turn motorcycle helmet design on its head

Like many innovations before it, Skully was born from an accident. Skully founder and CEO Marcus Weller was on his motorcycle, looking at a street sign, when the car in front of him slammed on its brakes. Weller didn’t see the car until he flew into the back of it. With his expertise in Human Factors Engineering and Ph.D. in Industrial Psychology, combined with his passion for motorcycles, this unfortunate moment led to a revolution in motorcycle helmets. But where helmet design has typically evolved to better protect wearers in an accident, Skully is about accident prevention.

The world’s first augmented reality motorcycle helmet, the Skully AR-1 has Synapse™ Vision Enhancement that eliminates blind spots with a wide-angle blind spot camera, along with navigation via Skully Synapse™ Smart Heads up Display (HUD) technology. This allows the rider to experience the rear camera feed, GPS navigation, and other functions as if they were floating in front of their eyes. A prism projects the helmet’s data and the user’s smart phone feeds in the bottom right corner of the helmet so the wearer never has to move their head to see what’s in the periphery or rear. (To experience, the driver’s view, watch Skully’s promo video)

Weller had the background to conceptualize Skully’s high-tech design as an Intelligent Transportation Systems researcher while at the University of Minnesota and having worked for years in the automotive and semi-conductor industries. Bringing the concept to life took more than that. “I was taken aback both by the number of people that doubted it,” he explains, “and by the equally large number of people that got behind it.”

Skully launched on Indiegogo in August 2014, and in just 45 minutes became the fastest company to reach $1 million. With $3 million in orders from all over the world and armed with $11 million in Series A funding (including one of GoPro’s investors), Skully’s future looks promising. The success extends beyond the financial backing too. Weller describes how the technology and design philosophy behind the AR-1 has tremendous potential. “We have both learned and created a lot of knowledge in human factors science,” he says and looks forward to “a radical simplification of interface design in motorcycling” across the industry. We do too.

Pre-order it from their online store for $1,499, with expected delivery end of this year.

Illustration by Jason Ratliff, images courtesy of Skully

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